As we start to look ahead to training camp, we're going to take a position-by-position look at the Detroit Lions roster. Next up is the center position. (The final year of each player's contract is listed in parentheses.)
Set starter: Travis Swanson (2017)
Backup: Graham Glasgow (2019)
On the bubble: Gabe Ikard (2016)
Entering the 2016 season, Travis Swanson is the presumed starter. Swanson is still just 25 years old and on a cheap rookie contract. This upcoming season will just be Swanson’s second as a starter.
But the Lions aren’t apparently banking on Swanson being the starter much longer. Detroit used a third-round pick on Graham Glasgow in this year’s draft, signaling the Lions' displeasure with Swanson's play. Teams don’t spend that kind of draft capital on a center unless they plan on eventually playing them.
That being said, Glasgow still needs to earn his playing time, and if OTAs are any sign he still has a ways to go. The former University of Michigan center mostly took third-string snaps this offseason and although Jim Caldwell said "he’s made some strides," Glasgow still seems unlikely to be named the starting center by Week 1.
Gabe Ikard is on the last year of his contract, but the Lions could very well hold onto him for one more season. Ikard was claimed by the Lions through waivers back in December, and although he has never started a game in his two-year career he could still justify a roster spot as a backup plan if Glasgow doesn’t appear NFL ready yet.
Need going forward?
There is no real need for the Lions to add a center at this point. They have a three way contingency plan. If Travis Swanson’s play picks up, the Lions have a young but talented backup. If Swanson falters, Detroit potentially has their starter for the future. If Swanson struggles and Glasgow isn’t ready, they have Ikard around to fill in.