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 offensive tackle position. (The final year of each player's contract is listed in parentheses.)
Set starters: Taylor Decker (2020), Riley Reiff (2016)
Backups: Michael Ola (2016)
On the bubble: Corey Robinson (2018), Cornelius Lucas (2016)
Long shots: Chase Farris (2018)
The Lions appear to be set at offensive tackle this season. If the trend from OTAs and minicamp continue, Taylor Decker will start at left tackle while Riley Reiff will slide over to right tackle. Michael Ola has a leg up on the primary backup position, as he played quite well as the Lions starting right tackle in 2015 in the last half of the season.
But how many pure offensive tackles will the Lions choose to keep? Geoff Schwartz, officially listed as a guard on the Lions’ website, has significant experience at tackle and could be considered for the backup role. Fifth-round draft pick Joe Dahl has similar versatility, meaning the Lions may only keep three pure tackles, as I estimated in our latest 53-man roster prediction.
That being said, 2015 seventh-round pick Corey Robinson managed to make the final roster last year, so he could certainly justify a roster spot again, especially if he’s improved upon his rookie season.
Cornelius Lucas, at this point in his career, is on his ninth life with the Lions. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, Lucas started three games in both his rookie and sophomore seasons. Last year, Lucas started in the first three games of the year, but when LaAdrian Waddle was cleared to play he was relegated to the bench. Later in the year, Waddle struggled and was eventually cut. But instead of promoting Lucas back to the starting role, the Lions opted to sign Ola instead. That cannot be a good sign for Lucas’ future with the team.
Chase Farris was signed to the team after the draft and will have a long way to go to earn a roster spot. His versatility as an guard or tackle could give him some extra value, but I don’t think it’ll be enough.
Need going forward?
The Lions have two potentially solid starters and a group of experienced, versatile backups. There isn’t a need for another tackle...this year. However, with Reiff’s contract due to expire at the end of the season (as well as his primary backup), the Lions could very well be back in the offensive tackle market next year.