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Football Outsiders Q&A Part 4: Lions’ offensive line projections

Football Outsiders helped up project the performance of the Detroit Lions’ much maligned offensive line.

NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Much of the Detroit Lions’ success in 2016 season rests on the fate of their offensive line. After two weeks of the preseason, the outlook isn’t good. Fans are at about a 3.5 out of 5 on the worried scale for the offensive line. While there are some things to be optimistic about, the line has not graded particularly well through two games.

So to help ease worries, we once again tapped Football Outsiders’ Vincent Verhei for some answers. This is part 4 of our interview with Verhei. Here are the previous three installments of our interview:

Part 1: Who was responsible for the Detroit Lions’ offensive turnaround in 2015?

Part 2: How much is Theo Riddick worth?

Part 3: Why did the Lions’ defense regress in 2015?

If you like Verhei’s answer below, be sure to check out Football Outsiders’ 2016 almanac for more detailed statistics like this and projections for the Lions’ upcoming season.

Without further ado, here are Verhei’s thoughts on the Lions’ offensive line:

4. What are your projections for the Lions’ young offensive line? Did they see the same improvement that the offense did as 2015 progressed?

They were a big part of the improvement in the running game, though Detroit's sack rate actually went up a little bit after Cooter was promoted. That's especially surprising considering how many screens Cooter called. For 2016, there are plenty of question marks, but the upside is definitely high. With the addition of Taylor Decker, Detroit's offensive line will start three first-rounders and two thirds, all 28 or younger. No, not all of those players have lived up to their draft status, but you won't find many lines in the league with a higher potential at all five spots than this one.

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