Football analytics website Pro Football Focus released their rankings of each offensive line unit in the NFL up to this point in the season Wednesday. The rankings seem to be based on their popular player grades they release after every game. The Detroit Lions came in sixth on the list, showing just how far the unit has come over the past few seasons.
According to the PFF grades, right tackle Rick Wagner is the best of the Lions offensive lineman. He has earned a 76.7 through five games this season. Rookie first round pick Frank Ragnow rounds out the group with a respectable 60.6.
General manager Bob Quinn has made a huge investment into the offensive line the past few years, and it is obvious that it has paid off. Both Ragnow and left tackle Taylor Decker were first-round picks. Wagner and guard T.J. Lang were big money free agents the Lions snagged in the spring of 2017 and center Graham Glasgow was a Day 2 draft selection. Every single one of them was a player brought in by Quinn and the new-and-improved unit seems to have lived up to his expectations.
The Los Angeles Rams top the list, as they do seemingly every list this season. The Green Bay Packers also find themselves in the top five at No. 4. Former Lions first-round draft pick Laken Tomlinson is a member of the San Francisco 49ers unit that ranks fifth. There is an NFC North team in the tail end of the rankings, as the Minnesota Vikings find themselves in 27th.
One interesting note is that the three teams directly above the Lions, the New Orleans Saints, Packers and 49ers, all have at least one player grading in the 50s. While the Lions do not have elite talent all across the board, there seems to be no obvious weak link in their ranks either.
The offensive line’s success shows up in the box score as well. Matthew Stafford has only been sacked nine times through four games this season. This is a huge upgrade from last season where it felt like he was in danger on almost every snap.