This week, we turn our focus to the offensive line. The Detroit Lions will likely have an opening at right guard with T.J. Lang’s future in question, and Kenny Wiggins isn’t the answer. Ideally, the Lions would add someone with a good foundation as a pass protector first and foremost, because the main objective right now is to keep the quarterback off the ground, and when T.J. Lang hasn’t been in the game, that hasn’t been the case.
- Film breakdown: T.J. Lang was the heart of the Lions’ rushing attack
- Top 5 2019 NFL Draft guards for the Lions
Here are some possible sleeper/under the radar names that could help the Lions address their issue on the interior.
Chris Lindstrom (Boston College) | 6-foot-4, 310 pounds
At 6-foot-4, Lindstrom plays low with good pad level and leverage. Boston College is known for producing plenty of NFL talent on the offensive line, and Lindstrom is just another one of those guys that will make the university proud and has a chance of going early in the draft. BC’s offense is also a bit non-traditional when it comes to evaluating offensive linemen, as you don’t see a ton of true pass sets, but Lindstrom hasn’t given me any reason to doubt his ability in pass protection.
Lindstrom’s awareness and mental processing is a big plus for him, as he often keeps his head on a swivel looking for someone to block and does a very nice job of picking up stunts and twists. He has great functional strength for the position and more than held his own against a tough Clemson D-line. Lindstrom has quick feet and does well when mirroring D-linemen in pass pro.
My biggest concern with Lindstrom currently is his balance as well as his positioning when working out to the second level. He has great burst for an OL, meaning he explodes out of his stance as a pulling guard and can get into the second level in an instant. However, he’s far too often on the ground and needs to do a better job of positioning himself and engaging once he gets there.
Lindstrom is someone that could easily see their stock rise into the earlier rounds of the draft if he hasn’t already positioned himself there on team’s boards.
Michael Deiter (Wisconsin) | 6-foot-6, 310 pounds
As Kent mentioned in his piece, Wisconsin is an OL factory, and I believe that Deiter—not Beau Benzschawel—is the better of the two Wisconsin guards, though he is not quite as talented as the Badgers’ starting center, Tyler Biadasz, who could be one of the top interior OL in the class if he decides to declare (only a RS Sophomore).
Deiter stands tall at 6-foot-6 with good functional and grip strength and anchors well against bull rushers. He may struggle a bit early in his career against quicker defensive tackles. Deiter displays good awareness when picking up stunts and twists and has some nice pop with his initial hand punch to stymie attackers.
In the run game, Deiter doesn’t often lose ground and mostly does a good job of turning his man away from the play and/or providing push for the ball carrier. Deiter has experience all along the line at tackle, center and guard and has started in all 41 games he’s appeared in.
Cody Ford (Oklahoma) | 6-foot-4, 338 pounds
Ford is a big boy at a listed 338 pounds and played mostly guard in his limited starts before being moved to right tackle in 2018. He projects to move back to guard in the NFL, due to his short strides and limited athleticism. Ford looks like a traditional mauling right guard. When he’s got his hands on you, you’re done.
In pass protection, Ford has good hand placement and decent footwork, but is again limited as an athlete and looks more like a phone booth-type blocker, who tends to struggle moving laterally when picking up stunts and is susceptible to getting beat by quicker D-linemen.
Ross Pierschbacher (Alabama) | 6-foot-4, 309 pounds
Pierschbacher’s availability for the Tide has been his biggest asset. He started 42 games at left guard in his first three years with the program before moving over to center full-time in 2018. He was touted early in the year as one of the best guards in the class, but the buzz has died down a little with other names emerging.
Where Pierschbacher wins is with his positioning and technique, but his functional strength is somewhat of a concern to me. He tends to give up a lot of ground to bigger, stronger DTs. Pierschbacher’s athleticism leaves much to be desired and is currently projected to go in the middle rounds of the draft.
Calvin Throckmorton (Oregon) | 6-foot-5, 318 pounds
Forget the talent, Calvin Throckmorton has an elite name and would be a shoe-in for the Name Tournament Final Four. But seriously, he’s an under-the-radar prospect currently and a PFF darling.
Throckmorton has good experience across the offensive line, playing both right tackle and right guard for the Ducks, but projects best on the interior. His length and power allows him to dictate his opponent at the line of scrimmage. Throckmorton appears to be somewhat of an average athlete and struggles often out in space. He tends to look lost when arriving at the second level and will need some serious coaching when it comes to his angles and positioning.
I’d expect Throckmorton to be an option for the Lions in the mid-to-later rounds of the draft.