The Detroit Lions are going to have a new right guard in 2019. After releasing veteran T.J. Lang earlier this month, Detroit is left with few options. Kenny Wiggins finished the season as the team’s starter and is signed for another year, but he’s best served in a backup role. Detroit added free agent Oday Aboushi, but only committed to him for a single year, and he’s a journeyman who has seemingly made a career out of being an injury replacement.
So, many have speculated that 2018 fifth-round pick Tyrell Crosby may be the answer. Since he entered the 2018 NFL Draft, analysts have projected guard as his best position, despite the fact that he has always played tackle.
On draft day, general manager Bob Quinn left the possibility of a transition to guard open, but made it clear his best asset is at tackle.
“I think he’s a tackle first and foremost,” Quinn said last April.
But given that Detroit is nearing desperation at the guard position, have the Lions changed their mind a year later? It’s not so clear.
Head coach Matt Patricia met with the media this week at the owners meetings and addressed Crosby’s future with the team, but remained pretty non-committal to his position.
He did admit the team will evaluate his value at guard, but that is common practice for all players at his position.
“The game’s a little bit different inside than it is outside for Crosby, so some of those situations we’re going to have to see if he can do that, but we’ll do that with all of those guys,” Patricia said. “There will be a constant flux of positional—I don’t want to call them situations—where we’re just seeing what they can do, but we want to put our guys in as many possible situations that we can.”
The reasoning for this is obvious. The Lions want to see what they have in every single player, while also giving them valuable reps at uncomfortable positions. As Patricia mentioned on Tuesday, sometimes injuries force teams to have to try to slide a guard over to center or a tackle to a guard.
“You can’t just put them in those situations in a live game without any reps, because that’s not fair to the player,” Patricia said.
So as we near closer to Organized Team Activities and other offseason workout programs, don’t be surprised to see Crosby at guard a little. However, that doesn’t mean he’s making the full transition to the interior. Detroit just wants to do due diligence to make sure their players aren’t put into uncomfortable in-game situations.
That being said, Patricia did leave a little door open for Crosby’s future to be inside.
“Sometimes you do it and you find out, ‘Hey, this guy is actually okay in this spot,’ and that’s how they build a role from there.”