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2018 Detroit Lions roster review: Will Kenny Wiggins hold onto a starting spot?

After a rough 2018, could Wiggins play better on the left side?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue offensive line week, let’s address the Detroit Lions’ left guard vacancy. With T.J. Lang now gone and retired, Detroit has opted to shift over their offensive line one spot to the right. Frank Ragnow is now moving from left guard to center. Graham Glasgow appears destined to play at Lang’s vacated spot at right guard. That leaves a few candidates to come in and play left guard for the 2019 season.

The player that got the most reps at that position during OTAs and minicamp was veteran Kenny Wiggins. Last offseason, the Lions signed Wiggins to a two-year deal to help add some experience to their offensive line depth. But Wiggins may not be depth this year. He could be a starter.

Kenny Wiggins

Expectations before 2018

After signing his two-year deal in Detroit, it looked like Wiggins was headed for the starting job at left guard. However, the Lions drafted Frank Ragnow in the first round, and Wiggins was clearly headed for a veteran backup role.

That being said, his familiarity with new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson made him a lock for a roster spot and his versatility—he had experience at both guard spots and even some work at tackle—pretty much ensured that he’d get some playing time eventually.

Actual role in 2018

2018 stats: 16 games (10 starts)

PFF grade: 54.8 (69th among tackles)

Lang struggled with his health all year, and Wiggins, indeed, was the first one off the bench to replace him. The veteran guard went through some serious struggles, especially in the running game.

That being said, Wiggins did eventually settle into his role at right guard. Despite finishing with a pretty awful 54.8 overall PFF grade, his last four games all graded out with at least an 58.5 grade, including an great 73.9 grade against the Bills in Week 15.

Wiggins’ performance must have been good enough for the Lions to believe he could play better in 2019. Detroit didn’t do much to replace him, only adding veteran journeyman Oday Aboushi in free agency and a couple of undrafted rookies.

Outlook for 2019

Contract status: Signed through 2019 season

With little competition, it appears the left guard job is Kenny Wiggins’ to lose. If you’re looking for a sign of optimism with having Wiggins in the starting lineup, the one good thing is that over his career Wiggins has played better on the left side than the right. He had his two best PFF season grades in 2015 (61.7) and 2016 (65.7) when playing mostly at left guard.

That being said, there is a competition brewing. Detroit mixed around their offensive line combinations during minicamp, and it’s clear they want to give Oday Aboushi and Joe Dahl a fighting chance at the job.

In the past, Wiggins has fought through some serious adversity. He’ll have to do so again this year if he wants to remain in the starting lineup, but he knows what to expect.

“I’ve been through it all. I’ve been cut 10 times, I played in the UFL. I’ve done it all, so nothing surprises me at this point in my career,” Wiggins said back in May. “I think I’ve proven I can play in this league, and it’s just going out there and just doing what I normally do day-in, day-out, being the same person when I walk in the door.”

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