The play of the Detroit Lions’ offensive line, like any year, will be key to the team’s success. Last year, we saw some serious signs of improvement. Detroit was able to run the ball fairly well all season—Kerryon Johnson, Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick all averaged 4.3 yards per carry or better (let’s not talk about LeGarrette Blount).
However, things were far from rosy on the offensive front last year. Matthew Stafford was still sacked 40 times all season, including 10 times in a single game against the Vikings.
But Pro Football Focus seems pretty optimistic about the unit’s future. This week, they ranked all 32 NFL offensive lines and the Lions came in at a respectable 15th on the list:
Led by a couple former first round picks, the #Lions offensive line heads into 2019 looking as good as it has in recent years. Ranking 15th among the NFL units in the @PFF rankings ahead of the season #OnePride https://t.co/dTecOdjao5— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) July 9, 2019
Perhaps more interesting is what PFF thought of the Lions’ offensive line at this point last year. With T.J. Lang still on the roster and PFF-darling Frank Ragnow freshly drafted, the 2018 rankings actually had Detroit eighth going into the 2018 season.
Obviously, things didn’t turn out quite that optimistically. After the season was over, PFF declared that the Lions offensive line had the 16th best performance in 2018.
Which brings us to this year. Considering the Lions’ personnel hasn’t changed much this offseason, it makes sense that PFF has the Lions pretty close to where they finished last year.
However, for you eternal optimists out there, there is reason to believe Detroit’s offensive line could be better in 2019. First, there’s the changing of the guard... at center. Sorry, that’s confusing. Frank Ragnow is moving from guard to his more natural position at center. Graham Glasgow appears to be sliding over to right guard. Simply changing spots does not guarantee improvement, but considering how well Ragnow played at center in college, this move does seem to make a lot of sense.
Then, of course, there’s the change at offensive coordinator. Detroit wants to become a more physical, run-heavy team. That’s typically music to offensive linemen’s ears, and may play to these players’ strengths.
Still, considering the questions the Lions have at left guard, it’s probably safe to say the Lions’ offensive line belongs in the middle of the pack right now.