It is a literal changing of the guard in Detroit.
Right guard Graham Glasgow departed in free agency, and the Lions were in desperate need of support along the interior heading into the offseason. The Lions could even warrant an upgrade at left guard over Joe Dahl, who was merely decent.
Some of the top guards on the market, like Joe Thuney or Brandon Scherff, never actually reached the market, being franchised beforehand. With a pretty bare guard free agency pool, the Lions opted to improve their interior in the draft.
And they did it twice.
A Day 2 pick on a guard was an expected move for the Lions, and they used their second third-round pick on Jonah Jackson. Many assumed he would slot into the vacant right guard slot, and the Lions would have their offensive line of Decker, Dahl, Ragnow, Jackson, and Vaitai. Then on Day 3 of the draft, the Lions doubled-down on the position, drafting Logan Stenberg.
Suddenly, the battle for both guard positions was wide open.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Who will be the Lions’ starting guards?
My answer: I believe that Joe Dahl and Jonah Jackson will be their starting guards. However, I do not expect the term “starter” to mean they play every snap.
The Lions loved utilizing a guard rotation in 2019 with Kenny Wiggins, Dahl, and Glasgow. 2020 could be a similar case, and you could argue that they have a better lineup to do it with. Throwing two rookies into starting roles off the bat is not a wise choice, so expect Dahl to start at left guard, albeit on a short leash. Jackson and Stenberg, as well as the likes of Wiggins, Beau Benzschawel, Oday Aboushi, and Joshua Garnett, will battle for that right guard spot. The loser of that battle will likely be part of the guard rotation, so additional snaps might be found as the season progresses.
Jackson has the advantage right now. His earlier draft position will likely entice some, but the biggest reason is that he is more polished than Stenberg right now, while having more talent than the other backups. Preseason—if we have one — could be huge to see which player is ready for the jump to the pros. Right now, Jackson looks like the better immediate fit.