After it looked like the Detroit Lions skimped out on the guard position in free agency—letting Graham Glasgow walk while only re-signing veterans to low, short-term deals—the team went hard at the position in the draft, taking interior offensive linemen with back-to-back mid-round picks.
As a result, the guard situation heading into training camp is pretty unknown. There is no firm starter on either side with several different possible combinations on the horizon.
Here’s our 2020 Lions training camp preview for guards and centers.
Previously: Quarterbacks, running backs, tight end, wide receivers, offensive tackles
Roster locks: Frank Ragnow, Joe Dahl, Kenny Wiggins, Jonah Jackson, Logan Stenberg
On the bubble: Oday Aboushi, Russell Bodine, Beau Benzschawel
Long shot: Caleb Benenoch, Josh Garnett
Key departures: Graham Glasgow
Okay, who is starting?
Frank Ragnow. Good, glad we got that out of the way.
No, but what about the guard positions?
Oh, right. So both the starters are completely up in the air right now. Jonah Jackson is probably the safest bet to earn one of the starting positions, but the shortened offseason could put his rookie season on delay.
Further complicating things is the fact that many of the players on this team could play either position. Jackson played left guard at Ohio State, right guard at Rutgers. Oday Aboushi played a little of both last year (though mostly left guard). Kenny Wiggins played a lot of both last year.
At this point, we may see Joe Dahl start camp on the left side with Kenny Wiggins on the right, simply because the Lions may want some experience players in position to open up camp. However, it’s important to remember that in the past, Detroit has thrown rookies right into the mix of things right away. So don’t be surprised to see something like Jackson-Ragnow-Wiggins or Dahl-Ragnow-Jackson on Day 1
Okay, but no guard rotation, right?
I’m sorry to tell you that I cannot guarantee the guard rotation is gone. In fact, because of the shortened offseason, it’s quite possible that the Lions rotate Jackson in with the two veteran guards in Dahl and Wiggins.
With Graham Glasgow gone, there is no clear backup center on the roster. That job will likely be between Beau Benzschawel, who was learning the position towards the end of last season, and veteran Russell Bodine, who has made 74 career starts.
Given we already have five “roster locks,” it’s quite possible that the final roster spot among interior offensive linemen could be between these two, depending on how many Detroit decides to keep.
Day 1 starting lineup: Jackson-Ragnow-Wiggins. The Lions likely want to get Jackson ready as early as possible, and he held his own in a competitive Big 10 last year at that position. No reason to put training wheels on him to start.
As for the roster spots, give me the five “roster locks” plus Benzschawel. It seems like he was their long-term plan at center, and they were happy with his development. Bodine is legitimate competition, though, and Benzschawel’s practice squad eligibility could work against him.