Our 2023 NFL Draft positional rankings series rolls on and we turn our attention toward the offensive line. The Detroit Lions addressed this area in free agency by bringing back an old friend in Graham Glasgow for a one-year deal worth up to $4.5 million. With Glasgow in and Evan Brown gone, he becomes the Lions’ backup center, but could also win the starting right guard job over Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who will hopefully be back to full health by next season.
The Lions don’t have any immediate need on the offensive line in terms of starters. They have those spots locked down. But with Jonah Jackson’s contract expiring at the end of the year, and Taylor Decker’s contract also up in a couple years, it’s good to have a backup plan. You can never have too many bodies on the offensive line.
If you’ve missed any of the previous installments in our 2023 draft rankings series, be sure to check out:
- Ranking the top 15 cornerbacks
- Ranking the top 14 defensive tackles
- Ranking the top 14 off-ball linebackers
- Ranking the Lions’ best options with the sixth overall pick
Now, let’s take a look at my favorite fits for the Lions on the offensive line in this year’s class:
Peter Skoronski (Northwestern), 6-foot-4, 313 pounds
The only real blemish on Skoronski right now is his lack of arm length—only 32.25 inches, and in the fourth percentile among all OTs—which leads many to believe that he will be better off as an offensive guard than a tackle (he played all of his snaps at left tackle in college). Skoronski is a polished player that should start for most teams, but the Lions are in a position where they already have established starters, so he may not start immediately, depending on how the move to right guard would go for him. You can check out where I have Skoronski on the Lions’ options at six overall and read more about him here.
How he fits: Long-term starting guard. Can fill in at tackle if injuries happen, and could challenge for starting RG spot in Year 1.
Round grade: Top-10 pick
Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State), 6-foot-6, 313 pounds
Johnson has a freakishly long wingspan and the athletic tools to be a long-term starter as a left tackle in the NFL. He did play a full year of right guard for Ohio State in 2021, so the Lions could bring him on as a guard for a couple years. Depending on what the Lions want to do with Taylor Decker’s contract expiring in 2025, Johnson could stay at guard or move to tackle. Either way, we know they love versatility.
Johnson has a lot of work to do on his hand placement—he loves to hug rather than keep his mitts inside—but his footwork and movement skills are the best in his class. It’s unlikely that Johnson will make it to the Lions at 18, so they would probably have to take him at 6 or trade back a few spots and nab him.
How he fits: Long-term starting tackle to maximize his ability and worth, but has guard experience and could challenge for starting RG spot right away.
Round grade: Top-15 pick
Darnell Wright (Tennessee), 6-foot-5, 333 pounds
For his size, Wright’s athleticism is pretty remarkable. He is explosive out of his stance and does a great job of keeping his feet in front of defenders and mirroring their movements.
Darnell Wright is a OT prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.67 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 44 out of 1287 OT from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/MFev2TZUGN #RAS pic.twitter.com/U5LoV09uBT— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 5, 2023
Wright’s draft stock has been picking up a lot of steam for a while now, and when you turn on the tape against Alabama—how he was able to shut down Will Anderson and others—it’s easy to see why. With his impressive size and strength, Wright is a prototypical fit as a right tackle, but can kick inside to guard for the Lions right away.
The Lions met with Wright at the NFL Combine for a formal meeting.
How he fits: Long-term starter at right tackle or guard. Can compete for starting right guard job Year 1.
Round grade: Top-30 pick
Steve Avila (TCU), 6-foot-3, 332 pounds
You’re not going to find a more versatile offensive lineman than Avila this high in the draft, who has played at least one snap at every OL position in college. He’s likely to stick on the interior line—most likely guard, though he spent some time as a center in 2020 and 2021.
Avila’s bread and butter are his fundamentals in pass protection. You’re going to have a tough time bull rushing him because he does a wonderful job of keeping his hands in tight and utilizing his hop step to solidify his anchor. He could use some work as a run blocker, however, as he has a bad habit of getting too high with his pad level as the run develops.
The Lions used one of their top-30 visits on Avila and he projects to be a Day 2 pick. I really love this fit for both parties.
How he fits: Versatile interior offensive lineman that can play center or either guard position.
Round grade: First/second round
O’Cyrus Torrence (Florida), 6-foot-5, 330 pounds
Though Avila and Torrence are both slotted around the early second round range, they have juxtaposing styles and win in different ways. Where Avila is more of a technician and a pass pro specialist right now, Torrence is an absolute mauler in the run game. His hands are massive (98 percentile) and are like vice grips. Once he locks onto you, it’s over.
Torrence has gone on the record saying he’s the “most dominant interior offensive lineman” in this draft, and he may be right. But in the passing game, he still has some work to do. Despite the impressive production (zero sacks given up in 1,501 pass blocking snaps), he may have some struggles at the NFL level due to his average athleticism and foot quickness.
The Lions also plan on meeting with Torrence with one of their top-30 visits. He is grit and strength personified, so I can see the coaching staff really falling in love with him.
How he fits: A guard through and through. Three years of starting experience at right guard, one year at left. Good insurance if/when injuries start to pile up if he can’t win the starting RG job outright.
Round grade: First/second round
Cody Mauch (North Dakota State), 6-foot-5, 302 pounds
Mauch is one of the most athletic offensive linemen in this draft, and one of the wildest-looking dudes you’ve ever seen. He’s like if Tormund Giantsbane and Sami Zayn had a large adult son that had his front two teeth knocked out.
Cody Mauch is a OT prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.32 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 89 out of 1287 OT from 1987 to 2023.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 5, 2023
No official pro day results yet, but I'd expect his RAS to stay in the green.https://t.co/EoVKn7qGE8 #RAS pic.twitter.com/bg7PjVwdER
Think of how the Lions have Penei Sewell out on the move in space and that’s what Mauch is capable of doing for a team. He has a nasty demeanor and will punish you in the run game, but he has too many flaws as a pass protector right now and doesn’t have the desired length to stay at tackle.
How he fits: Backup interior offensive lineman that could develop into a high-level starter someday. Swing tackle in emergency situations.
Round grade: Second round
Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse), 6-foot-5, 318 pounds
Bergeron is yet another versatile lineman option for the Lions that should be available on Day 2. He played both left and right tackle for Syracuse, but his lack of size/length has some projecting him as a guard—stop me if you’ve heard that before. As a run blocker, Bergeron looks athletic and has a mean streak to him, but as a pass protector he’s still very raw and struggles with hand timing and placement.
How he fits: Developmental piece that can back up either tackle spot or play guard.
Round grade: Third round
Chandler Zavala (NC State), 6-foot-3, 325 pounds
After an impressive East-West Shrine Week, Zavala was a surprise snub from the NFL Combine but has seen his stock soar as of late. He was an unknown to many with only a season and a half of experience at NC State, but the tape showcases his potential to be a bruiser in the run game with some impressive athleticism to work with.
Chandler Zavala is a OG prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored an unofficial 9.95 RAS out of a possible 10.00 after his pro day. This ranked 8 out of 1382 OG from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/zueW27yJTr #RAS pic.twitter.com/d9jvhIu60z— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 31, 2023
The Lions used one of their top-30 visits on Zavala.
How he fits: Backup guard. Potential starter down the road.
Round grade: Third/fourth round
Tyler Steen (Alabama), 6-foot-5, 321 pounds
I haven’t really seen Steen connected to the Lions a whole lot, surprisingly. He comes with plenty of starting experience at left tackle and would be a nice addition as a swing tackle that can back up both spots. He is also a candidate to move inside and play some guard (arms are only 32 inches long). Steen is a smart player with good awareness and tested well at the combine.
How he fits: Swing tackle. Can back up both tackle positions. Could move inside and play some guard.
Round grade: Third/fourth round
Andrew Vorhees (USC), 6-foot-6, 310 pounds
Vorhees has been one of the most productive guards in college football over the course of his career with high grading marks from PFF, but a tragic torn ACL injury that occurred during the NFL Combine will almost certainly tank his draft stock. Vorhees wins with his brute strength—he completed 38 (!) bench press reps—but looks fairly unathletic. His ceiling is limited, but he should be a reliable backup and potential starter when healthy.
How he fits: Guard only. Out for most, if not all of Year 1 due to torn ACL injury. Could come back and be a starter in Year 2.
Round grade: Fourth round