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Detroit Lions offensive line ranks in PFF’s top 5 for 2023 season

The Detroit Lions offensive line had a decent 2022 season, but expectations may be even higher in 2023.

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Much of the Detroit Lions’ entire identity is formed by their offensive line. Featuring three first-round picks (Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Penei Sewell), it’s one of their most talented positions, and no one NFL team is spending more cap space on their offensive line than the Lions.

Given all of that, it is little surprise that the Lions' offensive line is getting love from PFF. In their latest offensive line rankings, Detroit’s starting five linemen land fifth out of all 32 teams. For what it’s worth, the Lions ranked third at this time last year.

Author Sam Monson notes that the Lions didn’t leave the top 10 of PFF’s offensive line rankings once during their weekly rankings in the midst of the 2022 season. He also properly notes that it could be even better this year if they can avoid the injuries they had to deal with last year.

“Detroit’s interior was a revolving door last season, with several problems along the way,” Monson wrote. “The return from injury of Halapoulivaati Vaitai at guard could be huge, both literally and figuratively.”

He’s not the only one to note how important the return of Vaitai—who missed all of 2022 with a back injury—could be to the team. Sewell, who has become close friends with Vaitai, thinks he could bring the offensive line to the next level.

“Man, I can’t wait to hopefully put the helmet and jersey on with him again because when we’re out there together, it’s something special,” Sewell said a couple weeks ago.

Last year, the Lions rushed for 4.5 yards per carry (15th) and allowed just 24 sacks—the second-fewest in the NFL. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a single person in that room willing to just coast based on last year’s success.

“It’s boring to say, but it’s not like we can rest on our laurels of last year,” Decker said. “It’s all going to matter what we do going forward, and I would be doing a disservice to myself and my teammates to sit here and say, ‘This is what we’re going to be,’ because that’s just lip service and that doesn’t matter until we go out there and perform.”

That attitude has clearly trickled down from offensive line coach Hank Fraley. This week, Fraley reiterated that there’s always room to improve and that even includes a successful season like 2022.

“There’s a lot to improve on with these guys,” Fraley said. “We weren’t perfect and they know it. There’s a lot we can clean up on. We can be pretty good. We know we can be pretty good, but there’s a lot. We gotta go out there and prove it. “

The four teams ahead of the Lions on PFF’s rankings are the Eagles, Browns, Chiefs, and Ravens. The closest NFC North teams to the Lions are the Packers (eighth) and the Vikings (15th). The Bears have some work to do at 21st.

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