ALLEN PARK – The Detroit Lions spent $ 45 million on their supposed right tackle from the future, then back-to-back picks on guards in last year’s draft.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai missed six games and ended up playing 114 more right guard snaps. The addition of free agent allowed 15 pressures over 450 repetitions, allowing six sacks and three quarterback hits. Tyrell Crosby impressed on the right tackle in Vaitai’s absence, but injuries opened the door for a handful of names to see the time on the right side of the line.
It wasn’t that bad on the Detroit offensive line, however. Taylor Decker became one of the best left tackles in the league after signing an overtime. Frank Ragnow reached the Pro Bowl, reaching another level in the third year. Rookie Jonah Jackson was the other steady hand, seeing time on both sides of the line after a strong start. Logan Stenberg, the team’s other rookie goalkeeper, failed to save a single offensive shot despite a constant stream of missing bodies on the line.
Crosby has one year left on the contract and Vaitai is one year away from his five-year, $ 45 million contract. Joe Dahl, a former incumbent in custody, also has another year on his contract.
However, it is not excluded that this team is looking for tackle depth. Whether it’s with Pick 7 or not remains to be seen, but it’s a topic worth exploring for a team that seems determined to hammer the rock to move forward.
“I think the offensive line on the offensive side of the ball is the deepest position so it will be important to run the game and make it work effectively,” Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said. “Because I believe the more you can run, the more you can throw it. “
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Penei Sewell is considered by many to be the offensive line’s best prospect, but comes with some intrigue after retiring from pandemic football. Sewell’s recording of his first and second year campaigns is hard to ignore. He allowed just seven presses of 491 pass-blocking snaps in 2019, most importantly, never more than two in a single game.
Sewell is listed at 6ft 6in, 330lb, while playing with an impressive level of athleticism. It’s worth noting that former Lions general manager Bob Quinn signed Vaitai, so it’s impossible to know how Brad Holmes or Dan Campbell see the right tackling position. Sewell doesn’t slip too far on day 1 so this is a choice 7 or pickup situation and nothing else. Brandon Thorn of the newsletter on the trench warfare and to establish the race rated Sewell’s play, calling his combination of skill and age “special and worthy of the top 10”.
Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
Spencer Brown was 6-foot-8, 314 pounds in the Senior Bowl, and you can’t teach that. Brown didn’t have a chance to play last season due to the northern Iowa season cancellation. He was a preseason All-American, which is quite the trajectory for someone playing a tight / defensive line in High school 8-a-side football in Lenox, Iowa Few years ago.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper ranks Brown 10th on the best tackles of his last ranking. He’s probably fighting for draft positioning on Draft Days 2 and 3, but could serve as a worthy draft with desirable size, length and athleticism. Brown is considered by some to be a better choice for the right tackle to the next level. The prospect of a small school impressed in Mobile, draw a scream former 49ers tackle and center Michigan star Joe Staley in the process.
Wyatt Davis, OG, State of Ohio
Wyatt Davis is one of the most accomplished offensive linemen in the class this year and has hardly played this season due to the pandemic. After the Big Ten called off fall football, he declared himself for the draft but ultimately opted out once the conference changed course. Davis is a two-time member of the All-American and All-Big Ten First Team, the 2020 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and a member of the Big Ten Network’s All-Decade Team.
ESPN ranks Davis No. 3 among guards, knocking him down two spots in Kiper’s final notes. It comes down to what the new staff thinks about Stenberg’s future. If Davis landed in Detroit, he would reunite with his former college teammate on the Ohio State line at Jonah Jackson. Daniel Jérémie from NFL Network compared Davis to David DeCastro, who has six Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams in nine seasons, for what it’s worth.
Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
Jalen Mayfield starts to have love as a potential pick late in Day 1, which could lead him away from the Detroit lineup. If the Grand Rapids native were to fall, however? It’s hard not to view Mayfield as a potential prospect who could move inside or provide tackling depth. He was limited to two games in 2020 due to a lower-body injury but still placed 68th out of PFF’s Top 100 Prospects and fifth in Kiper’s tackling chart. Mayfield started 15 straight tackle games in Ann Arbor, winning the 2019 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.
The Lions have two third-round picks thanks to the Matthew Stafford trade, so keep an eye out for declining offensive linemen in April.
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Speaking of decorated offensive linemen, Alex Leatherwood has been a fixture in the Alabama trenches for the past four seasons. He’s a two-time national champion, not to mention a former Outland Trophy winner as the top interior lineman in college football. Leatherwood has started 41 straight games stretching back to 2018, making one All-American and two All-SEC first-team teams along the way.
He was 6ft 5in and 312lb in the Senior Bowl. ESPN ranks Leatherwood as the sixth best goalie in this class, projecting himself best in the out-of-gate pass blocking department. He’s a great man with a talent for athletics who comes with top honors against the best college football has had to offer. PFF had Leatherwood with 15 presses allowed heading into this year’s CFP semi-final game, five more than he had allowed his entire junior campaign. He had other echoes on the radar in the last campaign, but it’s hard to imagine him falling too far after all this sustained success at stake for Nick Saban.