LIONS INSIDER

Position Preview: Offensive Tackles

Posted Jul 19, 2013

With several new faces along the offensive line heading into training camp, Tim Twentyman takes a look the offensive tackles in the mix

Fresh faces will litter the Detroit Lions’ offensive line this season and that will include new faces at both tackle spots.

One of the better competitions in training camp will be for that starting right tackle spot and some of the backup spots.

We continue our look at the Lions roster, with training camp a week away, by taking a closer look at the offensive tackle position.

ROSTER (5)

NameHtWtAgeExp.College
Jason Fox 6-6 314 25 4 Miami (Fla.)
Corey Hilliard 6-6 300 28 5 Oklahoma State
Austin Holtz 6-5 301 23 R Ball State
Riley Reiff 6-6 313 24 2 Iowa
LaAdrian Waddle 6-6 321 21 R Texas Tech

BY THE NUMBERS

83.3: Percent of the time last year the Lions scored a touchdown with a first down at or inside the 5-yard line. The league average was 79.3 percent.
12: Holding penalties in 2012, which was the 12th-fewest among the 32 teams.
49.6: Percent of successful plays on offense last year, according to Stats, LLC., ninth-best in league.

THE GOOD AND THE BAD

The good: The Lions gave up the ninth-fewest sacks in the NFL last season with only 29. That number looks even better when you consider they threw the ball 740 times.
The bad: The Lions didn’t have enough explosive plays in the run game last year. Only four runs went for 20-plus yards. There are a number of different culprits over many positions that had a hand in that number, but the offensive line and the tackles have to take some of the ownness, too.
The fix: No matter who ends up winning the starting tackle jobs – the favorites seem to be Reiff and Fox – the Lions are going to be more athletic at the edges. The immediate benefit to that is the ability to pull and trap and get to the second and third levels. The screen game should be vastly improved, too, with the addition of more athleticism on the edge.

QUOTE SHEET

"When you have competition, it brings out the best in people. That’s how teams really thrive. If you have guys that get complacent and aren’t really competing for a job (that was) handed to them, they aren’t going to be working as hard, I think."

-- Corey Hilliard speaking to Detroitlions.com about the right tackle competition.

THE DEPTH CHART

Riley Reiff is going to be given every opportunity to win the left tackle job after the team spent their No. 1 draft pick on him in 2012. Reiff has added muscle mass and weight this offseason in anticipation of taking over for the retired Jeff Backus this season. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of worries within the organization about Reiff and his abilities to protect Matthew Stafford's blindside.

Jason Fox and Corey HilliardTackles Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard

The right side is wide open and Fox and Hilliard will have quite the battle in training camp for that spot. The Lions drafted Fox with the idea that he’d one day be a starter and that might give him a slight edge over Hilliard at the onset of camp.

But it will be their play in padded practices and the preseason that ultimately determine the winner. The Lions have been waiting for Fox to get past his injury woes and it seems he’s gotten there – but can it last?

After Reiff, Fox and Hilliard, the Lions are looking for someone to emerge. Waddle is an interesting prospect. He’s a big man and the Lions have liked him throughout the evaluation process, using one of their 30 allotted pre-draft visits to bring him in. They immediately signed him after he went undrafted.

2013 POSITION PREVIEWS