NFL Scouting Combine

2018 draft offers options at interior offensive line

Posted Mar 2, 2018

The Lions could look to the 2018 NFL Draft to add an interior offensive lineman.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Detroit Lions are keeping their options open when it comes to solidifying the final piece of their offensive line in 2018.

General manager Bob Quinn told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine Wednesday that they’ve left the door open on whether veteran Graham Glasgow will play center or guard next season.

“We’ll see how the roster ... the great thing about Graham is he can play both spots,” Quinn said.

“I think he proved that the last two seasons. We’ll see when we get back in April what other guys we have on the team and kind of how Graham fits into the mix.”

The Lions have a decision to make on veteran free agent center Travis Swanson. If they don't re-sign Swanson, whichever position Glasgow doesn’t play – left guard or center – will be the final piece needed to join Glasgow, Taylor Decker, T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner among Detroit’s starters upfront next season. Detroit does have an internal candidate to fill a guard role in third-year player Joe Dahl.

But this happens to be a very good draft class of interior offensive linemen, especially at the top. In fact, the best offensive lineman here at the Combine isn’t a tackle, but rather Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who is considered a Top 10 pick and likely the first lineman to be selected in next month’s NFL draft.

Along with Nelson, there are potentially four interior linemen who could be drafted in the first round, and as many as six or seven in the first two rounds.

“In today's NFL, you've got to protect your quarterback,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said in a recent conference call. “Every quarterback I've talked to in the NFL says what bothers them the most is immediate pressure up the middle.

“So, you've got a guy that can set a physical edge in the middle of your lineup front and allow your quarterback to step up. That's a big deal.”

Nelson said the days when the interior offensive line wasn’t a position of value in the draft are quickly falling by the wayside.

“You have guys dominating the NFL right now in Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox, that have been working on interior guys,” Nelson said. “You need guys to stop them. I’m one of those guys.”

This class has an interior offensive lineman for just about every scheme or need, too. There’s players with position versatility, maulers and even technicians.

One of the maulers, UTEP All-American Will Hernandez, impressed at the Senior Bowl last month, and that’s continued right into the Combine. He’s a 327-pound behemoth with terrific strength, but also has shown to have quick feet. He benched 37 reps of 225 pounds here at the Combine on Thursday, but then went out and ran 5.14 seconds in 40-yard dash at his size on Friday.

Former Georgia tackle Isaiah Wynn (6-2, 313) has moved to the interior because of his height and arm length, but he played tackle at a high level in the SEC, despite his size.

“Teams are looking for guys who are more athletic at guard,” Wynn said of what might impress teams about his game.

The Lions could certainly be in a position where they're looking to come out of the first two days of the draft with a plug-and-play interior offensive lineman capable of being the final piece to their puzzle upfront on offense.