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2019 Position Breakdown: Offensive line

The good: Most people thought entering the season that Detroit's offense would take some time to come together under the new scheme Darrell Bevell was installing.

To Bevell's credit, and to the credit of every player on the offensive side of the ball, that unit hit the ground running. They were playing well with quarterback Matthew Stafford under center the first half of the season.

Detroit's offensive line was playing pretty consistent football, helping propel Detroit to a top 10 offense and top five passing offense before the team lost Stafford due to injury.

Frank Ragnow had a breakout second season. The move from guard to his more natural center position proved to be a terrific move for both Ragnow and the Lions. Ragnow finished the year as the third highest graded center in football by Pro Football Focus behind only Tampa Bay's Ryan Jensen and Philadelphia's Jason Kelce.

View photos of the Detroit Lions' offensive line from the 2019 season.

Detroit's coaching staff did a nice job early in the season rotating in reserve guard Kenny Wiggins and swing tackle Tyrell Crosby. It was smart to get those guys some work early on, so when they needed to step into starting roles later in the year due to injury, they'd already been worked into the mix and weren't coming in cold.

Detroit finished 15th out of 32 teams in STATS INC.'s protection index, an analytic stat that measures offensive line play using different statistical elements like passing attempts and yards (excluding yards after the catch), sacks, quarterback knockdowns, hurries and penalties, including holding and false starts.

The bad: Detroit's 43 sacks allowed were on the high side. The league average was 40, and Detroit finished ranked 19th in sacks allowed. 

While Detroit was consistent in their willingness to be balanced and stick with the run game on a weekly basis, the results weren't as consistent. Detroit finished 21st in rushing, averaging just over 100 yards (103.1) on the ground per game.

Not one of Detroit's five starters upfront Week 1 played a full slate of games in 2019. Ragnow, Graham Glasgow and Taylor Decker each missed one game due to injury. Joe Dahl missed three and Rick Wagner missed four.

Key stat: The Lions overall successful plays percentage of 46.3 percent ranked 21st in the NFL.

Free agents: Glasgow is the only starter upfront slated to hit free agency. Reserves Wiggins and Oday Aboushi are also unrestricted free agents.

Glasgow's been a good, versatile player since the Lions selected him in the third round in 2016. He can play both guard spots and center, and finished 2019 graded in the top 15 at the guard position by PFF. It will be interesting to see what the market looks like for Glasgow. Starting-caliber guards have been paid pretty handsomely over the last couple free agent cycles.

Draft: Decker is currently slated to play on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. Wagner has just two years left on the five-year deal he signed in free agency in 2017. The Lions could certainly be in the market to make upgrades along their offensive line.

Georgia's Andrew Thomas is considered the top offensive tackle prospect in this draft. Alabama's Alex Leatherwood and Iowa's Tristan Wirfs are also considered first-round talents at tackle.

There is no Quenton Nelson in this draft. Nelson was a no-brainer top 10 pick out of Notre Dame in 2018, and has quickly become the best guard in the game.

Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz is probably the best interior offensive line prospect currently in the draft. Ben Bredeson (Michigan), John Simpson (Clemson) and Netane Muti (Fresno State) are a few others to keep an eye on later on in the draft.

MVP: Ragnow has become Detroit's most consistent offensive lineman in only his second season. The former first-round pick was much more at home playing center than he was at guard as a rookie in 2018.

Ragnow's already one of the best run-blocking centers in the game. He allowed only two sacks in pass protection all season.

Most improved: I'll give the nod to Dahl here. Dahl did a terrific job last offseason transforming his body to better handle the rigors of playing guard in the NFL. He dropped his body fat considerably and added muscle mass. It earned him a two-year contract extension and a starting job at left guard. Dahl is still a work in progress, but he's come a long way in a year.

Quotable: "It's been a long year and I'd like to feel like – I'd like to kind of feel like I'm wanted, sort of," Glasgow told reporters of his pending free agency after Detroit's final game of the season. "So, yeah. It's been – it's just been a long year and ideally – we kind of need to talk about it."

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