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2023 position breakdown: Offensive line

The good: The offensive line continues to be one of the biggest strengths of this Detroit Lions football team.

Left tackle Taylor Decker, left guard Jonah Jackson, center Frank Ragnow, right guard Graham Glasgow and right tackle Penei Sewell were one of the best starting five upfront in the NFL this season.

The Lions only surrendered 31 sacks on 646 dropbacks (4.8 percent), the fourth best rate in the NFL. Only Buffalo (3.7), Kansas City (3.9) and Green Bay (4.6) were better.

The Lions finished second in the NFL with 869 rushing yards before contact this season and led the NFL with 16 games of at least 325 total net yards, which tied for the most a team has had in a season in NFL history.

Detroit's 27 rushing touchdowns tied Miami and San Francisco for the NFL lead and their 4.62-yard average per rush was fifth best.

Sewell was named All-Pro for the first time in his career and is the best right tackle in the NFL in just his third season. Ragnow was also All-Pro and both Decker and Jackson were Pro Bowl alternates. Glasgow had arguably his best season as a pro in 2023.

Detroit finished top five in the NFL in both rushing and passing. That doesn't happen without one of the most productive and versatile offensive lines in football.

The Lions also showed they have good depth, with Dan Skipper, Kayode Awosika, Colby Sorsdal and Matt Nelson all stepping into the lineup at points this season and holding down the fort.

View photos of the Detroit Lions offensive line from the 2023 NFL season.

The bad: Injuries were an issue at times this season with the group.

The Lions started nine different combinations upfront with their top five of Decker, Jackson, Ragnow, Glasgow and Sewell starting less than half of the games together (8 games).

In goal-to-go scoring opportunities inside the five-yard line this season the Lions ranked just 19th, converting those into touchdowns 78.9 percent of the time. Detroit was also 19th converting 3rd & 1 and 4th & 1 (66.7 percent). On 3rd & 1 they ranked 25th.

Key stat: Detroit scored at least 20 points in 14 games this season, tied for the most in the NFL. They reached the 30-point mark nine times, second behind only Dallas (10).

MVP: Frank Ragnow

This one could really go either way between Ragnow and Sewell, but what Ragnow does in terms of his preparation and getting the line in all the right protections upfront stands out.

Ragnow wants the game plan early in the week and his film prep sets him apart. Couple that with his immense talent – one sack and six quarterback hits allowed all season – all while battling through toe, ankle, knee and back injuries, it's no wonder Ragnow's considered the best center in the game today.

"I think when you see all the fun stuff we're able to do on offense, and without him, we're not able to do it," Lions quarterback Jared Goff said of Ragnow. "He gets us – he points us out the MIKE and gets us in the right place. He's as important to our offense as anybody.

"It is a lot of fun working throughout the week with him on how he sees things, how I see things, certainly pass-protection, how we're going to do things. And yeah, it makes it fun."

Most improved: Graham Glasgow

This is usually reserved for young players coming into their own, not an eight-year veteran, but Glasgow went from being beaten out in training camp for the starting right guard spot by Halapoulivaati Vaitai to being an invaluable part of this offensive line starting at all three interior spots before taking over the right guard spot permanently. He even said after the season this was probably his best work of his career.

Free agents: Jackson (unrestricted), Glasgow (unrestricted), Nelson (unrestricted), Skipper (unrestricted), Vaitai (unrestricted), Awosika (exclusive rights).

There are some big names on that list. Jackson wasn't available to talk during locker clean out day last week, but Glasgow was and said there's mutual interest in him returning in 2024. That will likely require a pay increase on the Lions' part.

Jackson could draw interest from the free-agent market and the Lions will have to make a decision there. Awosika should be back to compete for a guard spot. Detroit could also add another veteran to compete.

Nelson and Skipper have been the primary swing tackles the last couple years and have been good fits in that room.

Draft: The Lions are in a unique spot with the 29th pick in the draft in that there could be terrific value there to continue to build the offensive line for the long-term future.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes said that's a priority this offseason in his end-of-season press conference this week.

Instead of getting maybe the fourth or fifth cornerback or pass rusher late in the first round, the 20s are prime spots where we see the top interior offensive linemen start to come off the board. Maybe one of those players ends up being high on Holmes' board, which he always trusts come draft time.

Quotable: "That's what our team is. I mean, our offensive line, us being able to protect the quarterback and run the football like we do, that's extremely important," Holmes said this week. "And so, that's definitely going to be one that – that'll be an area that will not be overlooked. As good as it has been in the past, just those points that you've raised, it's definitely going to be a point of emphasis still."

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