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Decker on board if Lions take OL in first round: 'I'd love it'

The Detroit Lions' offensive line is arguably its most talented and deepest position group heading into the NFL Draft later this week.

Left tackle Taylor Decker finished last season as the 12th highest graded tackle by Pro Football Focus. He signed a six-year extension last season. Frank Ragnow earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2020. Rookie third-round pick left guard Jonah Jackson played all 16 games as a rookie and was very solid. The team will likely move veteran tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai to right guard, where he should play well after fighting through injury most of last season.

Tyrell Crosby and Matt Nelson are internal candidates to fill the right tackle spot, but Lions general manager Brad Holmes could also look to add to that unit via the No. 7 overall pick in Thursday's first round of the draft. Two players who could be available to Detroit there are Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell and Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater.

"Take a lineman in the first round," Decker said in a Zoom call Tuesday. "A couple years after me they took Frank (Ragnow) and Frank turns out to be a Pro Bowl guy. He's one of my best friends. Take all the linemen in the draft, I love it, because I'm an offensive lineman and I see a lot of value in that position. I'd love it."

The addition of a Sewell or Slater could solidify the offensive line for years to come and potentially give the Lions one of the best, young OLs in the game. That's not a bad way to kick off the Holmes and Dan Campbell era in Detroit.

Sewell opted out of the 2020 season but was the Outland Trophy Winner and Associated Press Pac-12 Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2019. He allowed just one sack combined in 2018 and 2019 in 1,376 snaps.

Slater is the No. 7 overall prospect in NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's ranking of the top 50 players in the draft. He's the best offensive tackle on that list. Like Sewell, Slater opted out of the 2020 season, but in a full season in 2019 he allowed zero sacks, one quarterback hit, and five hurries, totaling just six pressures in 11 games started at left tackle. He played both left and right tackle at Northwestern, so he's got some position flexibility. He started 37 games total in his college career. 

Overall, this is a terrific class of offensive linemen in the draft. In his annual prospect rankings, The Athletic's Dane Brugler has 15 tackles with at least a third-round grade in this draft, so even if Holmes passes on one Thursday, there's an opportunity to double back in Day 2 and get an impact player. Brugler has at least a third-round grade on 11 guards and six centers as well.

This is a good draft for offensive linemen, and while it's not at the top of the need list for the Lions, having a deep and talented offensive line just seems to make everything so much easier on that side of the ball.

Count Decker in that crowd who'd like to see the Lions add at least one more player to the room to solidify that unit heading into 2021. 

"If we can add talent at any position, wherever it may be, let's do it," he said. "I know there are talented guys and whoever the organization deems can be a help and add value to the team, I'm all for it."

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