MOBILE, Ala. – Hank Fraley had an 11-year career as an offensive lineman for four different teams. He's been an offensive line coach at the college level, but he's getting his first opportunity to run an NFL offensive line room this season with the Detroit Lions.
Fraley's served as Jeff Davidson's assistant offensive line coach the last two seasons, but with Davidson stepping away from coaching this offseason, Fraley now steps into the lead role in Detroit's offensive line room.
"I just want to go out there and coach and give it my best effort to these guys," Fraley said after Wednesday's North Team practice at the Senior Bowl. "Back in Detroit, I have a great room there, starting with (Taylor) Decker, the leadership he has, (Frank) Ragnow, all those guys.
"Coaching them is fun. It's a fun environment. When they are back in the building there's a good vibe to it."
The Lions have a pretty veteran group returning under contract upfront next season. Starting with left tackle Taylor Decker, left guard Joe Dahl, center Frank Ragnow and right tackle Rick Wagner. The only starter from last season who's a free agent is right guard Graham Glasgow.
Having a mostly veteran group helps a first-year position coach.
"I'm not going to lie, I'm very excited," Fraley said. "It's a great opportunity. Just nothing changes. Grinding. I'm not going to change. Keep coaching like I did before.
"I learned from the stuff that Jeff (Davidson) has instilled in me as a coach, even as a player ... mesh it all together and be myself. I was a grinder as a player and I want to grind as a coach. Try to become great at this."
View photos of Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay and wide receiver Kenny Golladay during NFC Pro Bowl practice Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020.
Fraley and the Lions are heading into year two under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's schemes, which should make things much easier this offseason. This year isn't about installing, it's about tweaking and diving deeper into the scheme, something Fraley seemed excited about.
Just like we talk about players taking a big jump in development from year one to year two in the league, it's the same for coaches in the second year of a scheme change. Fraley may be a first-time position coach, but he's familiar with the schemes Bevell installed, and that should allow him and the offensive line room to hit the ground running when they get back to Allen Park in April.
"The less you have to think the faster you get to play," Fraley said. "I think year two is always a big help. I love to get down in that (offensive line) room. I feel very comfortable in that o-line room. My whole life I've been an o-lineman."