One of the things the Detroit Lions value in their players is position versatility. That’s across the board at all positions, but one place where it tends to show up more often is on the interior of the offensive line. The ability to play both guard spots and center is a trait the Lions and most teams across the league value in a player.
Graham Glasgow, Frank Ragnow and Kenny Wiggins, the top three players on the Lions’ depth chart along the interior of their offensive line, have that trait.
Glasgow started all 16 games at center last season, missing just one snap. He played both left guard and center as a rookie in 2016, and played both spots again in 2017 before moving to center full-time in 2018.
Ragnow, the team’s first-round pick last season, played all but one snap at left guard as a rookie, but was drafted as a center out of Arkansas.
Wiggins filled in for 10 games at the right guard spot last season when starter T.J. Lang was injured. He’s played both guard spots throughout his career.
During Tuesday’s open OTA practice, Ragnow was playing center, Glasgow played right guard, and Wiggins lined up at left guard.
“We evaluate a lot of players at a lot of different positions,” head coach Matt Patricia said of the movement upfront this spring before Tuesday’s practice. “The spring is a great time to do that.
“Frank knew how to play center last year, too. So, that was really good for us, just in case those situations come up. Graham (Glasgow), he cross-trains at guard. He’s played guard before in the league. So, he’s got a little bit more experience than Frank does playing center in the NFL right now.”
Patrica said he is using this spring as an opportunity to get a look at all different sorts of combinations among the players they have along the interior. Whether or not Ragnow’s move to center and Glasgow’s move to guard will stand true through training camp is yet to be determined, per Patricia.
“I think it adds value to you as a person the more you can do,” Ragnow said. “I’m just trying to fit my role, whatever role they chose. We’ve kind of cross trained my whole time here. It’s just kind of wherever they are telling me to go, I’ll go. It’s kind of been throughout the spring we’re moving around and everything.”
Those guys all have position flexibility, and the Lions will evaluate the competition and ultimately find the best five players upfront.
“The thing about Graham (6-6, 307) ... he’s actually, he’s very long. He’s tall. He’s got good, short-space quickness, which in the guard position is really good, especially against some of the quicker defensive tackles that we’re seeing nowadays,” Patricia said.
“He’s very intelligent, very smart. When you’re a center, you’re the guy that’s usually directing the traffic between all five guys, so understanding that position helps him be a better guard and his ability to then communicate out to the tackles, and some of the protection looks is also real valuable from that standpoint.”
Teams value having options, especially when it comes to the 46-man gameday roster. It's something Patricia values, and wants to continue to develop.