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Lions could continue to strengthen OL via draft

INDIANAPOLIS – The Detroit Lions could work this offseason to re-sign veteran starting guards Jonah Jackson and Graham Glasgow. If signed, Jackson and Glasgow, along with returning center Frank Ragnow and tackles Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker would continue to give the Lions one of the best starting five upfront in the NFL.

But after the season general manager Brad Holmes talked about how important it was to continue to stack talent in that room.

"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.

"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."

With the Lions currently holding the 29th pick in the first round of April's NFL Draft, that could be a spot where the best player available on their board is an offensive lineman in a very deep class.

The tackle class is extremely deep. There are going to be starting tackles Week 1 of the season available in this draft into Day 2. Decker, 30, is currently slated to enter the 2024 season on the final year of his contract.

At the end of the first round might also be a great spot to add depth, and maybe a starter depending on how free agency goes, to the mix along the interior. The team also needs to think about the long-term plan at center with Ragnow dealing with long-term injuries.

This year's class of interior linemen is talented and filled with versatile players who can play guard and center.

Washington tackle Troy Fautanu is projected by some to bump inside in the NFL, and he has experience playing guard. More and more teams value versatile linemen upfront given the roster restrictions on gameday.

Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson (6-3, 334) played all three interior spots for the Ducks and there are few holes in his game. His toughness and play style would fit in perfectly in that room.

Powers-Johnson talked Saturday at the Combine about the potential of joining an already established unit like Detroit's and how beneficial that can be for a young player coming into the league.

"It's huge just knowing that you're going to an organization that has a great offensive line and a great team," he said. "It's humbling to even think I could be part of something like that. Especially have a guy like No. 58 Penei Sewell coming from Oregon. It's really an honor just to be in the conversation."

View photos of the linebackers at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

Zach Frazier (6-3, 314) from West Virginia, Duke's Graham Barton (6-5, 314) and Michigan's Zak Zinter (6-6, 322) are a few other names to watch out for that could be terrific value and fits at 29 or selections in Day 2. Frazier didn't allow a sack this past season in 447 pass block snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Barton played center and left tackle at Duke but is projected to slide more inside in the pros. Zinter was one of the more physically dominant interior players for a Michigan offensive line that was one of the best in college football.

"It's a big transition from the college to the NFL, so if you've got good guys in front of you that you know you can look up to and you can try to build from and learn from just get little insights of how to be (a pro) in the NFL," Zinter said of the potential of joining an established offensive line room like Detroit's. "Those guys have been doing it for a long time and have been successful at it. Being able to find somewhere to latch on to and help transition into the NFL."

Detroit needs to build up their talent and depth on defense this offseason, but keeping their offensive line the biggest strength, both in the present and future, should also be a high priority.

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