Friendship has proven to be stronger than job status for Detroit Lions offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby.
That sentiment was put to a stern test when the Lions drafted offensive tackle Penei Sewell in the first round on April 29.
There was a bond between Crosby and Sewell. Both played at Oregon. They became friends, even though they never were teammates.
The 2017 season was Crosby's last season at Oregon, and he was drafted by the Lions in the fifth round in 2018 – the year that Sewell arrived at Oregon as one of the most acclaimed offensive line prospects in the country.
Crosby had begun to establish himself as a valuable backup on the Lions' offensive line while Sewell was building his reputation at Oregon.
Crosby reached his peak in the 2020 season when he started a career-high 11 games at right tackle. In most circumstances, Crosby could have expected to return to the Lions this year as the top candidate to start at right tackle.
That is not the case. Sewell is being prepared to start at right tackle.
That could have caused a split in the friendship between Crosby and Sewell. It hasn't.
"Seeing him when he got drafted, I was probably one of the happiest people on earth," Crosby said Tuesday after the first practice of the three-day mandatory minicamp.
"That was my friend who got drafted. Seeing him at Oregon, everything he's done at Oregon, I'm super excited to see him grow in this league."
Crosby was asked what his thoughts were about his own situation when he saw that the Lions had taken Sewell with the seventh overall pick.
"In that moment for me ... football is finite for me," Crosby said. "But friendship is forever. He's a great friend of mine. I wasn't thinking anything football related.
"I was just so excited to see my friend, who I know had put in so much work, get the opportunity he deserved—to get drafted in the first round.
"That's a special feeling. I was a fifth-round guy. I can't fully relate. All the hard work paid off (for Sewell). He's a friend. That's all paid off for him."
The Lions have steadily built one of the NFL's better offensive lines, and they've done it primarily through the draft. Four full-time starters have been drafted by the Lions – left tackle Taylor Decker, left guard Jonah Jackson, center Frank Ragnow and Sewell at right tackle.
Right guard is the only position that's open going into training camp.
View photos from first day of Lions minicamp on Tuesday, June 8th.
Crosby has climbed the rungs steadily with his performance as a quality backup. He had two starts as a rookie, five in 2019 and his high of 11 last year when injuries hit the right side of the line.
There have been reports that the Lions have had discussions about trading Crosby, but he said Tuesday it's not something he has given much thought.
He is also willing to switch to guard, if that's where the coaches want him to play.
"I haven't really thought about it," Crosby said of trade talks. "I have no control over that. My position right now is take every day at a time and go out and compete.
"Nothing is set in stone. I really like to go out and compete, since I first got here in 2018. Whatever my role is for the team, I've gone out to the best of my ability.
"Whatever they call on me for, they know there's an opportunity for a reason. For me, I just take the best opportunity I can."