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O'HARA'S DRAFT PREVIEW: 8 offensive linemen that could interest Lions

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn has said from Day One that he believes games are won and lost in the trenches. That means both lines, offense and defense.

Quinn has invested substantial assets – draft picks and free-agent signings – in both units.

The 2020 class of offensive tackles is top heavy in talent, with a falloff after the top three to five prospects, depending on needs and how they're rated by individual teams.

There is no certain first-round pick among interior linemen.

Quinn referred at the Combine to the "volume" of prospects on the offensive line, and different ways they fit for the present and future.

"Some players are going to plug in and play," he said. "And some are going to be building for tomorrow ... how can we develop them?"

Here is how the Lions' offensive line stands going into the draft, with a breakdown of four tackles, four interior linemen and one sleeper among the prospects – and how they could fit the Lions.

View photos of Mike O'Hara's top 5 offensive line draft prospects that could interest the Lions.

Lions' offensive line draft status: It's not likely to be an early priority, but preparations must be made in case of trades and an unexpected drop by a prospect as a value pick.

Lions depth:

Returning: T Taylor Decker, G Joe Dahl, C Frank Ragnow, G Caleb Benenoch, G Beau Benzschawel, G Josh Garnett, G Oday Aboushi, T Tyrell Crosby, T Dan Skipper, C Russell Bodine (future), T Matt Nelson (future), G Casey Tucker (Future).

Tackle prospects:

1. OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville.

6-7, 364. 5.10 Combine 40.

Stats/breakdown: 3 years, 34 of 37 games. Massive right tackle who can hold the point, protect the QB.

Where he could fit Lions: Not likely to be in the Lions' plans for the No. 3 pick, but size and 40 time make him a prime tackle prospect.

2. OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama.

6-4, 312. 5.05 Combine 40.

Stats/breakdown: 3 years, 29 starts including last last 28 in a row to end his career.

Where he could fit Lions: A productive player with versatility who faced some of the toughest defensive linemen on a weekly basis at Alabama – including in practice against teammates. Played right tackle but got practice reps on the left side to get ready for the NFL.

3. OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa.

6-5, 320. 4.85 Combine 40.

Stats/breakdown: Finished up in 2019 starting 13 games – 10 on the right side, three on the left. First true freshman in the Kirk Ferentz era as head coach to start at either tackle position.

Where he could fit Lions: Primarily a right tackle, but athleticism and natural ability allowed him to play both sides. It's likely he'd have to fall deep into the first round for the Lions to get a shot at him with an extra pick via a trade.

4. OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia.

6-5 315. 5.22 Combine 40.

Stats/breakdown: 3 years, 41 starts beginning with 15 at right tackle as a true 2017 freshman. Switched to the left side in 2018 and started 26 games over his last two seasons.

Where he could fit Lions: Long arms (36-plus inches) and tenacity add value up front, as does versatility. Highly regarded, was voted offensive MVP on a Georgia team that had RB D'Andre Swift and QB Jake Fromm heading to the 2020 draft along with Thomas.

Interior prospects:

1. Center Cesar Ruiz, Michigan.

6-3, 307. 5.08 Combine 40.

Stats/breakdown: 3 years, 5 starts at right guard as a 2017 freshman, all 26 at center his last two seasons. Big hands (11 inches) are an asset. Pass blocking was his strength at Michigan.

Where he could fit Lions: They've shown in the past with Graham Glasgow and Ragnow that they like versatility on the interior with players who can play guard and center. Likely a high second-round pick.

2. Center Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin.

6-4, 314. Did not work out at Combine or Pro Day.

Stats/breakdown: 3 years, started all 41 games at center and played at a high level. Led the way for Jonathan Taylor to rush for more than 6,000 yards in three seasons, most in NCAA history for a player in three straight seasons. Biadasz won the 2019 Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center.

Where he could fit Lions: A notch below Ruiz, Biadasz likely would be an immediate depth addition.

3. Guard John Simpson, Clemson.

6-4, 321. 5.24 Combine 40.

Stats/breakdown: 4 years, 50 games, 29 starts, more than 2,000 snaps. Played left guard last two seasons. Another interior lineman with strength – 34 reps in the Combine bench press. Road-grader type of player.

Where he could fit Lions: A development player, probably available late in the third round or Day 3.

4. Guard Damien Lewis, LSU.

6-2, 327. 5.24 Combine 40.

Stats/Breakdown: 2 years at LSU after transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he excelled on the field and in the classroom. Started 28 games at right guard for LSU. A gritty, tough player with leadership qualities.

Where he could fit Lions: Development and depth prospect who's a strong run blocker.

Sleeper: Guard Netane Muti, Fresno State.

6-3, 315. 44 reps in the Combine bench press.

Where he could fit Lions: Pure development because of injury history. A powerful player who had one full season (2018) and played in only 19 games because of injuries. His talent level likely is greater than his draft position because of injuries.

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