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OL coach Hank Fraley talks Sewell addition, o-line's potential

Assistant coach Hank Fraley's assessment of the Detroit Lions' offensive line is about as standard as it can get in mid-May.

Fraley isn't making any claims about how good it might be.

Based on last year's performance, expectations were high for the unit to take a step forward. And that was before the Lions drafted Oregon star Penei Sewell to play right tackle.

"All I know is, right now we haven't won any games," Fraley said in a Zoom interview session with the Lions' offensive assistant coaches.

"We haven't lost any games. We haven't given up any sacks. But we haven't gained a yard.

"We have a chance to be as good as we want to be with the work we put into it."

What does the addition of Sewell mean? Fraley's comments made it clear that he thinks the Lions have added a player with special talent.

"He should help us out," Fraley said. "He's another piece of the puzzle.

"He has the talent. He has the work ethic to become a really good player. Where it goes from now, we'll see. It's a day to day process.

"He's been great in the Zoom meetings. He's hungry. That's all I can ask for. He's got a chance to be special. The best thing -- he's going to be a great fit in the room."

The Lions' offensive line is stocked with young veterans. Four were drafted by the Lions. Here is a rundown of the offensive line:

Left tackle Taylor Decker, a first-round pick in 2016 out of Ohio State, is the elder statesman on the unit in terms of seniority as a Lion.

The 2020 season was Decker's best. He has become solid as a run blocker and pass protector, and he has room to improve.

Center Frank Ragnow was a first-round pick in 2018 from Arkansas. He was switched to guard as a rookie, then back to his natural center position in 2019.

Ragnow was a good guard and an outstanding center. He made the 2020 Pro Bowl. With his strength, agility and the football IQ necessary to handle the duties that go with playing center, there are even better days ahead for Ragnow.

Left guard Jonah Jackson, a third-round pick in 2020, played his senior season at Ohio State after transferring from Rutgers.

He started all 16 games as a rookie without the benefit of an official offseason program or any preseason games.

Sewell is slated for right tackle, a switch from left tackle, where he played at Oregon.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the leading candidate at right guard. He was signed as a free agent last year to play right tackle but had a disappointing season.

He started 10 games but struggled after sustaining a foot injury before the start of the season.

"He was having a really good training camp," Fraley said. "He had to fight through his injuries. He had to fight through them the whole year.

"He's a large man, and he can move the line of scrimmage."

There is good depth supporting the starters.

Tyrell Crosby has played 38 games with 18 starts since being drafted in the fifth round out of Oregon in 2018. He started 11 games last year.

Matt Nelson, converted from defensive tackle, Dan Skipper and 2020 fourth-round pick Logan Stenberg are among others who could provide depth.

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