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Where offensive line stands heading into offseason

Bob Quinn and the Detroit Lions have some important decisions to make this offseason when it comes the offensive line.

The starting right side of Detroit's line – tackle Riley Reiff and guard Larry Warford – are slated to become free agents in March.

"I mean, I've got my family to think about too," said Warford, who is getting married this offseason, about his future in Detroit right after the season concluded earlier this month. "Starting a family is awesome, and that factors in.

"There's going to be a lot of factors in it, but I'm not thinking too much about it right now. I'm taking my mind off football for awhile, recharge and get ready to hit this offseason pretty good."

But does Warford envision himself being a Detroit Lion in 2017?

"I don't know," he said. "Right now, that's my group. This is obviously a team that has a special place. It's where I got drafted. Started a lot of great relationships here. I think it's a great organization. I love it here. It's the only team I've known so far. I love the guys here."

Warford is planning to let the business side of the game take care of itself, while he focuses on how he can become a better player this offseason.

"All I want to do is block three techniques," he said.

It's an interesting dynamic in Detroit, because there are some young players waiting in the wings, some of whom Quinn assembled himself last offseason.

Warford said it himself that last year's fifth-round pick, Joe Dahl, was the most improved player in the offensive line room this past season, and "is ready to play whenever."

Then there's Graham Glasgow, who Quinn picked up in the third round in last year's draft. He played in all 16 games and started 11 at both center and guard. He could make a big jump in his development from year one to year two.

Former first-round pick Laken Tomlinson is still in the mix, even though he was a bit of a disappointment in year two after losing his starting spot to Glasgow.

Then there's center Travis Swanson, who's proven over his first three seasons that he can play center or guard. Pro Football Focus graded Swanson in the top 12 at the center position this past season before a concussion forced him to miss the team's last five games.

At tackle, Corey Robinson made a lot of progress in year two. He earned the third/swing tackle role, and started the two games at right tackle Reiff missed due to injury. Could he be ready to step into a starting role permanently?

There's also free agency and the draft to consider.

There's really no question the Lions need improved play upfront. This was a line that blocked for the league's 30th ranked rushing attack, and finished 19th among PFF's offensive line rankings this past season.

Detroit finished 14th in STATS, INC's overall protection index for the 2016 season.

"That's the one thing, we didn't run the ball the way we wanted to," Warford said. "We had a few bright spots every once in a while in the run game, but we just need to be more consistent as an offensive line in our techniques and executing our job and playing with that type of finish that our guy isn't going to make the tackle.

"We have to be more aggressive next year with our run game as far as offensive line goes. That's one thing, but I think this group can do it, for sure."

But will Warford be around as part of that growth? What about Reiff? There's likely to be interest for both players if they do in fact reach the open free-agent market.

That's just one of the many decisions Quinn and his staff will have to work out before free agency begins March 9.

"You always try and work on chemistry and continuity and anything that goes into that," Swanson said. "If you look at it, we do have a younger group, but I think we're going to take a step in the right direction and I feel we did this year. It's not where we want to be, but I think we have the makeup to get where we want to be."

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