The Detroit Lions Offensive Line – The Starting Five

The biggest strength of the Detroit Lions is their offensive line. Former GM Bob Quinn, despite all his warts, did a great job drafting offensive linemen and Brad Holmes put the final pieces of the puzzle in place. The Lions have one of the best, if not the best, starting five in the league. Let’s take a look at the line, saving the best of the bunch for last.

Lions Offensive Line – The Starting Five

#5 Kevin Zeitler

The new man in the group, Zeitler was signed in free agency to replace Jonah Jackson. Holmes inked Zeitler to a one-year, $6 million contract and will be the starter at right guard. The 34-year-old might be long in the tooth, but he had a solid 2023 campaign. Pro Football Focus (PFF) rated the 12-year veteran the 15th-best guard in the league last season and excels as a pass blocker.

#4 Graham Glasgow 

Glasgow was drafted by Quinn in the third round of the 2016 draft, left in free agency, and was signed to a one-year deal by Holmes prior to the 2023 season. He had the best season of his career in 2023, manning the right guard position but will switch to left guard with the signing of Zeitler. Glasgow is versatile and can play all three positions on the interior of the line. Bringing him back was an excellent move. The former Michigan Wolverine wanted to remain a Lion and didn’t care about testing the free agent waters. Holmes re-signed Glasgow to a three-year contract worth $20 million.

#3 Taylor Decker

Drafted 18th overall in the 2016 draft, he is the Lions’ longest-tenured player and one of their best. Being the third best lineman on the roster isn’t a slight to Decker, he’s an excellent left tackle. PFF had Decker as the number nine tackle in the league with a ranking of 81.1. Decker is in the last year of his contract in Detroit, which is a concern since there is a lot of talent of younger talent on the roster that needs to be re-signed. It might be his last year in Detroit. I hope it’s not, but there is only so much money to go around. 

#2 Frank Ragnow

Ragnow is the best center in the NFL and it was very hard not to put him as the top lineman on the team. Selected 20th overall in the 2018 draft, Ragnow had been one of the best in the business since he entered the league.

He might be the toughest player in the NFL and has played, and produced at an elite level through all kinds of injuries. He fractured his throat in the first quarter of a game back in 2020 and kept on playing. He played the 2023 season with an inoperable case of turf toe. He suffered a sprained knee and ankle against Tampa in the playoffs. When the injury happened I thought he was done for the day. Not only did he continue playing, he never missed a beat, throwing the key block on a fourth and goal touchdown run from the one, breaking a 10-10 tie.

Ragnow’s PFF grade of 88.8 is the best of all interior lineman. Ragnow is under contract for the next three years and I wasn’t sure if he’d be back for 2024, but he’s going to play through the painful toe injury for another year. 

#1 Penei Sewell

Somehow Sewell was still the board at #7 in the 2021 draft and his selection was a no brainer. He is the best lineman in the league, the best player on the team, and he is only 23 years old. His 92.8 PFF grade confirms this and his 95.1 run blocking grade was the third best since 2006. He only allowed one sack and 25 pressures in twenty games. Sewell was selected as a first team All-Pro after his spectacular 2023 season. He can do it all. His agility and athleticism make him a terror on open field blocks.

He’s the best tackle in the business and the best player on the team. He has one year left on his current contract and the Lions will take advantage of his fifth year option. No doubt Holmes will be working on an extension for the top tackle in the NFL.

Main Image: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

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