The engine of any football team lies in its offensive line. The Detroit Lions have made a three-spot leap in Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) 2023 offensive line rankings, coming in at number five. The anticipated starting lineup is a formidable front five that is projected to carry the Lions towards an NFC North Championship.
Here are the top 10 offensive lines according to PFF:
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Cleveland Browns
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Baltimore Ravens
- Detroit Lions
- Dallas Cowboys
- Atlanta Falcons
- Green Bay Packers
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Indianapolis Colts
Detroit Projected Starting Offensive Line:
PFF gave the following praise to the offensive line:
Detroit’s offensive line never ranked outside the top 10 in the rankings last season and should be notably better with a healthy interior.
Ragnow and Sewell Lead the Way
Despite Penei Sewell’s commendable PFF offensive grade of 80.6 (15th in league) and a run block grade of 83.0 (13th in league), Ragnow still managed to claim the spotlight. Coming off his second Pro Bowl season, Ragnow, who allowed just one sack in 2022, was tagged by PFF as the Lions’ best player on the offensive line.
In a recent interview, Fraley said Frank Ragnow is “getting to where he needs to be. Mentally he’s strong and there for the guys and that’s what’s great about him now.” With his 77.9 offensive grade and 78.9 run block grade, the stalwart center is an indispensable asset to the Lions’ success in 2023.
Meanwhile, the Lions face a couple of challenges on the road to the upcoming season. Ragnow will be battling an inoperable toe injury for the remainder of his career. Right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai is returning after a year-long hiatus due to back surgery, and starting left guard Jonah Jackson has his own lingering injury issues.
PFF made the following statements about the offensive line:
Detroit’s interior was a revolving door last season, with several problems along the way. The return from injury of Halapoulivaati Vaitai at guard could be huge, both literally and figuratively.
Despite these hurdles, the team’s powerful tackles, Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker, have continuously showcased their stability, playing an important role in protecting quarterback Jared Goff. Additionally, the Lions front office has added notable depth to the line with offseason signings of Graham Glasgow and Germain Ifedi. They also added Colby Sorsdal out of William and Mary via the NFL draft.
Offensive line coach Hank Fraley, an 11-year NFL veteran, has become an instrumental figure in the team’s coaching staff. Praised for his unique guidance, especially of Frank Ragnow, Fraley’s coaching skills and experience have helped mold one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
Head coach Dan Campbell emphasizes the importance of both maintaining roster strengths and integrating new players. He encourages competition and insists on every player earning their position, citing Penei Sewell as a sterling example. He shared:
Yeah well, I mean, look all of that, that’s a good thing because there again now, you’re raising the level of competition. Look, I can go back to this too – just because there’s a reason why you acquire these guys early in the Draft, because you believe that they can get it sooner than later. But they have to earn it. (Lions T Penei) Sewell earned it, (Lions DL Aidan Hutchinson) Hutch earned it and (Lions RB Jahmyr) Gibbs has got to earn his right. So does (Lions LB Jack) Campbell, he has to earn his right. And we’ve got good competition in all those rooms.
With their offensive line ranking among the league’s top five according to PFF, the Lions are prepared to continue clawing their way to the top of the NFC North.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
Tweet: @WoodwoodSports or comment on your favorite social media platform!
Photo Credit: © Kirthmon F. Dozier