n obvious area of need for the Lions is the offensive line, where injuries and poor play became the downfall of Joe Lombardi’s offense last season. Center Dominic Raiola’s days in Detroit are done, and he will be replaced by Travis Swanson, a draft pick by the Lions in 2014. But more concerning are the recent injury problems to tackles LaAdrian Waddle and Corey Hilliard. The biggest surprise and story line in the 2013 season was the potent play of the young offensive line, but even with the improvement of tackle Riley Rieff, others like Waddle and Hilliard took a step back. Here are a few possible candidates for the Lions at offensive tackle.
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh:
Clemmings has been projected to go as early as pick eight, but with the combine and a lot of time left for analysis before the draft, he could very well fall to pick twenty-three. However, his wide frame allow for him to take out edge rushers, while his footwork, quick hands, and athleticism are must-have characteristics of an NFL tackle. With great footwork and quick hands combined with width in his frame, he can determine will defenders will go when they line up across from his, making him a threat to both run and pass-rushing defensive ends.
Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami:
In the months leading in to the draft, there will few other offensive tackles more analyzed than Flowers. This is because he is simply a risky pick, with the potential to become a great tackle at the next level. His balance and aggression help with his fight against pass rushers, but his slowness needs to be developed in order to stop speedy defensive ends. Flowers has all the skills to make a starting lineup, but he must continue to produce and learn to develop them.
Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State:
Erving has pretty much made himself successful. He’s played on both the offensive side and defensive side of the ball throughout his career. And this year, he also switched between center and tackle, depending on where the Seminoles needed him. This means the Erving has a special gift in versatility and is extremely athletic. But don’t let this make you think that he’s not aggressive or powerful as well. The Florida State alum uses his power and aggressiveness to attack edge rushers while holding up blitzes and bull rushes too.