LIONS INSIDER

Quinn revamped Lions' offensive line in two offseasons

Posted Mar 14, 2017

It's clear by Bob Quinn's actions that rebuilding the offensive line was a priority for him as general manager.

Bob Quinn has made it very clear through his actions over the last 14 months that reshaping and retooling Detroit’s offensive line was a top priority after taking over as Lions general manager.

When he began running Detroit’s football operations last January, the Lions had just completed a disapointing 7-9 season with a win over the Chicago Bears Week 17. In that game, Detroit’s starting offensive line consisted of Riley Reiff, Laken Tomlinson, Manny Ramirez, Larry Warford and Michael Ola. Of those names, only Tomlinson remains on the roster, and he’s likely going to have to fight for a spot in training camp.

The seeds of change upfront were planted in Quinn’s first draft. He selected Taylor Decker in the first round, Graham Glasgow in the third and Joe Dahl in the fifth.

Decker played every snap as a rookie, and made the Pro Football Writers all-rookie team. Glasgow started 11 games between center and guard, and is a good candidate to start this year at left guard. Quinn said at the Combine he’s “excited” about the progress Dahl made as a rookie coming from a pass-happy scheme at Washington State to the more-balanced NFL.

“You win football games in the trenches and you’ve got to have big, strong, tough, durable, versatile guys in there,” Quinn said after Day 2 of the draft last year.

Fast forward one offseason and Quinn attacked free agency with that same philosophy of continuing to bolster what he obviously perceived as a weakness in 2016. The Lions ranked 30th running the football last season, and quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked 37 times. Over the last three seasons, Stafford's been sacked 126 times.

So, Quinn went out and signed two of the top offensive linemen on the free-agent market in right tackle Rick Wagner and right guard T.J. Lang.

Wagner, 27, has started 45 games for Baltimore the last three seasons and allowed just two sacks all of last season.

Lang, 29, was a Pro Bowler in Green Bay in 2016 and didn’t allow a single sack or quarterback hit.

Wagner and Lang are also upgrades in the run blocking department, and check off all those boxes Quinn said he liked in offensive linemen during the draft last season. They bring toughness and experience to a unit ripe with youthful talent. On paper, it looks to be a very strong group, collectively, with good depth.

Center Travis Swanson was having the best season of his young career in 2016 before a concussion prematurely ended his season. He’s been cleared to return to football activities, and there’s reason to believe he can pick up where he left off before the injury.

It seems likely that Decker, who was Detroit’s best offensive lineman last season, Glasgow and Dahl can all improve in 2017 with a year under their belts, and a true offseason to prepare.

Lang spoke to a number of his new teammates Sunday after signing with the Lions. He left those conversations with a simple message.

"The last thing I relayed to them all was I really feel like we can form one of the best units in the league, with all the talent we have," Lang said.

The talent has been assembled. It’s now up to the players and coaches to put it together on the field.

In just a little over a year, Quinn has completely restructured Detroit’s offensive line, and in doing so, has given his team a much better chance for success moving forward.