Detroit Lions offensive line could go in many directions

Considering options for the offensive line of the Detroit Lions in the future

There are several possible paths for the offensive line of the Detroit Lions in the future. Let’s examine a few choices.
Although the Detroit Lions offensive line is locked in for the 2024 campaign, certain adjustments are unavoidable. The Lions seem prepared for it, having selected three offensive lineman in the last two rounds, all of whom have the potential to be starters.

The Lions offensive line might go in a number of different routes in the future, though, given the wide range of options for both the senior players and the youth movement.

Let’s examine the possibilities in more detail.

Let’s start by listing the players that the Lions currently have.

Note: I am not including any UDFA signings, as they are not official and unlikely a part of the Lions’ future OL plans. 2024 Draft picks—while not officially signed yet—are presumed to eventually sign a four-year deal.

Lions current offensive linemen (final year of contract)

LT: Taylor Decker (2024)
LG: Graham Glasgow (2025)
C: Frank Ragnow (2026)
RG: Kevin Zeitler (2024)
RT: Penei Sewell (2029)

Reserves:

  • G/T Giovanni Manu (2027)
  • G Christian Mahogany (2027)
  • G/T Colby Sorsdal (2026)
  • G Kayode Awosika (2024)
  • T Dan Skipper (2024)
  • G Netane Muti (2024)
  • G Matt Farniok (2024)
  • G/C Michael Niese (2024)
  • OT Connor Galvin (2024)

What does Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker’s future hold?
What the Lions have planned for left tackle Taylor Decker is unknown at this time. Decker stated that they had casual talks about an extension a month ago, nothing too serious. This year, he will turn 31. He just had ankle, foot, and surgery, but he is still playing at a respectable level. Decker didn’t allow a sack in 13 of the 18 games he started (postseason included), and his 79.4 PFF pass blocking grade was good for 12th in the NFL—better than Penei Sewell’s 79.2). The Lions offensive line won’t see many changes in the immediate future if Detroit decides to extend Decker, but with Ragnow and Sewell now receiving salaries close to the top of their respective markets, Detroit may want to go with a cheaper option here

Then there’s the case of Frank Ragnow. Though he’s under contract for three more seasons, many have understandably wondered if his time in the NFL is numbered thanks to a nagging toe injury that has limited Ragnow for the last three seasons. The injury is apparently inoperable, and while Ragnow’s love for the game is inarguable—remember he played through a fractured throat—he’s only human. At some point, the physical damage will be too much for him.

Three developmental options

In the past two drafts, the Lions have taken three offensive linemen who, in my opinion, all have starter upside. Let’s break down each:

Colby Sorsdal — 2023 fifth-round pick

From William & Mary, Sorsdal was always going to be a project at the NFL level, and the Lions knew that going in. That said, offensive line experts saw a ton of potential in Sorsdal, believing him to be a future starter. Though he played only tackle in college, the Lions used his rookie season to develop him as a guard, working both the left and right sides. He actually earned starts at both positions in 2024, but don’t forget about his tackle versatility. He filled in for half of a game at right tackle last year after Decker and Skipper were injured and Sewell moved to the left.

Giovanni Manu — 2024 fourth-round pick

Although he’s coming from University of British Columbia, the Lions clearly have high hopes for the kid, seeing as they used a 2025 third-round pick to draft him. Manu played left tackle in college, but he’s already told the media that the Lions view him at a right guard.

“I think their vision is they want me playing right guard next to Penei Sewell,” Manu said after being drafted.

No pun intended, but that’s a tall task for a 6-foot-8, 350 pound player. Is it possible they just want him working on the right side for an eventual move to right tackle?

Christian Mahogany — 2024 sixth-round pick

Mahogany is likely the most pro-ready of the three options, having played D-1 college football at a high level. It remains to be seen where exactly he’d fit in, though. In his last two seasons with Boston College, he played right guard, but in 2020 he was at left guard.

Mahogany was considered a Day 2 prospect, but injury concerns appear to have knocked him down several teams’ boards. The Lions were willing to take that risk late in the draft, and it could pay off with a starter.

2025

Let’s look at the future of the offensive line, because change is undoubtedly coming. At the very least, it seems unlikely that 34-year-old Kevin Zeitler will be around beyond his 2024 season. Sure, it’s possible the Lions re-sign Zeitler to another short-term deal, but with their investments in these young linemen, let’s just assume they will not.

The ‘minimal change’ options

LT: Taylor Decker
LG: Graham Glasgow
C: Frank Ragnow
RG: Giovanni Manu
RT: Penei Sewell

In this case, the Lions re-sign Decker and Ragnow decides to keep playing. If the Lions backload Decker’s deal, this wouldn’t be as expensive of an option as it looks. Only Ragnow’s cap hit would be above $10 million for the season.

The question would be: who wins out the right guard job? It could literally be any of the young guns. I only put Manu in that spot because the Lions devoted the most draft capital to him, and they seem to have a very specific vision of him playing next to Sewell.

The ‘changing of the guard’ option

LT: Penei Sewell
LG: Colby Sorsdal
C: Graham Glasgow
RG: Christian Mahogany
RT: Giovanni Manu

This would be the most chaotic option, with all five starting spots shifting from the previous year. With Ragnow and Decker theoretically gone, the Lions would have to move Sewell and Glasgow to replace them. Both players are capable of making that switch, but the ripple effect would mean relying on all three young players to step in.

While this would certainly be a risky option, it would also be—by far—the most affordable. Utilizing three players on rookie contracts—and still in the “cheap” years of Sewell’s deal—this would afford Detroit the opportunity to spend elsewhere.

The ‘middle-ground’ option

LT: Penei Sewell
LG: Graham Glasgow
C: Frank Ragnow
RG: Christian Mahogany
RT: Giovanni Manu

or

LT: Taylor Decker
LG: Colby Sorsdal
C: Graham Glasgow
RG: Giovanni Manu
RT: Penei Sewell

In both of these cases, the Lions would have to make changes at a minimum of two spots. If Detroit loses Decker, it will likely require a change in both tackle spots, plus the replacement of Zeitler at right guard. If Detroit loses Ragnow (and Zeitler), it requires a complete reshifting of the interior offensive line. While I don’t have Mahogany in the lineup on the second option, you could interchange him at either guard spot. I am simply defaulting to the players with the more significant draft investment.

2026 and beyond

While Glasgow and Ragnow are technically under contract for the 2026 season, it’s worth wondering if either player will still be around two years from now. Glasgow’s contract has a pretty clear out in his deal where Detroit could create over $5.5 million in cap space, and Ragnow obviously has injury questions. Let’s examine a future without both.

That presents one pretty big problem: who will be the Lions’ future center?

There is no clear answer, but here’s the good news: the Lions have two more offseasons to figure it out. Detroit did bring in several undrafted rookie center options, but it would be an extremely optimistic outlook to believe one will develop into a starter in three years.

The other pressing question is: what are the Lions’ plans at tackle?

We know Sewell will be around forever, but will he eventually make the move to left tackle, or will he remain a fixture on the right side? There is less and less of a distinction between the two sides, so it’s quite possible Detroit opts to keep him on the right side. But with no clear option after Decker on the left, it also wouldn’t be surprising in the least for Sewell to move to the blind side.

Do the Lions have their other future tackle on the roster already? Will Manu assume those duties despite the team’s short-term vision being at guard? Will Sorsdal move back to tackle now that they have interior options in Manu and Mahogany?

It’s hard to say, but here are a few options for the future of the Lions’ offensive line:

LT: Penei Sewell
LG: Colby Sorsdal
C: FUTURE PICK/SIGNING
RG: Christian Mahogany
RT: Giovanni Manu

LT: Penei Sewell
LG: Christian Mahogany
C: FUTURE PICK/SIGNING
RG: Giovanni Manu
RT: Colby Sorsdal

LT: Colby Sorsdal
LG: Christian Mahogany
C: FUTURE PICK/SIGNING
RG: Giovanni Manu
RT: Penei Sewell

There isn’t an option that I particularly love. I like the idea of keeping Manu and Sewell side-by-side, but it feels like we’re a long ways from being okay with Sorsdal as the future left tackle. I’m a little more comfortable with Sewell and Manu as the bookend tackles but if Manu’s future is at tackle, it seems odd to start him at guard.

The good news is that the Lions do not now need to have all the answers. The Lions may use this season to determine the ideal spots for these young players because they are locked in for 2024. Manu can be tried for guard and tackle. They can play around with the notion of repositioning Sorsdal to face off. They might decide in 2025 or 2026 to draft additional players after realizing that a few of these players won’t develop into starters.

Nevertheless, for the next several years, the Lions offensive line is probably going to see some significant changes, and they’ll have to make some intriguing choices.

 

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