Just to be clear, the possibility of the Lions drafting a left tackle with the No. 5 selection Thursday is not in any way a knock on tackle Riley Reiff, the team's first-round pick last year. "The reason why Riley had so much value to us at (pick) 23 is because he can play four spots," general manager Martin Mayhew said last week. "He allows you flexibility to draft a guard or draft a tackle, to draft whatever you want to draft and let him fill in somewhere else. "So we think he has the ability to play left tackle, the ability to play guard for us, right guard, and he can play right tackle for us." That said, the Lions, like many other teams, believe there are three offensive tackles at the top of this draft that not only project to start immediately, but make Pro Bowl impacts. If Reiff would have had a similar projection coming out of Iowa in 2012, he never would have made it to No. 23. If Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel or Oklahoma's Lane Johnson are on the board at No. 5, the Lions would be hard-pressed not to call their name. "Lane Johnson is the kind of guy that has to be in the discussion even at No. 5 for Detroit," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. "He's right there with Joeckel and Fisher. It's really a three-way battle to see who is going to be the first tackle taken." The Lions made it clear soon after last season that change was coming to an offensive line that started 46 of 48 games the last three seasons. "You've got to change," Mayhew said in December. "This is a young man's game." Veteran guard Stephen Peterman was released and left tackle Jeff Backus retired. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus, a free agent not pursued by the Lions, signed with the Colts. Center Dominic Raiola will be back for his 13th season, but at a reduced salary (veteran's minimum) and with no guarantee he will remain a starter. "We're prepared for just about anything as far as turnover on the offensive line," coach Jim Schwartz said. "I think that we've drafted on the offensive line, last year with Riley Reiff, and a couple years before that with Jason Fox. "We've developed those guys and if we can plug them in, we're prepared to do it."
Lions think big at No. 5
Detroit News | Apr 24