Lions draft preview: OT bookend for Reiff could make sense

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Brandon Scherff

This is the first in a series of Lions position previews for the NFL draft. Today: Offensive tackles.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay called the No. 23 pick "the sweet spot for offensive linemen" in the 2015 draft.

And that's good news for the Lions, who are hoping to upgrade their offensive line after a 2014 season in which they ranked 28th in rushing and Matthew Stafford took a career-high 45 sacks.

The Lions have hosted a couple of this year's top offensive tackle prospects on pre-draft visits, and after considering taking one in the first round the last two years, this could be the year they add a bookend.

"This team's got to get better personnel up front," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said Monday. "And I like Riley Reiff; I like him at left tackle. If you were able to get somebody that could afford him the luxury of maybe moving over to the other side, that would help as well. I just think you've got to start investing some capital here in the offensive line."

The Lions have yet to make a significant upgrade on the line, and drafting a left tackle while moving Reiff to the right side could make two positions better, even if Reiff has been solid in his two years as a starter.

Besides Reiff, the Lions have LaAdrian Waddle, Cornelius Lucas and Michael Williams on the roster. An undrafted free agent in 2013, Waddle has started 18 games the last two years at right tackle, but his status for the start of the year is in question as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in his left knee in December.

Lucas played in 15 games and started three, two at right tackle and one at left, in 2014 as an undrafted rookie. He might get a shot at left tackle this offseason regardless of when the Lions draft a tackle because that's his better position.

A seventh-round pick in 2013, Williams made the transition to tackle last year, but spent the entire season on the practice squad.

Looking at the top tackle options, most analysts agree there's no obvious pecking order. Some players like Stanford's Andrus Peat and Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings could be high picks based on potential, while others like Iowa's Brandon Scherff and Miami's Ereck Flowers looked better on tape.

"I like D.J. Humphries as my top offensive tackle," Jeremiah said. "Other people might have him as the fourth or fifth guy. There's just a lot of variance with the way people feel about these players this year."

Go through the gallery above or go here for Josh Katzenstein's top 10 offensive tackles the Lions could consider in the draft.