The Detroit Lions continue to take measure to upgrade a troublesome offensive line, as the team reportedly swung a trade to land Greg Robinson. Formerly of the Los Angeles Rams, Robinson was once a highly touted o-line prospect out of Auburn and was made the second overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Filling a Need
Detroit recently developed an urgent need on their offensive line, when second-year left tackle Taylor Decker suffered a shoulder injury. Decker is expected to miss 4-6 months at a minimum as he rehabs the injury, which would keep him out to start the 2017 NFL season. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has suggested Decker will not miss the entire 2017 season, but it is unknown exactly how much time he will miss.
Whether Decker can return later in the year or not, the Lions knew they had to find a way to stop the bleeding. Protecting starting quarterback Matthew Stafford is among the team’s top priorities, while the offense is also hoping to establish an improved rushing attack early on this season.
The Lions recently brought in free agent offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and amplified their efforts to boost their damaged o-line with the Greg Robinson trade. While the Lions can’t be sure how well they can replace Decker or how long they’ll need the extra help, the team is clearly trying to make sure the drop-off isn’t too severe. That’s more crucial than ever, especially considering the Lions already struggled with pass protection a year ago. Stafford tied for 6th in the league after getting sacked 37 times and if the Lions want to win consistently, Robinson and/or Kouandjio will need to make up for the loss of Decker.
The story is similar on the ground, as the Lions get back star rusher Ameer Abdullah and hope to put forth a more convincing ground game after finishing 30th in the league in rushing yards per game in 2016.
Things didn’t go as planned for Robinson while with the Rams, as the first round pick was scene as a massive bust after losing his starting job two years into his rookie deal. Robinson was part of a makeshift Rams o-line that routinely struggled and was at their worst in 2016. Working as a backup to begin camp, the Rams opted to finally cut their ties with Robinson and orchestrated a trade with the Lions that sent a 6th round draft pick to L.A. to complete the deal.
From a talent and size perspective, the 24-year old Robinson could easily end up being a steal for the Lions. A playoff team with a seasoned veteran quarterback under center, Detroit will undoubtedly be an easier team to play for. Robinson has already gone public about the trade, suggesting that a change of scenery could be “refreshing“. With a chance to prove himself with his new team, Robinson could end up locking down a starting job and turning his career around.
The Lions shouldn’t see any huge movement when it comes to their win/loss, division or Super Bowl 52 odds, but this shows Detroit is serious about covering all of their bases. Robinson was a bust with the Rams – make no mistake about it – but the talent has always been there and it’s not crazy to think a young player driven to prove his critics wrong could thrive on a far better roster.
Detroit has a lot of positive pieces in place and Robinson just needs to protect Stafford and help pave running lanes for the dangerous Abdullah. He could end up fending off Kouandjio, or the two could rotate together to keep each other fresh. Once Decker returns, if Robinson pans out, the Lions would suddenly have one of the deepest and strongest offensive lines that they’ve had in years.
Everything regarding Robinson going forward is hypothetical, but if he can hold serve and keep Detroit’s o-line from turning to mush, the Lions should continue to have a chance to fight for a second straight trip to the playoffs. Detroit faded badly before a one-and-done showing during the postseason last year, though, so getting that running game going early should be a huge piece to their puzzle. If all goes well, Robinson will be part of the mix that makes it all work, as well.
Detroit understandably holds onto poor Super Bowl 52 odds (+6600) at Bovada, while they have the third best odds (+425) to win the NFC North. They had a chance at nabbing the division title last year, but unless their running game is up to snuff, they probably aren’t a great bet to be that close again. Keep an eye on how Robinson fits in and if the Lions have a more balanced offensive attack going into the preseason. If so, the Lions could heat up as a fun sleeper bet for the division.