About the Author
Recent posts by Eric Edholm
The Lions have several options with the No. 13 pick in the draft, but offensive line has to be squarely among the top needs. Although last season's unit had its high points, there are concerns with injury and age. OLT Jeff Backus, who has started 160 consecutive games, turns 34 near the start of next season. C Dominic Raiola, who turns 33 at the end of next season, has been very durable but taken a lot of wear and tear over his 10 NFL seasons.
Another concern might be at right tackle. Head coach Jim Schwartz called starter Gosder Cherilus the Lions' "most improved offensive player" but admitted that injuries are something that are an issue.
"Injuries have been a concern for him," Schwartz said. "He's had some things that have set him back along the way."
Cherilus earned the starting job prior to last season, and Schwartz noted that Cherilus "stepped out and earned it every single day." That and putting behind him some of the inconsistencies of his first two seasons was a crucial reason why he retained his spot. Now, staying healthy is crucial to him staying on the field as the starter.
"I think that he showed enough and had enough success that we feel like he was on the right track and there's good things to come from him," Schwartz said.
Still, sources say the Lions have kicked a lot of offensive linemen's tires, both at the Senior Bowl and in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine. It would be no surprise if the Lions look hard in that direction with their top pick in April's draft.