The Detroit Lions' offensive line has the potential to be one of the top tier units in the entire National Football League.
Frank Ragnow is now the highest-paid center in the league. Taylor Decker has cemented his role as one of the league's most consistent left tackles. Jonah Jackson is expected to take another step forward, after a productive rookie campaign. And, first-round pick Penei Sewell will likely transition to play right tackle his first season in the league.
Meanwhile, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, a free-agent acquisition of the Lions last offseason, struggled mightily to stay on the field his first season in Motown.
When called upon last season, Tyrell Crosby demonstrated he could be a reliable option at right tackle.
Crosby stepped in, and he only allowed five sacks on 390 pass blocks during his 11 starts in 2020. He ranked 54th out of 79 tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Lions would likely prefer to keep Crosby as a swing tackle for insurance purposes, as he has demonstrated the ability to play both tackle and guard positions.
The 25-year-old's versatility also makes him a potential trade target for teams looking to add productive players or to fill a need along their offensive line.
Here are three reasons why the Lions should keep Crosby on their roster in 2021.
Crosby embodies the type of player head coach Dan Campbell is looking for
When Campbell spoke at his introductory press conference, he intended to speak to the roster about the expectations and intentions to change the culture.
Players like Crosby, who have been forced to compete for every snap, will make Campbell's efforts easier.
"We’re going to try to play the best five," Detroit offensive line coach Hank Fraley explained to reporters. "And to say who’s the starters, all you guys right now are saying Penei, Decker, all those. They all know they’ve got to come in and compete. We can say all this: Crosby’s a great -- he can be a great piece to the puzzle for us and he’s seen it. You guys have seen it. He’s proved it. Last year, unfortunately, he had to miss the last couple games of the year, but he was playing pretty good. And, the guy’s a competitor. He’s always had to compete for everything. Went to Oregon and competed. He got here and competed. And that’s all I’m looking forward to ... is him coming in and competing."
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Depth along the offensive line
Winning organizations tend to stockpile quality backups who can start when needed.
Now that the Lions clearly have a quality backup, it may not be the proper time to jettison him off to another franchise.
Recall, Vaitai dealt with a myriad of injuries in 2020. And, Sewell may experience some growing pains, if he is asked to move to right tackle full time.
Mentor for Sewell
Despite Sewell being a player who could jeopardize Crosby's position on Detroit's roster, their friendship means more than any kind of loss of status on a team's roster.
“For me, I took that moment as like -- football is finite to me, but like, friendships can last forever, and he’s (Sewell) a great friend of mine. So, I wasn’t even thinking anything football related,” Crosby told reporters when he reported for mandatory minicamp.
Even though the writing is on the wall, if Crosby somehow remains on the roster, the lessons he could teach a young player would be invaluable.
“Seeing him when he got drafted, I was probably one of the happiest people on Earth,” Crosby said. “Because that was my friend who got drafted, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
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