The Case for the Lions' Offensive Line Being Best in NFL in 2021

Do the Detroit Lions have the best offensive line in the NFL?

The Lions are certainly taking a serious approach to building up their offensive line. 

They selected Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell on Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft, and then followed that up by making Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow the richest player at his position on Thursday. 

These two moves by Detroit's front office, led by first-year general manager Brad Holmes, put the team's offensive line in a good position to succeed -- and at a high level -- in 2021. 

Sewell, who opted out of playing in 2020, comes into the Motor City as a potential generational talent at the tackle position. 

He finished as the top-graded offensive lineman in the nation and in Pro Football Focus history, with an overall mark of 95.5, during his sophomore campaign in 2019. For his efforts, he became the first sophomore offensive lineman to win the Outland Trophy, which is awarded each year to the nation's best interior lineman.  

Additionally, he allowed just one sack over 1,376 snaps in two seasons at Oregon. 


As for Ragnow, he'll be entering his fourth NFL season -- all spent with the Lions -- in '21. 

The 2018 first-round pick has become one of the league's best centers since starting at the position on a full-time basis for the first time in '19. 

In fact, two seasons ago, Ragnow permitted just two sacks on 996 offensive snaps, and earned a 74.9 grade from Pro Football Focus -- ranking sixth among 38 qualified centers. 

Then, a season ago, Ragnow failed to allow a sack in 929 snaps, and only had three penalties called against him -- good for a PFF grade of 80.3. 

"Frank plays the game the right way and he has dedicated himself to improving his craft each season. We are ecstatic to come to this agreement and to have Frank as a leader on our team for years to come." general manager Brad Holmes said in a statement.

This all goes without mentioning the solid play of left tackle Taylor Decker and then-rookie offensive guard Jonah Jackson last year. 

Decker cashed in on a contract extension before the start of last season, and proceeded to put together a fine statistical campaign. 

The 6-foot-7, 318-pounder ranked 12th overall and seventh in pass protection among all tackles in 2020, per PFF. The Ohio State product also allowed just two sacks and 29 pressures on 1,066 snaps. 

Sewell, Ragnow, Decker and Jackson are all in the primes of their careers, and could be building blocks on the O-line for Detroit for years to come. 

While not a building block like the names mentioned above, fourth-year pro Tyrell Crosby also proved to be a solid presence on the line a year ago, starting the majority of the season in the place of the injured and disappointing Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right tackle. 

With the addition of Sewell and the team's key O-linemen from 2020 returning, the Lions have at least a chance of possessing the best offensive line in the NFL in 2021.