Great Barrier Reiff: Lions Draft Their Tackle

>> 4.27.2012

Detroit Lions selected Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff with their 2012 first-round pick.

The Detroit Lions did not trade their first-round pick, as I said they must. They stood pat and took mighty Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, brilliantly named the “Great Barrier Reiff” by Lions Tweeter @crino22.

I said the Lions must trade their first-round pick for two reasons: 1) the players who could provide an immediate upgrade to the starting lineup would come off the board well before No. 23, and 2) the Lions would have quite a few decent options at 23, and therefore should try to trade back.

I wasn’t wrong about 1). Reiff addresses what I thought was the Lions’ most pressing need: a backup for, and heir apparent to, Jeff Backus. He’ll also have the opportunity to back up, push and/or supplant either Stephen Peterman or Gosder Cherilus until his time at left tackle comes. But Reiff doesn’t make the Lions’ starting 22 any better.

Depth and youth and the future are critically important. I pushed for the Lions to draft tackle Nate Solder last season, for this very reason; the Lions couldn’t afford to wait until Backus was irrevocably broken to search for his replacement. But we must understand taking Reiff at this spot means a team trying to win the Super Bowl this season passed up their last, best opportunity to make this season’s team better.

What I was wrong about was 2). It simply did not occur to me that Riley Reiff and David DeCastro would both be sitting there for the Lions at No. 23. I thought both of them would go in the 10-20 range, and closer to 10 than 20. With either of those players on the board, let alone both, trading down would not have been the right move. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report and New Era Scouting had Reiff and DeCastro as his 13th- and 6th-rated prospects, and Miller graded the Lions’ pick of Reiff as an A+.

What has been the fans' reaction? This was the scene at the Lions' official draft party at the Fillmore Theatre:

Appreciation for a pick well picked; excitement for a bright future. Not unbridled exultation, as when the Lions drafted Ndamukong Suh. Not the dawning of a glorious new era in Lions football. Just a good football player who addresses a great need coming at a fantastic value spot.

Now, the second and third rounds: Draftsmas Eve all over again. Will the Lions trade up? Trade back? Stand pat? Draft one of the risky corners? All the same questions, ready to be answered again. Tonight is the last chance the Lions have to add impact talent to this season’s roster without giving something up . . . will they take it?


RIP,  April 27, 2012 at 2:14 PM  

Interersting and great pick by the Lions in choosing Reilly Reiff. Reiff is vesatile while also looking like a Jeff Backus clone. And they both got choosen about the same spot in the draft. One thing Backus did not have was versatillity. He has been a starting LT since before joining Michigan. Backus, even with his age and experience, is probably the best LT on this years team.

So where does he play if indeed Backus is the best we have?

The way I see it is Backus is probably the best OL on the team. Cherilus with his long arms is only a Tackle, and the coaching staff stated as much last year. Peterman is the most balanced interior lineman for them, that is if one of his wheels is not slowing down. Riola may have difficultly with larger DT, but he does call a good game. And then from the starters is Sims. He is a very good pass blocker, but is not good at run blocking. If the DT is not slanting on a running play, he most liking not opening a running lane.

So where does Reiff play this year? If Cherilus can keep his mistakes to two or less per game, he may keep his starting spot, same with Peterman if he stays healthy. If Backus heals quickly from his surgury, he is the LT, and Riola is the starter again at center. So if all these things are met, then is best chance would be at LG. I do have to keep in mind that Peterman was a Cowboy cast off, and Sims a Seatle cast off for the reasons previously mentioned.

What Reiff gives us is versatility if one of the pieces in thier game needs to be fixed.

Another piece to the equation is the Lions are still high on Jason Fox as a tackle.

RIP,  April 27, 2012 at 2:46 PM  

I love the pick of Reilly Reiff. He adds versality and youth the group.

Some interesting things about him his has about the same measurables and drafted about the same spot as Backus.

So is the starting LT for this year's team? I believe not if Backus heals quickly from his surgery. Backus was a solid tackle for us is was probalbly our best lineman last year. Also Backus has not been given a chance to show the public if his vesatile for he has only played LT the last 19 years or so.

Last years group was not bad. Cherilus played very good after coming off microfracture surgery. With is long arms, he is only a tackle. The coaching staff stated as much last year. If he can keep is mistakes down to two or less, he should be the RT.

Peterman is the most balanced interior lineman, that is if one of his wheels is not hurting. With is past injuries, knee, foot, and ankle, health is an issue with him.

Riola still calls a very good game and is the starting C this year.

The weaest link for a balanced attack is probably Sims. He is a very good pass blocker, but that is his greatest asset. If the DT in front of him is not slanting, the result is usually a near stalemate.

We also have to remember that Peterman (injury) and Sims (run blocking) were cast offs from the Cowboys and Seahawks.

So as a group, if injury and consistency is not an issue, I see Reiff as a LG if we are to improve.

Also Jason Fox, who was a 4 year starter at tackle in college, still has high expectaions from the Lions.

JD,  April 27, 2012 at 4:14 PM  

Having looked at most of Matt Miller's NFL player ratings, I'm not sure he's the ideal g0-to source for draft grades.

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