Heading into the 2022 season, there is no question about it that the Detroit Lions‘ biggest strength is their offensive line. In fact, if they remain healthy, the Lions should have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL.
With Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, and Penei Sewell leading the way, along with Jonah Jackson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai playing the guard positions, the Lions' offensive line is poised to dominate in 2022.
But according to ESPN, the Lions' offensive line will not dominate at all in 2022. In fact, Seth Walder of ESPN analytics thinks the Lions will have one of the worst offensive lines in the National Football League!
ESPN throws MAJOR shade at Detroit Lions offensive line
Here is ESPN's obviously flawed criteria, along with their rationale for ranking the Lions at No. 26.
We ranked all 32 teams' lines by combining our predicted pass block win rates (PBWR) and run block win rates (RBWR) for this season, which are based on the past performance of each projected starter — according to Mike Clay — over the past two seasons. Rookie starters are assumed to be below average because that is historically what they usually are, even the first-rounders. Players who have played but only in small amounts have their previous win rates regressed toward a below-average level.
Then we averaged those pass and run block ranks with a 60/40 split favoring the passing game, based approximately on how much PBWR and RBWR correlate with a team's expected points added per play. RBWR has a higher impact on running EPA per play than PBWR does on passing EPA per play, but the passing game is more important overall. That weighted average produces our overall offensive line rankings. Let's jump in, starting with two teams with Super Bowl aspirations.
26. Detroit Lions
Predicted pass block rank: No. 26
Predicted run block rank: No. 24
After a rough start to his rookie season, Sewell's numbers improved when he moved over to right tackle. His pass block win rate jumped from 82% to 87%, and his run block win rate ticked up from 71% to 73%. Neither right tackle number is elite — they're both right around average — but perhaps it suggests what ought to be a slightly brighter forecast for his 2022 season than his numbers in aggregate might indicate.