I can still remember back to when I was 5-years-old and I came down the stairs on Christmas morning and saw my first bike sitting under the tree with a bow on it. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford must have felt the same way after watching the first-round of the 2015 NFL Draft unfold.
“Since the week before the draft, to the week after, it was like night and day,” said Stafford. “We just have so many more bodies, and so many more guys who are capable of playing well.”
Stafford was sacked 45 times in 2014, which was the most in his career. The offense in general struggled to put up points and the running game was nowhere to be found.
To blame everything on the offensive line would be naive, but it most definitely was a major factor in the Lions struggles this past season.
The first gift
The first gift was when the Lions traded down in the draft and in the process obtained offensive lineman, Manny Ramirez.
“Getting Manny in that trade was big — getting depth,” Stafford said.
Ramirez will provide some depth the offensive line did not have in 2014. The advantage to having a player like Ramirez is he can play multiple positions on the line. He will be ready to fill in at center or either guard position when called upon.
The second gift
The second gift was when the Lions drafted offensive guard Laken Tomlinson with the 28th overall pick in the draft. Tomlinson has the size and power to become a Pro Bowl type player for years to come at the guard position.
“We were obviously a little thin at the position,” Stafford said, “and to add a guy who’s got great character, played great the last two years at Duke, I was fired up.”
Tomlinson will step in at left guard and should be effective both in pass protection and as a run blocker. The rookie did not give up a single sack during his final two seasons at Duke and though that may be unrealistic at the NFL level, Tomlinson will make an impact.
There is no question Stafford needed some help on the offensive line and Martin Mayhew went out and got it for him. Now it’s time for Stafford to step up and lead the Lions to places they have not been to in a long time.