Dan Campbell

Getty Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell.

The Detroit Lions have made some key moves in free agency, filling gaps on defense while adding to their depth on offense.

The approach could pay dividends when it comes time for the NFL Draft, with a new report suggesting the Lions may seize the opportunity to take a high-upside player who would have the luxury of easing his way into the league. The Athletic’s Colton Pouncy projected that the Lions would snag Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson, a player who has shot up draft boards after an All-American season and could be a good fit for Detroit’s offense.

Lions Building Offensive Line of the Future

Pouncy suggested that the Lions, with no glaring roster needs thanks to the diligent work of general manager Brad Holmes this offseason, could use their first-round pick to start preparing for the future. He suggested that Powers-Johnson could have the chance to develop in his rookie season and then slide into a bigger role later.

“The Lions want to keep their offensive line elite, and Powers-Johnson happened to be one of the best players available at 29,” Pouncy wrote. “With RG Kevin Zeitler on a one-year deal and Frank Ragnow’s injury history to consider, the Lions could have Powers-Johnson learn from vets as a rookie and take over as a starting guard in 2025, before eventually sliding over to center whenever Ragnow calls it quits. There’s a ton to like about his game and makeup. He fits what the Lions look for.”

The Lions had a balanced attack on offense, giving a big role to rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs and veteran David Montgomery in the running game. The team could choose to invest more in their offensive line in the draft to continue building their run game.

Bleacher Report shared some high praise for Powers-Johnson in its pre-draft analysis, calling him an “explosive and powerful” run blocker who excelled on Oregon’s run-heavy scheme. The report also noted his relative inexperience, starting only one season in college but making a big impression in his breakout season in 2023.

“Overall, Powers-Johnson is a young, inexperienced prospect who burst onto the scene this season as a first-time starter thanks to his elite blend of size, athletic ability, power and toughness that he used to dominate competition,” the report noted.

Lions Add Pro-Bowl Lineman

The Lions have already been taking steps to bolster their offensive line, signing Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zeitler to help make up for the loss of Jona Jackson, who left to sign with the Los Angeles Rams. ESPN reported that the 34-year-old Zeitler is headed to Detroit on a one-year deal.

As Dave Birkett of the Detroit News added, the Lions brought back another key player from 2023 and could be shifting around some of their pieces next season.

“The Lions re-signed Graham Glasgow, their primary starting right guard last season, at the start of free agency, but could shuffle personnel on their line in 2024,” Birkett noted. “Glasgow has the ability to play all three interior line positions. The Lions also return center Frank Ragnow and tackles Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker.”

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