The Detroit Lions don’t seem to have much luck with their offensive line. Just as we think they might have put together a great unit that will help them get back to the playoffs and get beyond the Wildcard round, they get hit by some major issues. Guard, T.J. Lang has been brought in from their division rival Green Bay Packers but has had off-season hip surgery and so has been missing from the early mini-camp activities. He has been working out to get back to full fitness ready for full training camp but time will tell on that one.

Another of the big blows to the offensive line unit is the injury to 2016 first round selection, OT Taylor Decker. He has suffered a shoulder injury and has had to have surgery on it and should be out for 4-6 months. This will probably mean he will miss a good chunk of the regular season. Decker was slated as being the Lions’ starting LT for years to come and still will be but for him to miss a large chunk of the regular season could seriously dent the team’s push for the playoffs. He is one of only two players to not miss a snap during the 2016 season for the Lions with the other being QB Matt Stafford.

According to the PFF boys, Taylor Decker is currently ranked as the 23rd best OT in the NFL and excelled in both the pass and running games. He gained an overall rating of 82.4 off 1089 snaps in 2016 and will be missed by the Lions at left tackle.

Taylor Decker Detroit Lions

Taylor Decker will be missed at Left Tackle by the Detroit Lions in 2017 season – Image credit: Jeff Haynes / Associted Press

Reinforcements

In an attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Lions have made a couple of moves, roster-wise. One of those moves was to do a trade with the 2017 NFL London-bound LA Rams. The player they have brought in to compete for the now vacant LT spot is the former 2nd overall pick, Greg Robinson.

Robinson’s career has not lived up to the expectations of his 2nd overall pick as he just doesn’t seem to have been able to compete with the big boys. I personally think he’s one of those kids who’s become an instant millionaire, after signing his $21 million, 4-year contract with nearly $14 million as a signing bonus, and then hasn’t pushed himself to be better as he’s financially set for life.

Referring back to the PFF rankings, as I like to do, Robinson is ranked as only the 71st offensive tackle with a pretty rubbish overall rating of just 38.0. Believe it or not, that’s actually an improvement on his appalling 2015 overall grade of 35.9 out of 100.

It’s safe to say that Greg Robinson has failed completely to live up to his hype coming out of the college game in 2014 and the Rams decided it was time to get something in return for him instead of letting him leave as a free agent at the end of the 2017 season after they decided not to pick up the option of his 5th year contract. They managed to only get a 2018 6th round pick from the Lions in return for him, but that’s better than nothing.

During the start of the free agency period, the LA Rams managed to pick up one of the best left tackles in the game when they signed veteran Cincinnati Bengal, Andrew Whitworth. He is ranked as 2nd best overall at the position by PFF and the best pass-blocking tackle around. He is exactly what the Rams need to let QB Jared Goff improve and live up to his 1st overall draft selection in 2016. Because of this acquisition, the trading of Greg Robinson is not of major importance to the Rams.

My thoughts on the trade

The first thing I’d say about the trade is that I didn’t see it coming, that’s for sure. I imagined the LA Rams would move him inside to the Guard position or even to the Right Tackle position to see how he got on there. I get the impression the Rams are happy to go with Whitworth at LT and former 2nd round pick Rob Havenstein at RT. Havenstein was drafted as a Guard but I think he’s their best player at RT and he’s started there for the team, with good success, in the past. I also think they’ll go with Jamon Brown and Roger Saffold at the Guard positions and the veteran, John Sullivan at Center.

As for who came out better off in this trade is still to be determined. There’s always the chance that the Lions might be able to get something out of Robinson that the Rams failed to. I mean, surely he’s got some talent locked away somewhere considering where he was taken in the draft, right? It wasn’t just the Rams who rated him that highly, I remember some people saying he might even get picked 1st overall which would have meant him being taken before the freak that is Jadaveon Clowney!

I think it’s a mutual benefit thing (as all trades are, really) as the Lions are desperate to keep pushing for the playoffs and so are willing to take the risk-reward gamble on Robinson whereas the Rams just wanted to be shut of him after 3 years of giving him the chance to prove them right by taking him so high in the draft.

I think the Rams have done ok with what they got for him and I think the Lions have got themselves a player who might improve in their system and become a decent replacement whilst Taylor Decker rehabs. Once Decker is back in the lineup, the Lions could have a good backup on their roster in Robinson. That obviously would depend on the type of salary he would expect after the 2017 season.

All this is speculation on my part because, if Greg Robinson carries on playing in the big league the way he has been, he probably won’t even make the final 53-man roster! I say this because the Detriot Lions have signed another OT to compete for that vacant LT spot. They brought in free agent, Cyrus Kouandjio who is another former high draft pick.

Kouandjio was selected by the Buffalo Bills with their 2014 second round pick – 44th overall. This guy’s issues seem to be with injuries. In his short career, he has missed games due to an ankle injury and has also suffered a hip injury after a fall at home at the beginning of 2017. The injury was severe enough to require surgery but he has recovered in time to compete at training camp.

Kouandjio is another player who has a lot of potential and could be a great player but things just haven’t worked out thus far. In my opinion, he is another no risk experiment for the Lions. He actually rates well in the PFF Tackle rankings at 34th overall with a 76.7 grade. This is only slightly less than the player I believe will start at RT for the Rams, Rob Havenstein and is actually better than Atlanta’s Jake Matthews and Kansas City’s Eric Fisher, who are both touted as good calibre OT’s.

Cyrus Kouandjio Detroit Lions

Cyrus Kouandjio has been brought in to compete for the vacant LT job with Greg Robinson – Image credit: Harry Scull Jr / Buffalo News

What do you think?

So, what do you think about this trade? Which team do you think came out of it best off and do you think it’s a good thing for Greg Robinson to have a change of scenery?

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.