By all appearances, the Detroit Lions will move on this offseason without starting right tackle Gosder Cherilus, who is headed for free agency. Even with this vacancy, the Lions could be ready to throw in the towel on 2012 first-round pick Riley Reiff as an NFL tackle.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Lions are considering moving Reiff to guard only a year after taking the Iowa alumnus with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Throughout his rookie season, Reiff struggled to make an impact for the Lions offensive line, starting in only eight games while serving as a part-timer. Although he proved in his limited snaps that he’s a capable, NFL-caliber run blocker, his pass blocking never warranted consistent snaps. The majority of snaps came on the goal-line as a sixth offensive lineman, a bad sign for a first-round pick who was once considered a top-ten talent.
His short arms and lack of athleticism were apparent in his first campaign, which could both be big factors in his potential move to guard. Still, there are at least some within the organization that are holding out hope he can contribute as a tackle.
“He can play four spots,” Lions GM Martin Mayhew said at the end of the 2012 season. “He could evolve over time, but I see him at tackle right now.
Despite Mayhew’s vote of confidence, it appears that Reiff is not in any position to fill the void at right tackle heading into 2013. Unless he improves significantly in the next few months, don’t be surprised to see the “bust” labels floating around Motor City by the time the regular season rolls around.