The Detroit Lions were expected to draft an offensive lineman in the 2013 NFL Draft. This should have come as no surprise after the retirement of Jeff Backus. The team also lost Gosder Cherilus and Stephen Peterman on the offensive line.
With the pick of Ziggy Ansah, the Lions filled a need at defensive tackle. After three offensive lineman were drafted ahead of them, the Lions chose not to trade and stuck with the fifth overall pick. This also means the team will be counting on Riley Reiff to fill the void at left tackle.
Replacing Backus won’t be an easy task, as he was one of the most dependable Lions on the offensive line. Since being drafted in the 2001 NFL Draft, Backus started every game with the Lions until his streak ended last year. When Backus went down with an injury, Reiff was the man who took over at the important “Blind Side” position protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The Lions drafted Reiff with the 23rd overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Seen as the eventual replacement for Backus, Reiff brings experience to the left tackle position. Reiff spent time at left guard and right tackle before securing the starting role as left tackle at the University of Iowa. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Reiff started every game at left tackle.
Reiff was named to the All-Big Ten and All-American teams after his standout 2011 junior season. Reiff chose to skip his senior year and ended up becoming a first round pick. After being a consensus top 15 pick, Reiff fell into the Lions’ lap.
Reiff was considered a bad pick for the Lions in 2012 as many saw him being shifted over to guard. Reiff played in all 16 games last season, including 8 starts. With the opening at left tackle, Reiff will get his chance to prove why he was drafted so high.