The Detroit Lions went into the 2014 NFL Draft looking for a potential replacement for veteran center Dominic Raiola down-the-road, and Martin Mayhew came out of the draft with the third-best center prospect in Arkansas Razorbacks product Travis Swanson. They used the 76th overall pick on him, bypassing concerns regarding his athletic ability after a very poor performance at the combine. I’m sure they would ideally like to have him play at center once Raiola retires, but there’s a chance he could move to guard in the pros or be a versatile utility backup on the interior of the offensive line.
According to MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke, Swanson stated that the Lions used him at guard and center during rookie minicamp, and it’s not surprising to see that the Lions are already trying him out at both positions. By testing his versatility on the line, the Lions will have a better understanding of his skills and a better idea of how their young offensive linemen fit into the group that has been carried over from last season.
It’s pretty clear that the Lions know exactly what they are doing when it comes to identifying top talent on the line, as they had two of the best rookie OLs in the NFL last season. LaAdrian Waddle looks like a franchise tackle after being a sleeper in undrafted free agency, and Larry Warford was one of the best five rookies in the NFL last season. Could a guy like Swanson or UDFA tackle Cornelius Lucas be next for the Lions? We’ll know more as beat writers feed us information during the offseason, but it’s doubtful that those two receive the kind of playing time rookie starters Warford and Waddle earned last year.