Has the Riley Reiff era at left tackle begun in Detroit?

Posted by ttwentyman on March 14, 2013 – 6:09 pm

Has the Riley Reiff era at left tackle begun for the Detroit Lions?

We all figured that last’s year’s first-round draft pick was going to start somewhere along the offensive line in 2013, we just didn’t know where.

With Thursday’s announcement that longtime starting left tackle Jeff Backus has decided to retire, it’s looking more like left tackle might be the landing spot.

At the very least, Reiff is a prime candidate to compete for either vacant tackle spot with Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard.

Reiff started at left tackle on Thanksgiving last year when Backus missed his first NFL game after 187 (including playoffs) consecutive starts.

“We’re prepared for just about anything as far as turnover on the offensive line, or turnover anywhere,” Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz told the media down at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“I think that we’ve drafted on the offensive line, last year with Riley Reiff, and a couple years before that with Jason Fox. We’ve developed those guys and if we can plug them in, we’re prepared to do it. All of those guys are guys that we think a lot of and we think that they can go do the job if called upon.”

Reiff impressed enough early in his rookie year the Lions created a special jumbo package to get him on the field when he didn’t supplant Backus or Gosder Cherilus (signed with Colts in free agency) in the starting lineup.

Reiff played 329 snaps in all in 2012 and it was enough for his teammates to vote him the Mel Farr Rookie of the Year for 2012.

“Obviously we drafted Riley Reiff last year,” Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand said Thursday when asked about replacing Backus. “We’ve got Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard. We’ve got some good competition there.”

But don’t count out the possibility of the Lions adding a tackle to the roster before training camp starts, possibly via the draft if Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher are available when the Lions pick at No. 5.

“As Martin (Mayhew) has said consistently, there is no finish line when it comes to player acquisition,” Lewand said. “We have a lot of opportunity going forward to look at adding to the mix on the offensive line, both outside and inside.”

Taking a player like Joeckel or Fisher at No. 5 would allow the Lions to move Reiff to the right side at either guard or tackle and fill one of those holes with a good, young player.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 36 Comments »

Tackle Riley Reiff voted Mel Farr Rookie of the Year

Posted by ttwentyman on January 13, 2013 – 2:05 pm

The Lions selected tackle Riley Reiff with the No. 23 pick in last year’s draft and were immediately impressed by his versatility.

Impressed enough, in fact, they created a special jumbo package for him this season to get him on the field when he didn’t supplanted Jeff Backus or Gosder Cherilus as a starting tackle. Reiff did play 329 snaps as a rookie and made one start when Backus was injured on Thanksgiving, holding his own in that contest.

Reiff’s time on the field this season confirmed what the Lions thought of him on draft day – that he has a long future on their offensive line. His teammates must think the same thing, too, voting Reiff the Mel Farr Rookie of the Year.

“Our coach did a great job of finding a way to get him involved in it and getting him on the field,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said of Reiff after the season. “He showed he belonged when he was out there, so we’re excited about what he brings to the table. I suspect he’ll be a good player for us for a long time.

“He can play four spots (both tackle and guard spots). They could evolve over time, but I see him at tackle right now.”

The Mel Farr Award is presented to the team’s outstanding rookie performer. This award is given in honor of the Lions’ Mel Farr who enjoyed one of the finest rookie campaigns in team history. In that 1967 season, Farr led Detroit in both rushing (860 yards on 206 carries) and receiving (39 catches for 317 yards) and tied for the club lead in scoring with six touchdowns. As a result, he was named the Lions’ Offensive MVP and was honored as the NFL Rookie of the Year by the Sporting News.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 13 Comments »

Early look at the jersey numbers for Lions draft picks

Posted by ttwentyman on May 1, 2012 – 12:44 pm

Can’t wait to go out and buy that new Nike Riley Reiff jersey? How about representing “The Hammer” Ronnell Lewis at Ford Field next year?

Well, here’s an early look the jersey numbers for all eight of the Lions’ draft picks.

Riley Reiff #71

Ryan Broyles #84

Bill Bentley #28

Ronnell Lewis #97

Tahir Whitehead #59

Chris Greenwood #33

Jonte Green #36

Travis Lewis #50

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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 31 Comments »

NFL Films’ Greg Cosell breaks down Lions’ first three picks

Posted by ttwentyman on April 28, 2012 – 12:32 pm

NFL Films senior producer and executive producer of “NFL Matchup” Greg Cosell, who’s been at NFL Films since 1984, watches as much game tape on draft prospects as most NFL teams do.

I asked Cosell to give his opinion on the Lions’ first three picks – Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles and Louisiana Lafayette cornerback Bill Bentley.

Here’s what he had to say:

On Reiff:

“I suspect there’s been a lot of talk in Detroit about Riley Reiff vs. David DeCastro. I think Reiff is the better pick. This is a passing team. Reiff is a pass protector and DeCastro is a run blocker. Reiff is a good pick for this team. He can play right tackle immediately, I personally think he can transition to left tackle down the road.”

On Broyles:

“I love Ryan Broyles on film. Absolutely love him. What I don’t do is give prospects grades, as far as rounds. I transition guys to the league based on what I see on film and I think this is where the Lions are thinking longer term. Nate Burleson is getting up there in years and they don’t want to get stuck not having weapons for Matthew Stafford.”

These are the notes Cosell took on Broyles while watching him on tape.

  • He has natural quickness as a route runner, especially from the slot.
  • He has deceptive speed and burst as a vertical route runner.
  • He is very fluid and smooth with excellent ground control.
  • He caught the ball easily with his hands with excellent body control to snatch the ball and run.
  • Does not have top-end long speed, but that’s not a big factor in the slot.
  • Transitions best to the NFL initially as a slot receiver.

“I think he’s a kid that can contribute as a rookie. He’s going to be a slot guy to start and some people might say, ‘Hey, I’m not going to take a slot guy in round two,’ but it comes down to opinion.”

On Bentley:

“I liked Bentley on film. I think he’s an off-coverage corner. He’s what we call a cluer and keyer. He does a very good job reading the triangle (reading from the corner through the quarterback). He has similar attributes to Asante Samuel. That’s the style of corner he is.”

You can follow Cosell on twitter at @gregcosell

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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 42 Comments »

Mailman talked Reiff into being a Raiders fan growing up

Posted by ttwentyman on April 27, 2012 – 3:57 pm

Growing up in South Dakota, Riley Reiff didn’t have many options when it came to rooting for an NFL team.

Detroitlions.com columnist Mike O’Hara, who grew up for a time in South Dakota, tells me that most football fans in South Dakota are Vikings fans.

It turns out Reiff was a Raiders fan growing up, but only because he was talked into it by the mailman.

The mailman?

“The mailman was a Raiders fan and he liked to talk and he talked me into being a Raiders fan too,” Reiff said.

“He’s a character. He likes to talk. Some days, I would come home and he would be hitting golf balls while he was on (his route) – because we lived right next to the golf course – he would be hitting golf balls on the par 3 there.

“He kept on telling me about all of the old players and stuff. He’s a character.”

Reiff assured the Detroit media on Friday he is now a Lions fan.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 1 Comment »

Reiff expresses his excitement of being a Lion to his hometown paper

Posted by Chrissie Wywrot on April 27, 2012 – 3:42 pm

Newest Detroit Lion Riley Reiff told his local paper, The Daily Republic, that he was most comfortable experiencing the draft from the comfort of his own home.

Reported Luke Hagen, “Within minutes of Reiff’s selection, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz called Reiff for congratulations.

“He said ‘I’m happy that you’re a Lion,’ and I told him the same,’ Reiff said.”

Reiff also mentioned the mentoring he’s received from fellow-Iowa Hawkeye and first-round selection Chad Greenway and how fitting it is that he’s already driving a Ford F-150.

“‘I just put new tires on it,’ (he said) with a chuckle.”

Fans can read more from this story on The Daily Republic.

Posted in DetroitLions.com Blog | 5 Comments »

Grandfather holds on to see Riley drafted to Lions

Posted by ttwentyman on April 27, 2012 – 3:15 pm

Great little side story about Riley Reiff and his grandfather Lloyd Reiff from last night.

Lloyd is 92 years old and is suffering from cancer. He’s in a wheelchair, is on oxygen and doesn’t have long to live, according to Tom Reiff, Riley’s father.

“His goal was just to make it (to see the draft) because he’s kind of day-by-day,” Tom Reiff said.

Lloyd was able to see Riley drafted last night and that’s part of the reason Riley wanted to stay behind in South Dakota instead of joining other draft prospects in New York.

When Riley’s name was announced, he and Lloyd were able to share a very special handshake that Riley says he’ll remember for the rest of his life.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 12 Comments »

Lions bolster OL with Iowa T Riley Reiff with No. 23 pick

Posted by ttwentyman on April 26, 2012 – 11:02 pm

The Lions have bolstered their offensive line by taking Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff.

Reiff becomes the first tackle the Lions have taken in the first round since Gosder Cherilus (No. 17 overall) in 2008.

“He’s one of the two guys we felt really comfortable with at left tackle,” said Lions general manager Martin Mayhew.

Reiff started 37-of-39 games at Iowa – 29 at left offensive tackle, seven at left guard and one at right tackle. Reiff recorded 38 touchdown-resulting blocks and 264 knock-downs.

Reiff can come in right away and compete for either tackle spot and looks to be the eventual replacement for Lions starting left tackle Jeff Backus, who is on the tail-end of the career.

Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 6 Comments »