The Detroit Lions will be without their starting left tackle for at least three weeks.
The #Lions are placing star LT Taylor Decker on Injured Reserve after finger surgery, source said. He should be back after a month or so. But big loss initially.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 11, 2021
Detroit’s top option to replace Decker is 2021 seventh-overall draft pick Penei Sewell, who said Friday that he spent most of the week at left tackle after beginning the summer as the Lions’ prospective starting right tackle. Sewell played on the left side in college at Oregon.
Based on comments made by tight end T.J. Hockenson on Thursday, Matt Nelson, a college defensive lineman at Iowa who converted to offensive tackle in the pros, could be the top option to fill in for Sewell at right tackle.
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Losing Decker hurts Detroit in pass protection: Decker had the fourth-highest pass-block grade among tackles (min. 200 snaps) last year. He was only beaten 1v1 11 times last year on 692 pass pro snaps. Click here to find PFF's NFL premium stats.
Sewell is a better fit at LT: Sewell played RT in the preseason, producing a 38.6 PFF grade, but he will play LT with Decker injured, where he boasted a 95.7 grade at Oregon in 2019. Click here to find PFF's NFL player grades.
Fade all Lions WRs: Taylor is coming off career highs in overall grade (82.0) and pass-blocking grade (85.8). Without blindside protection, do not expect check-down king Jared Goff to throw much downfield. Click here to find PFF's 2021 fantasy projections.
View De'Andre Swift as an RB2, sit Jamaal Williams: Because Goff will be forced to get the ball out quick, Swift should see plenty of targets. However, losing a stout blocker in the run game will make life hard on Williams to find success rushing the ball versus PFF's ninth-ranked defensive line. Click here to find PFF's OL/DL matchup chart.
Lions a betting market disaster: Detroit isn't favored to win a single game throughout their 17-game schedule. Decker going on injured reserve drops the Lions offensive line's ranking and, in turn, their outlook in the betting market. When the average lineman all else being equal counts 0.42 points to the point spread, it's concerning when your top lineman causes Sewell, who didn't look great in preseason action, to shift back to the left side. Fade Detroit in the betting market, which starts Week 1. Take the 49ers (7.5-point favorites), or tease them down to -1.5 spread. PFF's Betting Futures Tool reveals betting opportunities within season win total and future markets.