Uh oh. Well shit. The Lions starting left tackle and first round pick from 2016 injured his shoulder in OTAs and had shoulder surgery on June 5th. Decker has three months to recover until the season starts but may miss some of the early 2017 season. Decker could go on PUP and miss six weeks or hopefully be healthy in three months and start Week 1 on September 10th.
Detroit has some in-house option in Joe Dahl (2016 5th round pick), Corey Robinson (2014 7th round pick) and Cornelius Lucas. Lucas has started a few games at LT in 2014 when Riley Reiff was hurt. Dahl played left tackle in college but was making the transition to left guard for the Lions these past two seasons. Dahl graded really well in pass protection in Mike Leach’s crazy pass-happy system at Washington State.
Robinson has some experience at right tackle filling in for Reiff in 2017 but is oft-injured himself since 2014. The Lions and Caldwell said they would not move Rick Wagner from right to left tackle. TJ Lang has LT experience but is much better at right guard. Lang is recovering from hip surgery as well.
Dahl seems to be the best option even though Lucas has experience. Dahl was working with the top unit after Deckers’ injury last week.
King Dunlap is experienced as a long time starter for the Chargers at left tackle. Dunlap had a below average grade in 2016 with the Chargers but has had decent seasons. Dunlap is a legit option for the Lions if Decker is going to be put on PUP. Dunlap earned a 60.4 grade playing 775 snaps for the Chargers in 2016. Dunlap struggled in 2015 as well but had really good grades in 2013 and 2014.
Ryan Clady is another option. Clady was good for the Broncos through the 2012 season but very oft-injured but struggled with the Jets in 2016. Clady only played 537 snaps for the Jets in 2016 and struggled with a 47.2 grade and missed all of the 2015 season. Clady was below average in 2014.
Dunlap appears to be the better solution over Clady.
Detroit was dealt a blow with the Decker injury but has time on their side right now and some in-house and free agent options at left tackle. Backus was hurt in 2011 and was supposed to miss early in the season but recovered by Week 1 for a playoff year in Detroit. Time will tell what happens with Decker in 2017.