With the 23rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the Detroit Lions select Iowa Offensive Tackle Riley Reiff.
I'd have to really dig, but I think most pundits have been assuming the Lions would take a left tackle in the draft in the first round for almost a decade, most definitely for the past few years, and the Lions never did. When the Lions re-signed Jeff Backus this year to a 2 year contract many thought they might go in a different direction this year... so surprise! They take who they say they had ranked as the 2nd best tackle in the draft (and I believe them). Neither the Lions nor I expected Reiff to be there at 23 and drafting an offensive tackle isn't the sexy pick that a cornerback, defensive end, or even a running back would've been... but adding talent is what the draft is all about and the Lions now have added talent to the offensive line corp.
But what kind of talent is he? Unless you watched Iowa play for the past few years or live in South Dakota and visited him at his farm you probably don't know any more then I did and thus you get your information from the internet and television. As I have found out, that's all well and good, but the various sources aren't exactly saying the same things. Heck, one source posted the measurables from his pro day and the combine and the measurements of the dudes hands and arms, height and weight are all different. Now I can understand a persons weight changing over a couple of weeks time, but I thought only OJ Simpson could change his hand size at will (sorry, had to throw that in there for some reason). If the measurables aren't even the same what do you suppose the rest of the immeasurables are like? Yeah, that's about it too... way different depending on who you read or listen to. One site will say he has long arms, the next will say short arms, in reality... they are at or just slightly below average (say within 3/4"). One site says he's been well coached, another says he may not take to coaching very well. Some sites were obvious that they maybe watched one or two games and wrote a player profile, while others watched multiple games and were a bit more thorough. Near as I can tell from the mess I went through, Riley Reiff is a tenacious, hard working, versatile offensive lineman who could use some NFL coaching but is also ready to start if need be. He is no stranger to the film room. He is no stranger to the weight room. He's also not afraid to play any position on the line if he's asked to. He also apparently doesn't like to be beat on a play, not at all. In other words, he is very talented if a bit raw and has an attitude to match.
When you think about it, what more could an offensive line coach ask for? Here is some highlights of his play:
And now, some links to some of the non-pay profiles I've read. This isn't all by any means, but I can't post the pdf's I've paid for or the material on the pay sites I subscribe to, perhaps you have others you have found. I wouldn't take any as gospel though, read them all and try to formulate your own thoughts from it... I think you'll find that the Lions have some quality material to work with.
Josh Norris scouting report can be read here (2nd best OT):
Now this one, which is the complete opposite of most regarding arm length and strength and such... no two sites are describing him the same... and after I read it I noticed the date posted, prior to combine by a lot:
Then there's PFW's which may be a little more accurate:
Another scouting report:
Other aspects of the pick which isn't helping fans get enthusiastic for the Lions choice is; where will he play? How does it help the team? Where is the upgrade or who is he replacing?
The answer is... they don't know yet. Oh, I'm sure they have an idea, and if it works out that way great, but until the OTA's and camps are over, they can't possibly know for sure if he'll be doing plan A, or plan B, or plan C, etc.
Riley Reiff will be tried out at both tackle positions, both guard positions, maybe even center... but I'm pretty sure the plan is to play him at tackle if he's able to handle the duties. Now, will he be pushing (or replacing) Gosder Cherilus at right tackle or just learning the left tackle position to be Jeff Backus' eventual replacement is uncertain. I assume, if he's talented enough, he could supplant Goz at RT either permanently or temporarily until Backus retires. Being that Reiff is versatile and willing to play any position he has a lot to learn, then it will be up to him to earn his roster spot. Right or Left, Tackle or Guard, Now or "Down the Road".
He has a ton of drive... sitting on the bench isn't going to be his idea of fun... so the current starters best go all out as Reiff is going to be in their rear view mirror and he'll definitely be closer then he appears.
We fans also get to do something we're not comfortable with... watching our team develop an offensive lineman. It's not sexy, it's not thrilling, but it's a very necessary evil.