PFF grades: Detroit Lions’ offensive line earns high marks against Atlanta Falcons

Pride of Detroit

On Sunday, we took a look at how the Detroit Lions defense scored in the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Now, we turn our attention to how Pro Football Focus graded a Lions offense that seemed to be a source for great optimism in wake of their 27-23 loss on Friday.

Let’s dive into the grades and see if the people over at PFF share those same sentiments.

Centers

Top score: Frank Ragnow (80.7)
Low score: Ryan McCollum (57.2)

It’s been 10 months since we’ve seen Ragnow suit up for the Lions after a toe injury sidelined him for the majority of 2021, but he seems to be picking up right where he left off: Ragnow’s run-blocking grade was the third-highest among the offensive line.

Guards

Top score: Halapoulivaati Vaitai (91.8)
Low score: Logan Stenberg (61.5)

Often times, Vaitai is regarded as the weak link in the Lions starting offensive line, but part of that reputation is unfairly attributed to a guy who struggled during his first season in Detroit due to a nagging foot injury. In 2021, Vaitai posted a respectable grade on offense that placed him 25th among qualifying guards who played at least 702 snaps. On Friday, Vaitai displayed the kind of road grading he’s become known for, helping clear the way for the Lions to run for an efficient 5.3 yards per carry on the opening drive.

Stenberg started this offseason by filling in with the first-team offense when Jonah Jackson was out, but his path to making the roster seems to be an uphill battle he’ll have to climb before it’s too late after a rough outing on Friday that included surrendering a quarterback hit.

Tackles

Top score: Penei Sewell (87.8)
Low score: Obinna Eze (44.6)

Sewell paced the seven (!) tackles who saw action against the Falcons, earning not only the top grade among tackles, but the highest run-blocking grade on the team (91.4). Recent addition Kendall Lamm played 42 snaps—the most among offensive linemen—and earned the third-highest pass-blocking grade (85.3).

Eze caught the cameras on “Hard Knocks” when he shared some time ice bathing with Aidan Hutchinson, but after giving up a sack in his professional preseason debut, he’ll have to continue working on his technique to improve his chances of sticking around.

Tight ends

Top score: Devin Funchess (82.1)
Low score: Derrick Deese Jr. (41.8)

No T.J. Hockenson in the preseason opener, so Wright earned a chance to show what he could do with the first-team offense. He made the most of his opportunity according to PFF, grading out as the team’s best pass blocking and run blocking tight end while hauling in an 18-yard reception to get the Lions’ first drive rolling.

Top honors among tight ends went to Funchess after he scored a touchdown and looked the part as a pass-catcher.

Wide receivers

Top score: Amon-Ra St. Brown (88.9)
Low score: Trinity Benson (51.6)

St. Brown picked up right where he left off last season, making a couple of big catches on Detroit’s opening drive and earning the top receiving grade among pass-catchers.

The big story from Friday, however, was the receiving performance of Tom Kennedy. Eight catches for 104 yards and an aDoT of 16.1 helped Kennedy earn the second-best grade among receivers and throw his hat into the ring for a spot on the 53-man roster. On the flip side of that conversation, Benson played a lot of snaps that included repping as the top kick returner, but a lackluster receiving performance couldn’t have helped his chances of making the roster.

Outside of St. Brown and Kennedy, only one Lions receiver earned a grade higher than 55.5: Kalif Raymond with an offense grade of 67.8 and a receiving grade of 69.3.

Running backs

Top score: Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson (60.7)
Low score: Jamaal Williams (53.3)

Detroit didn’t have a great showing from their running backs against Atlanta, earning just 3.3 yards per carry as a group. PFF gave top honors to Reynolds and recently added Justin Jackson, but digging deeper into the numbers, it’s encouraging to see Jermar Jefferson earning high marks for his pass blocking (83.4 on seven snaps). Proving yourself useful in that regard will certainly go a long way with running backs/assistant head coach Duce Staley.

Quarterbacks

Top score: Jared Goff (74.2)
Low score: Tim Boyle (58.1)

Goff looked as comfortable as he’s been since arriving in Detroit, and while a lot of that has to do with the line in front of him providing plenty of time to operate, he also looked poised when running through his progressions and making a nice throw on the move to St. Brown.

The story when it comes to the grades is how Blough clearly played better than Boyle in the eyes of PFF. Boyle was credited with two turnover-worthy plays—one which obviously resulted in the interception he threw—while Blough was on the end of two drops from receivers according to PFF.

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