The Detroit Lions added veteran offensive lineman Germain Ifedi to the den on Tuesday. It’s a move that adds more experience and versatility to a Lions line that has five strong starters but some serious questions behind them.
What are the Lions getting in Ifedi?
The 28-year-old was a first-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks back in 2016. Ifedi now joins his fourth NFL team in five seasons hoping to extend a career that has been trending in the wrong direction since a couple of nice early campaigns with the Seahawks. Ifedi’s heyday came as Seattle’s starting right tackle back in 2017-2019.
Ifedi played for the Falcons in 2022 but saw just four reps as an actual offensive lineman, all at left tackle. That came after two seasons in Chicago, where he worked at both right guard and right tackle with varying degrees of success. He also played both guard and tackle in Seattle.
Ifedi’s wide base stance is his signature. He uses it to make his 6-foot-5, 325-pound frame even bigger. It might be the widest foot spread in the league. It helps him at tackle to set up against outside pass rushes. It also attempts to mitigate a decided lack of flexibility and natural knee bend from Ifedi.
The lack of relative bend and athleticism is readily apparent if you watch Ifedi for even a couple of offensive possessions. His lateral movement is below average, and he leans or lunges into contact, hoping to use his broad size to get the job done. It does work at tackle to some extent; Ifedi is a high-effort player who looks good when he wins the initial combat, and his ability to churn his feet and drive block once engaged is impressive.
Defenders with even token quickness or explosive get-offs at the snap have been a problem for Ifedi going back to his college days at Texas A&M. It’s why teams have tried him at guard instead of tackle, which is where his natural skills and length are better fits. His wide base and sluggish shoulders make recovering from an initial loss a real problem for Ifedi.
For Detroit, Ifedi appears to project best as insurance for starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has similar (but lesser) weaknesses. Vaitai is coming off a season missed due to a back injury. Ifedi could also take over the swing reserve tackle role from Matt Nelson, who is a lot more effective as an extra OL than an actual tackle. A smart guy and good leader, Ifedi could also have a role in grooming fifth-round rookie Colby Sorsdal, a college tackle who might move to guard in the NFL too.
Story originally appeared on Lions Wire