The Detroit Lions needed to upgrade at offensive tackle and selected Iowa tackle Riley Reiff to fill that role.
The Lions drafted Reiff with the 23rd pick in the first round in tonight’s NFL draft. Reiff, a 6-foot-5, 313-pound South Dakota native, became the sixth first-round draft pick in the Kirk Ferentz era.
Reiff started 34 consecutive games at Iowa, including the last 26 at left tackle. He was named first-team all-Big Ten last year and a first-team All-American by Pro Football Weekly. Reiff had started at 29 games at left tackle, seven games at left guard and one game at right tackle for Iowa.
For the third straight season Iowa had a first-round draft pick. In 2010, the Green Bay Packers picked tackle Bryan Bulaga with the 23rd pick in the first round. Last year Tampa Bay selected defensive end Adrian Clayborn with the 20th selection.
Iowa’s previous first-round picks under Ferentz include tight end Dallas Clark (2003), tackle Robert Gallery (2004) and linebacker Chad Greenway (2006).
Reiff is the 19th first-round pick in Iowa history. He’s the 43rd draft pick under Ferentz.
The Lions needed to get younger at offensive tackle. Starting left tackle Jeff Backus is entering his 12th season with the Lions. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus was a first-round pick in 2008.
“I tell you right now Jeff Backus is 35 years old and coming off elbow surgery,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “They need help on the offensive line.
“(Reiff) can play right or left tackle. I think he should start on the right side.”
“This is the oldest offensive line in football and I think this kid could be a very good right tackle and challenge Cherlius, who has struggled,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said.
The Lions have two former Hawkeyes on their roster. In 2010, former Iowa cornerback Amari Spievey was selected in the third round. He now plays safety. Punter Ryan Donahue signed with Detroit as a free agent last year.
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