Lions not afraid to toss Taylor Decker into the fire

Detroit Lions first-round pick Taylor Decker is getting tossed into the fire.

Decker has spent the majority of offseason workouts at left tackle, with incumbent Riley Reiff moving to the right side.

While some teams protect rookie offensive lineman from starting at left tackle in Season 1, Lions new general manager Bob Quinn isn't worried about his first pick.

"If he's the best left tackle, then I'd be happy with it," Quinn said Monday, via the Detroit Free Press. "It's going to be a competition amongst a lot of players, so Taylor's definitely right in the mix."

The Lions hope Decker wins the starting left tackle spot, so they can shift Reiff to the right side, where many scouts believe he belongs -- and could make it cheaper to retain him after the season.

Sitting rookie offensive linemen has been a tactic several teams have employed in recent years. Three of the four tackles selected in the first round in 2015 played small roles or not at all last season: Andrus Peat, New Orleans; D.J. Humphries, Arizona; Cedric Ogbuehi, Cincinnati. Only Ereck Flowers started at left tackle for the Giants. Like many rookies paying the blind side, Flowers struggled -- as have Jake Matthews, Eric Fisher, etc. in the past. Matthews proved in Year 2 that a season of seasoning does wonders.

Depending on how the offensive line shakes out in Baltimore, Decker could be the only first-round rookie in 2016 to start the season at left tackle (four were selected: Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore; Jack Conklin, Tennessee; Laremy Tunsil, Miami).

There remain questions about Decker's ability to star at left tackle. Does he have the athleticism to fend off elite edge rushers, of which he faced few in the Big Ten?

We won't have a true answer until the pads come on in training camp and Decker takes reps against opposing starters in the preseason. But the Lions aren't afraid to force their rookie to sink or swim in 2016.

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