Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Hilliard has his work cut out for him this offseason.
The Detroit Lions' offensive line had been the model of consistency for many years, and depending on who you ask, that was either a very good thing or a very bad thing.
Despite having consistent personnel, the line was frequently criticized. As a unit, they were victims of their own solid, but unspectacular, play. Nothing special stood out about any one player. For that reason, their negative attributes got all the attention.
That brings us to today. The Lions' model of consistency was blown up by free agency and retirement, leaving fans feeling anxious.
This is what everyone wanted, so why all the apprehension?
Perhaps, because the players pegged to replace the departed are so unproven—particularly Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard.
Suddenly, old reliable Jeff Backus doesn't sound so bad.
Hilliard is a five-year veteran who started five games for Detroit in 2010 and 2011, but didn't appear in a single game last year. Fox is a three-year vet, but he's only appeared in five games, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Nevertheless, one of these guys will be the starting right tackle for the Lions this year.
Despite their relative inexperience, the competition will be hot. They're both hungry and have a lot to prove. Fox needs to show he can stay healthy and that the Lions made the right decision by keeping him around.
He's also fighting for his future. The Lions signed him to a one-year deal this offseason, and if he doesn't win the starting job, it's hard to believe they'd re-sign him next year.
Hilliard has a little more security, a two-year deal, but just as much to prove. At least Fox has been injured. Hilliard went from spot starter to the invisible man. He needs to prove he still has what it takes to start in the NFL.
Right tackle isn't exactly a sexy position, but this should be a fun competition to watch. My money is on Fox, as long he's healthy.