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Reiff's versatility valuable in Lions' draft

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Riley Reiff's versatility was brought up in a press conference Thursday when Detroit Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew was discussing next week's NFL Draft.

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Reiff, a Parkston native who was the 23rd overall selection in last year's draft, can play four positions on the line, the team's GM said.

Because Reiff can be successful at moving around, the Lions -- who finished 4-12 last year -- have different options when their turn to pick at No. 5 overall comes up in the first round Thursday night.

"He allows you flexibility to draft a guard or draft a tackle, to draft whatever you want to draft and let him fill in somewhere else," Mayhew said. "So we think he has the ability to play left tackle, the ability to play guard for us, right guard and he can play right tackle for us. He can play a lot of different spots, which really helps us in terms of having some flexibility in this draft."

Reiff is listed as a 6-foot-6, 313-pound tackle on the Lions' official website. In one article by Tim Twentyman, lead writer for detroitlions.com, Reiff is called the eventual replacement for now-retired starting left tackle Jeff Backus.

But several other media outlets have reported the team is considering moving the soon-to-be second-year pro to right tackle or even a guard spot.

The Lions are in the midst of revamping their offensive line that has been intact for the past three seasons.

Three of the five members of last year's regular starting line are gone, including Backus, a 12-year pro who Reiff started for on Thanksgiving Day.

That was one of eight starts Reiff got in his rookie season, mainly as an extra blocking tight end.

Now with the fifth overall selection in the draft, the Lions could bulk up their line right away, and the best player available may be a left tackle, a position that has three highly-touted prospects who will likely go early. They are Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Oklahoma's Lane Johnson.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz told The Detroit News the possibility of Reiff moving positions will not hurt his development.

"He's in a little bit of limbo, but we're not practicing right now," Schwartz said in late March. "It's not like he's being set back. It's not like we're spinning our wheels with him playing defensive line or anything like that. All of our guys are just training and conditioning on their own.

"There is no setback. We cross-trained him at a lot of positions last year."

The Detroit News suggested that once the draft is concluded, Reiff will likely learn where the team will move him.

"There's a lot to be seen," Mayhew said in the article. "(Reiff) can play four positions. Obviously, we're still acquiring players, whether through free agency or the draft, or any other trade possibilities. A lot of things out there are in motion. Because he can play four spots, he's sort of that moving piece at this point."

Also Thursday, the NFL schedule was released, with Reiff likely to get the start in his second year as a pro in Week 1, when the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings at noon on Sept. 8 in Detroit. It will be the second time in franchise history the Lions will host the Vikings on opening day.

2013-14 NFL Schedules

Detroit Lions

Sep. 8 Minnesota noon.

Sep. 15 at Arizona 3:05 p.m.

Sep. 22 at Washington noon.

Sep. 29 Chicago noon.

Oct. 6 at Green Bay noon.

Oct. 13 at Cleveland noon.

Oct. 20 Cincinnati noon.

Oct. 27 Dallas noon.

Nov. 3 BYE

Nov. 10 at Chicago noon.

Nov. 17 at Pittsburgh noon.

Nov. 24 Tampa Bay noon.

Nov. 28 Green Bay 11:30 a.m.

Dec. 8 at Philadelphia noon.

Dec. 16 Baltimore 7:40 p.m.

Dec. 22 N.Y. Giants 3:05 p.m.

Dec. 29 at Minnesota noon.

Minnesota Vikings

Sep. 8 at Detroit noon.

Sep. 15 at Chicago noon.

Sep. 22 Cleveland noon.

Sep. 29 Pittsburgh (London) noon.

Oct. 6 BYE

Oct. 13 Carolina noon.

Oct. 21 at N.Y. Giants 7:40 p.m.

Oct. 27 Green Bay 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 at Dallas noon.

Nov. 7 Washington 7:25 p.m.

Nov. 17 at Seattle 3:25 p.m.

Nov. 24 at Green Bay noon.

Dec. 1 Chicago noon.

Dec. 8 at Baltimore noon.

Dec. 15 Philadelphia noon.

Dec. 22 at Cincinnati noon.

Dec. 29 Detroit noon.

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