The Detroit Lions have traded former first-round selection Laken Tomlinson to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round pick. Tomlinson was taken 28th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by Detroit, the seventh offensive lineman selected, and has started 24 games for the Lions over the past two years. After the Duke alumni lost his starting spot at left guard to rookie Graham Glasgow halfway through last season, the Lions decided to move on.
Lions Trade Laken Tomlinson to 49ers for Fifth-Round Pick
Tomlinson was a standout for the Duke Blue Devils in college. He was named a consensus All-American in 2014 before being awarded the Anthony J. McKevlin Award as the ACC Athlete of the Year in 2015. He was one of the best offensive line prospects entering the 2015 draft and was snagged by Detroit to help rebuild a run game that placed 28th in the NFL the season prior.
The Lions ground game, however, did not improve at all, ranking dead last during Tomlinson’s rookie year. Even after Detroit selected left tackle Taylor Decker in the 2016 draft, the team only moved up to 30th in rushing yards per game.
With Tomlinson gone, Glasgow will be the undisputed starter at left guard as Detroit prepares for their regular season opener against the Arizona Cardinals on September 10. The 2016 third-round pick out of Michigan started in 11 games for the Lions last year at both guard and center.
Tomlinson, meanwhile, looks to compete for a starting job in his new home of San Francisco. With projected starter Joshua Garnett still recovering from a knee injury, the incoming 25-year-old fills a hole in the offensive line that developed into a huge concern during the 49ers preseason.
While being moved on from so early in his career is sad considering Tomlinson’s first round upside, it had to be done – he wasn’t panning out in Detroit. Hopefully, though, his career will get back on track out west in a new system and new environment. In the meantime, the Lions better make the most out of a 2019 fifth-round selection.