Detroit Lions 53 Man Roster Projection

July 29, 2022

For The First Time In A Long Time, The Detroit Lions Have Some Tough Roster Cut Decisions

Training Camp is underway for the Detroit Lions and Honolulu Blue is once again flooding into their Allen Park facility. The HBO Hard Knocks coverage team was reportedly equivalent in size to all of the Lion’s beat writers and press on-site for the first day of training camp, meaning there will be no hiding from the scrutiny of little mistakes and overhype of big plays.

I’ve been consuming as much Lion’s offseason content as I can this summer, and I’m ready to release my first ever projection of the Lion’s opening day roster against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 11th. Let’s get to it!

Quarterbacks (3)

  • Jared Goff
  • Tim Boyle
  • David Blough

This coaching staff seems to trust Boyle and Blough more than the fan base. Boyle has had some consistency issues in practices and didn’t really inspire much confidence in his three starts last year, but he has the experience and a working relationship with Goff and the coaching staff. Blough reportedly had some input in some play design for the last few games and the staff and Goff probably appreciate his voice and opinion in the film room. Blough is very much on the bubble though, as they could elect to keep more useful on-field depth elsewhere.

Running Backs (5)

  • D’Andre Swift
  • Jamaal Williams
  • Craig Reynolds
  • Jermar Jefferson
  • Jason Cabinda

Reynolds and Jefferson are really the only question marks for this group, and I believe they both showed enough throughout last season to take the next step and keep continuity within this group. Godwin Igwebuike made the team and had a role last year, mostly on special teams. Jermar will likely have to show he can contribute on special teams to take that roster spot away from him. Reynolds was the preseason darling last season and ended up having solid performances against Denver and Arizona during the regular season when Swift was injured.

Wide Receivers (6)

  • DJ Chark
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown
  • Josh Reynolds
  • Quintez Cephus
  • Trinity Benson
  • Kalif Raymond
  • Jameson Williams (projecting to be on the PUP list/IR to start the season)

This is the position group I am looking forward to following most throughout training camp and preseason. There may only be one spot for Cephus and Benson, but both have been impressing early on. Kalif Raymond signed a two-year deal worth $9.5 million, else I’d strongly consider putting him on the bubble as well. He is probably safe due to the new contract and strong contributions on special teams as a returner. When Jameson Williams comes back, they will have another tough decision to make, but for now, I think they keep this position deep, giving them plenty of options to move guys around.

Tight End (3)

  • T.J. Hockenson
  • Brock Wright
  • Nolan Givan
  • James Mitchell (projecting to be on the PUP list/IR to start the season)

Probably one of the first major surprises in this projection, giving a roster spot to undrafted free agent Nolan Givan. This is highly speculative and based on the third tight end’s value coming from primarily blocking ability. Givan is 6’3, 260 lbs, making him considerably heftier than the other competitors for this spot. As much as I’d like to give the edge to former Wolverine Devin Funchess, I just don’t think he’s a fit here. I’m not sold that Brock Wright is locked in at the number two spot either, but he filled in serviceably at times last season when called upon. Rookie James Mitchell will hopefully take over the 2nd or 3rd spot when he returns.

Offensive Line (8)

  • Taylor Decker
  • Jonah Jackson
  • Frank Ragnow
  • Halapoulivaati Vaitai
  • Penei Sewell
  • Evan Brown
  • Tommy Kraemer
  • Matt Nelson

The top six in this list are locks since Evan Brown can play reserve Guard and Center. Kraemer and Nelson have some work to do to beat out Logan Stenberg and Dan Skipper especially, but I’m giving them the edge for now. This is the Lion’s most solid position group up top, but an injury or two will force guys into the lineup that probably can’t handle going up against any elite defensive lineman in the NFL.

Defensive Line (10)

  • Aidan Hutchinson
  • Alim McNeill
  • Michael Brockers
  • Charles Harris
  • Jashon Cornell
  • Levi Onwuzurike
  • Julian Okwara
  • Josh Paschal
  • Bruce Hector
  • James Houston
  • Romeo Okwara (projecting to be on the PUP list/IR to start the season)

Romeo Okwara’s injury situation seems ambiguous so I thought I’d lean towards him not starting the season healthy. This is also a pretty inspiring group compared to prior years. I’m intrigued by how the rotation shakes out and the different formations they implement and use this season to rush the passer with the improved talent. Most of these guys have some positional versatility, which is highly valued by this coaching staff.

Linebackers (5)

  • Chris Board
  • Alex Anzalone
  • Derrick Barnes
  • Malcolm Rodriguez
  • Jarrad Davis

This is the only position group that I cringed at when looking at the current options and depth. My hope is that they keep this group thin and only have one or two linebackers on the field at a time. This will allow the more talented football players on the roster at defensive line and defensive back to make up for the deficiency at this position. I think Jarrad Davis can be used in specific game situations on defense and on special teams. Malcolm Rodriguez will be counted on to step in right away and Derrick Barnes needs to make improvements in his play recognition for this group to make a positive impact.

Defensive Back (10)

  • Jeff Okudah
  • DeShon Elliot
  • Tracy Walker
  • Amani Oruwariye
  • Mike Hughes
  • Will Harris
  • Kerby Joseph
  • Ifeatu Meifonwu
  • C.J. Moore
  • Chase Lucas
  • Jerry Jacobs (projecting to be on the PUP list/IR to start the season)

All signs are pointing toward Jeff Okudah having a chance to start the season, and you can’t help but root for him! DeShon Elliot will hopefully be a major improvement as the starting safety beside Tracy Walker. I have Chase Lucas sneaking his way on the roster until Jerry Jacobs returns from his injury.

Special Teams (3)

  • Jack Fox
  • Riley Patterson
  • Scott Daly

The Riley Patterson versus Austin Seibert kicking battle could go on all throughout training camp and preseason. They may also bring in additional competitors as they did last year. I’m giving the edge to Patterson who went 13/14 in his Field Goal attempts last season as well as 16/16 in Extra Point kicks. He’s only 22, so he could be the long-term answer at the Kicker position, although distance is a concern for either guy.