Lions Camp: Early Bird Roster Prediction

Lions' insider Mike Mady projects Detroit's final roster based on his observations from Lions camp.

ALLEN PARK -- There is still a lot of football -- along with 90 players -- left before the season starts. I know that.

Still, I believe I’ve seen enough while attending Lions' camp to make a very early prediction on the roster, which I will adjust periodically throughout the preseason.

Below is my initial prediction of the Lions 53-man final roster. I am fully confident that much will change between now and the beginning of September but – as it stands now – here is what I believe the team will look like when the regular season kicks off.

Quarterback – 3

Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill, Kellen Moore

The only player in question here is Moore, as he battles with R.J. Archer for the final spot. When I first watched Moore, I was thrown off by his lack of arm strength but the more I watch him the more I believe the third spot is already his.

He moves well, will look off defenders and has a knack for delivering a catchable, perfectly placed ball to an open receiver.

Running Back - 4

Jahvid BestMikel LeshoureKevin Smith, Stefan Logan

This group will obviously be impacted by Best’s ability to return. I’m still of the belief – and I may be in the minority here – that Best will not start the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

If Best does start the season the PUP list, this opens the door for Keiland Williams and Joique Bell.

I also included Logan with this group. Last season, Logan spent time with the receivers before moving over to the running backs in practice. The move corresponded with the Lions rash of injuries at the position and it never truly seemed as if Logan was going to get a legitimate shot in the backfield.

This year, Logan has taken many reps at running back and occasionally finds himself running with the number ones on offense. I believe his versatility will help him make the roster, although his job isn’t 100 percent secure.

Wide Receivers – 5

Calvin JohnsonNate BurlesonTitus YoungRyan BroylesMaurice Stovall

I’m not sure if the Lions will keep five or six receivers but I believe Patrick Edwards has shown enough to earn strong consideration if they opt for six.

The first four are locks and I believe Stovall offers too much (size, hands and special team contributions) to pass on. If the other hopefuls – such as Edwards, Lance Long and Terrence Toliver – are going to get a chance the Lions will need to keep six receivers.

How the hopefuls perform in the preseason will go a long way. I know my eyes will be glued on Edwards when he’s on the field.

Tight Ends - 3

Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, Will Heller

This trio represents one of the team's areas of strength.

Pettigrew is the Lions go-to option when the running game sputters as well as can aid the running game as he is an effective blocker.

Scheffler offers a solid red-zone target and receiving threat.

Heller is an outstanding blocker, who can also play some fullback.

Offensive Tackle – 5

Jeff BackusGosder CherilusRiley ReiffCorey HilliardJason Fox

The first four are almost guaranteed and all have looked the part in camp. Fox has also looked solid but his inability to stay healthy in the past has plagued him.

The versatility that Reiff and Hilliard possess, being able to play guard or tackle, enables the team to keep five tackles.

Guard – 3

Rob SimsStephen PetermanDylan Gandy

No surprises here, except for perhaps the small number.

Sims and Peterman figure to start and Gandy offers depth as well as the ability to play backup center.

Again, the Lions have some versatility at tackle and if the injury bug were to strike, they could slide over Reiff or Hilliard.

Center – 1

Dominic Raiola

Raiola will return as the starting center and – if injured – the Lions will look to Gandy.

Defensive Tackle – 5

Ndamukong Suh, Corey WilliamsNick Fairley, Sammie Hill, Andre Fluellen

The only debate here is whether or not the Lions decide to keep five defensive tackles. After some deliberation, I believe they will, as there is so much value on the position within the scheme and Fluellen may simply be too good of a player to cut.

Defensive End – 4

Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff AvrilLawrence JacksonWillie Young

The surprise here is no Ronnell Lewis.

The Lions used a fourth-round pick on Lewis in this year’s draft, so I’m probably going against the grain with this one.

I don’t know that Lewis has shown enough to earn a roster spot as a rookie and – unlike in 2010 with Willie Young – I don’t believe the team has the room to keep him on the roster for potential alone.

I am not confident about this one and will need to see a few preseason games before I say that I am. Also, if the Lions do decide to keep an extra defensive end, Lewis will not be guaranteed the spot, as Everette Brown is making a push of his own.

Linebackers - 7

Stephen TullochDeAndre LevyJustin Durant, Ashlee Palmer, Doug HogueTravis LewisTahir Whitehead

The Lions have a lot of promising prospects as depth in the linebacker corps and I don’t see them letting any of it go.

All of the Lions reserves at this position can help serve roles on special teams, increasing the likelihood that they all make the team.

Cornerback – 6

Chris HoustonAlphonso SmithJacob Lacey, Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood, Jonte Green

This group will be an interesting one to watch.

Houston, Lacey and Bentley are locks. The Lions drafted Green and Greenwood with the understanding that they are developmental picks, so I can’t imagine they’d let them go. However, Greenwood remains on the PUP list and I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays there.

Justin Miller will also push for a spot due to his strong special teams ability.

Safety – 4

Louis Delmas, Amari Spievey, Erik ColemanJohn Wendling

The first three are locks. Wendling is such a valuable special team player that I can’t see him not making the team. Don Carey would be the next in line if I had to put a fifth, with young Ricardo Silva also pushing for a spot.

Kicker – 1

Jason Hanson - Lock to make the team.

Punter – 1

Ryan Donahue - From what I’ve seen, I believe Donahue will beat out Ben Graham for the job. 

Long Snapper – 1

Don Muhlbach - The Lions will return their long-time long snapper.

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