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Projecting Lions 53-Man Roster

With 2 sets of roster cuts looming, the Lions will purge down to 53 players from their current 90-man roster in less than a week. Let's take examine how that final roster might look.

In less than a week the Detroit Lions will trim their roster from its current count of 90 down to 53 in two sets of moves (first to 75, then to 53).

With three preseason games in the books, the Lions final roster is taking shape.  Jobs are still on the line and those jostling for position may be able to separate themselves with a week of practice and a final game ahead.  Still, baring injuries, the picture is becoming clearer.

Here are my projections for the Lions opening-day squad.

Quarterback – 3

  • Matthew Stafford

  • Dan Orlovsky

  • Kellen More

Notable – The Lions seemed intent on giving Moore an opportunity to win the starting Job but Orlovsky seems to be the safer choice to backup Stafford.  After getting a healthy 35 snaps in the Lions’ preseason opener, Moore has only ran 18 offensive plays for the Lions in the last two games.  It’s apparent that Orlovsky is the winner of their competition and the true question here is; will the Lions consider only carrying two quarterbacks into the season?  I can envision a scenario where the Lions cut Moore but ultimately think they will play it safe and keep the third quarterback.  Although, the season will likely be lost if Stafford misses significant time.

Running Back – 5

  • Joique Bell

  • Ameer Abdullah

  • Theo Riddick

  • Michael Burton

  • Zach Zenner

Notable – I have Zenner edging out George Winn based on the fact that the undrafted rookie has showed so well running the football.  This is the only pick here that is still in the air, however.  The Lions need their fourth running back (as well as fullback Michael Burton) to contribute on special teams and that’s something Winn has more experience with.  The Lions likely will opt to keep Zenner because of his upside rather than try to stash him on the practice squad but this will be a tough decision to make unless the Lions believe there isn’t a real fall off from a special-teams perspective.

Wide Receiver – 5

  • Calvin Johnson

  • Golden Tate

  • Corey Fuller

  • Lance Moore

  • TJ Jones

Notable – This is the toughest position to pick for me and I ultimately bumped the likes of Jeremy Ross, Ryan Broyles and Greg Salas for Jones.  The battle for the receiver jobs was billed as one of camps most intriguing areas but it has been underwhelming, which is what makes this so difficult.  The safest pick here would be Ross.  He has looked better the last two weeks catching all the targets thrown his way (six passes) and has been decent in the return game.  However, he has done little to separate himself from the group and I wonder if the Lions will move on (although I’m far from certain they will).  Salas is intriguing because he brings experience but his inability to contribute in the return game make him a logical cut here.  Broyles is a hard cut to forecast simply because he’s the type of player you want to see succeed but he simply hasn’t shown he is better than those he is competing against.  Jones gets the nod because he has some upside and has shown he can contribute in the return game, giving him a potential role outside of receiver depth. 

Tight End – 3

  • Eric Ebron

  • Brandon Pettigrew

  • Joseph Fauria

Notable – No surprises here.

Offensive Line – 9

  • Riley Reiff

  • Laken Tomlinson

  • Travis Swanson

  • Larry Warford

  • LaAdrian Waddle

  • Cornelius Lucas

  • Corey Robinson

  • Manny Ramirez

  • Taylor Boggs

Notable – When the Lions traded Michael Williams to the New England Patriots, things got a little less interesting here.  Boggs isn’t a lock to make the team but he has played a lot in the preseason and showed he can be serviceable, he’s also gelled in the locker room.  Keeping him around with Warford currently injuried and a rookie penciled in to start would be a wise move.  Robinson hasn’t done much to show he could contribute this year but the Lions invested a draft pick in him and he’s really the only other option for depth at tackle unless the Lions want to go to recently-converted defensive tackle Xavier Proctor.

Defensive Line – 10

  • Ziggy Ansah

  • Haloti Ngata

  • Jason Jones

  • Darryl Tapp

  • Devin Taylor

  • Caruan Reid

  • Tyrunn Walker

  • Gabe Wright

  • Phillip Hunt

  • Jeremelle Cudjo

Notable – A few months ago, it would have been difficult to leave Larry Webster off of this list but the second-year defensive end has simply looked lost.  Phillip Hunt, who played in the CFL last year, has shown he can be disruptive with his compact frame and has registered hits and hurries in each of his three preseason appearances despite failing to register a sack.  Jeremelle Cudjo makes it to supply depth on the interior, as the Lions may opt to keep ten defensive lineman with Ngata and Reid still out and Jason Jones’ injury history.

Linebacker – 6

  • DeAndre Levy

  • Stephen Tulloch

  • Tahir Whitehead

  • Kyle Van Noy

  • Josh Bynes

  • Travis Lewis

Notable – No real surprises here.  There isn’t a player on the roster that would compel the Lions to keep a seventh linebacker (Julian Stanford would be the next guy up if they did).  It is also hard to imagine the Lions carrying less than six ‘backers, especially considering that Lewis is a strong special teams contributor and Bynes can play on defense if needed.  It doesn’t appear like Van Noy will head to IR.

Defensive back – 9

  • Daruis Slay

  • Rashean Mathis

  • Glover Quin

  • James Iheigbo

  • Josh Wilson

  • Nevin Lawson

  • Alex Carter

  • Isa Abdul-Quddus

  • Don Carey

Notable – The most notable cut here is Quandre Diggs, who has seemed to struggle when on the field and isn’t someone the Lions likely could count on this year.  With Wilson, Lawson and Carter, the Lions should be fine for cornerback depth and could turn to Carey in the slot if push came to shove.  Diggs is a strong candidate for the practice squad.

Specialists – 3

  • Matt Prater

  • Sam Martin

  • Don Muhlbach

Notable – this is the first time in the last few years where the Lions didn’t have a true competition at kicker.


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