Analysis: Detroit's Final Cuts; Or Are They?

The Detroit Lions sliced 20 names from the team's apparent "final roster," but the numbers don't add up -- and it doesn't seem so final. Complete analysis of Detroit's roster moves inside.

Color us surprised by many of Detroit's final cuts issued on Saturday.

The Lions reached the league's 53-man roster, albeit with one exception: the retention of seventh-round pick Caleb Campbell. Campbell is still listed on the team's "active" roster, despite being unable to play during training camp due to military obligations. One league source informed that the Lions are working with the league for a special roster exemption, leaving Campbell's status in a 'limbo' state until the two sides figure something out. With Campbell on the roster, the Lions technically have 54 shirts. Either way, Campbell was not on the list of those cut, but according to the team's media relations release, he also isn't among the seven rookies who made the team.

Analysis (Cuts):

The release of Greg Blue (S), Frank Davis (G), Artose Pinner (RB), and Jonathan Scott (T) were the most surprising. Blue didn't have a strong training camp, nor did he excel in the preseason, but he had glimpses of brilliance last year with a knack for being around the ball. Like those mentioned above, he is also not eligible for the team's practice squad, either. The Lions did, however, like the progress that defensive back Ramzee Robinson showed after spending last year on the practice squad. A former draft choice, Robinson showed great ball-hawking skills throughout the off-season program and the Lions believe he can play just about anywhere in the secondary (technically, Robinson is a cornerback).

Davis has been a pet-project of sorts that the Lions have evidently given up on. The third-year player out of South Florida was expected to compete for a starting position with Stephen Peterman, but slipped in recent weeks and fell behind reserve Manny Ramirez on the depth chart. The Lions did not keep a reserve behind Edwin Mulitalo, spelling the end of Davis' days.

Pinner, meanwhile, ran strong in the exhibition season but was ultimately the victim of a numbers game. The Lions kept Aveion Cason and Brian Calhoun on the Reserve list, so they don't count against the active roster. Many had speculated that Tatum Bell -- who entered training camp as the No. 1 running back -- might lose a roster spot after a meager exhibition  showing and camp. While rookie Kevin Smith made Bell expendable, Pinner apparently did not.

Scott, last year's fifth-round pick, lost his battle with Damion Cook. The 6-5, 330-pound Cook has more NFL experience (and more seasoned experience in Detroit's zone blocking scheme) than Scott, but you can't help but cringe at the loss of any draft choice. Cook will back-up incumbent Jeff Backus at left tackle.

The Rest:
WR Ron Bellamy - Not eligible for the practice squad, and struggled to shine amongst a talented group of receivers.
WR Brandon Middleton - Read above.
WR John Standeford - Also not eligible for the practice squad. Standeford might have put enough on tape during the exhibition season to warrant a look elsewhere.
WR Kenneth Moore - The former Wake Forest standout was a fifth-round pick, but was virtually invisible during camp and the preseason. The Lions had drafted Moore as a potential return man, but the team's preferance to load up at other positions (more on this below) made that idea moot.
WR DeVale Ellis - Like those above him, Ellis was quite literally the victim of a numbers game. Sadly, Ellis makes the team if they don't keep only four receivers. One more, and he's likely in. He isn't a practice squad candidate, but if Detroit has any injuries to the WR core in 2008, his number will be called.

LB Buster Davis - This one hurts, because he might not clear waivers. Another victim of a numbers game, although the choice of Gilbert Gardner over him (while defensible) is peculiar. Although the team wasn't going to keep more than six linebackers anyway, Davis' tenacious play and versatility didn't go unnoticed. If (a big if) he clears waivers (31 teams must pass on him), he's a shoe-in for the practice squad. Davis, though, deserves a roster spot somewhere in the NFL.
LB Darnell Bing - Never had a chance, but was a good camp body while the Lions had him around. Not eligible for practice squad.
LB Leon Joe - Isn't eligible for the practice squad, but didn't outshine either Bing or Davis.

DE Victor DeGrate, Rudolph Hardie - The Lions kept an amazing 11 (ELEVEN!) defensive linemen (we thought 10 was a stretch), but neither of these two players had the talent or political prowess of those chosen before them. Both are practice squad candidates, but only one will make it (our guess is DeGrate).

S LaMarcus Hicks, CB Kiwaukee Thomas, CB Dovonte Edwards - Detroit's secondary is flat-out loaded, with Robinson thieving the only slot that was really up for grabs. None are practice squad eligible.

QB Drew Henson, TE Clark Harris, G Corey Hulsey  - Brace yourself Michigan fans:  Henson is eligible (along with Harris) for the practice squad, and the Lions may choose to keep a QB considering the precarious health of Stanton and the age of Kitna. Harris might also find himself on the practice squad.

The Team (surprises):
Perhaps a nod to what everyone felt was a strong draft (especially as far as depth is concerned), the Lions placed seven of their rookies on the roster. Defensive linemen Cliff Avril, Landon Cohen and Andre Fluellen locked down spots, along with Smith, FB Jerome Felton, LB Jordon Dizon, and OT Gosder Cherilus. None are surprises, necessarily.

Who we were surprised by? Sean McHugh and John Owens, who gave the Lions a rather odd five tight ends. The team also elected to keep 15-year veteran Andy McCollum as a reserve to Dominic Raiola. This wouldn't be an issue if there wasn't players like Frank Davis who were given the axe. McCollum was late to join the club in camp and rarely played.

Potential Changes?
The Lions kept five TEs after telling media members they'd only keep two. They have 11 defensive linemen after Marinelli thought they would be set at nine. Those two positions cut short the number of receivers (only four?) and RBs (two on the active roster?). Every NFL team was forced to release many players on Saturday, so certain ball clubs won't show their hand in the "final roster." Millen and Marinelli are likely combing through cuts across the league, searching for potential upgrades that may add more balance to this roster.

Complete roster below:

51 	Raiola, Dominic C 	6-1 	295 	8 	Nebraska
67 	McCollum, Andy 	C 	6-4 	300 	15 	Nebraska
38 	Robinson, Ramzee CB 	5-10 	186 	2 	Alabama
30 	Bodden, Leigh 	CB 	6-1 	193 	6 	Duquesne
25 	Kelly, Brian 	CB 	5-11 	193 	11 	USC
23 	Smith, Keith 	CB 	5-11 	191 	5 	McNeese State
21 	Fisher, Travis 	CB 	5-10 	189 	7 	Central Florida
99 	White, Dewayne 	DE 	6-2 	273 	6 	Louisville
97 	Alama-Francis, Ikaika DE 6-5 	280 	2	Hawaii
93 	Smith, Corey 	DE 	6-2 	250 	6 	N.C. State
95 	DeVries, Jared 	DE 	6-4 	275 	10 	Iowa
92 	Avril, Cliff 	DE 	6-3 	252 	R 	Purdue
98 	Cohen, Landon 	DT 	6-3 	274  	R 	Ohio
96 	Fluellen, Andre DT 	6-2 	296 	R 	Florida State
91 	Darby, Chuck 	DT 	6-0 	297  	8 	South Carolina State
78 	Redding, Cory 	DT 	6-4 	295  	6 	Texas
75 	Cody, Shaun 	DT 	6-4 	310  	4 	Southern California
79 	Moore, Langston DT 	6-1 	305 	4 	South Carolina
45 	Felton, Jerome 	FB 	6-0 	246  	R 	Furman
63 	Ramirez, Manny 	G 	6-3 	335  	2 	Texas Tech
66 	Peterman, Stephen G 	6-4 	323 	4 	Louisiana State
64 	Mulitalo, Edwin G 	6-3 	345 	10 	Arizona
4 	Hanson, Jason 	K 	6-0 	190  	17 	Washington State
59 	Lewis, Alex 	LB 	6-0 	230  	5 	Wisconsin
53 	Lenon, Paris 	LB 	6-2 	235  	7 	Richmond
50 	Sims, Ernie 	LB 	6-0 	225  	3 	Florida State
52 	Cannon, Anthony LB 	6-0 	228 	3 	Tulane
57 	Dizon, Jordon 	LB 	6-0 	229  	R 	Colorado
47 	Campbell, Caleb LB 	6-2 	229 	R 	Army
54 	Gardner, Gilbert LB 	6-1 	228 	5 	Purdue
48 	Muhlbach, Don 	LS 	6-4 	265  	5 	Texas A&M
2 	Harris, Nick 	P 	6-2 	218 	8 	California
6 	Orlovsky, Dan 	QB 	6-5 	230 	4 	Connecticut
8 	Kitna, Jon 	QB 	6-2 	220  	12 	Central Washington
5 	Stanton, Drew 	QB 	6-3 	230 	2 	Michigan State
28 	Bell, Tatum 	RB 	5-11 	213 	5 	Oklahoma State
34 	Smith, Kevin 	RB 	6-1 	217 	R 	Central Florida
32 	Pearson, Kalvin S 	5-10 	200 	4 	Grambling State
26 	Smith, Dwight 	S 	5-10 	201 	8 	Akro
27 	Bullocks, Daniel S 	6-0 	212 	3 	Nebraska
42 	Alexander, Gerald S 	6-0 	204 	2 	Boise State
76 	Backus, Jeff 	T 	6-5 	305  	8 	Michigan
72 	Foster, George 	T 	6-5 	338  	6 	Georgia
77 	Cherilus, Gosder T 	6-7 	319  	R 	Boston College
74 	Cook, Damion 	T 	6-5 	330 	8 	Bethune-Cookman
86 	Gaines, Michael TE 	6-4 	277  	5 	Central Florida
89 	Campbell, Dan 	TE 	6-5 	265  	10 	Texas A&M
49 	McHugh, Sean 	TE 	6-5 	265  	3 	Penn State
83 	Owens, John 	TE 	6-3 	255  	6 	Notre Dame
82 	FitzSimmons, Casey TE 	6-4 	258  	6 	Carroll College
11 	Williams, Roy 	WR 	6-3 	220  	5 	Texas
87 	Furrey, Mike 	WR 	6-0 	195  	6 	Northern Iowa
81 	Johnson, Calvin WR 	6-5 	235  	2 	Georgia Tech
84 	McDonald, Shaun WR 	5-10 	183  	6 	Arizona State


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