Training camp is two weeks old and pre-season Week 1 begins tonight. It’s time to do a 53 man roster prediction for Detroit.
QB- 2 Stafford and Rudock
Stafford and Rudock should be the Lions QBs. Rookie Brad Kaaya should go to the practice squad.
RB-4 Abdullah, Riddick, Zenner and Washington
Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are locks for the roster. Zach Zenner looks like he will make the squad based on playing time in 2016 and rep counts in practice. The final spot is a battle between veteran Matt Asiata, second year player Dwayne Washington and rookie Tion Green. I think Washington wins the job and Asiata is cut like Steven Ridley was last season. If the Lions keep five backs, then Asiata will stay.
WR-5 Tate, Jones, Golladay, Jones and Abbrederis
The top three are set with Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and rookie Kenny Golladay. The fourth WR has been an absolute close competition. TJ Jones, Jared Abbrederis, Keshawn Martin and Jace Billingsley are the main candidates fighting for two roster spots (maybe only one). I think Abbrederis and TJ Jones win the jobs and Billingsley goes to the practice squad again.
Tight End- 3- Ebron, Fells, Roberts
Ebron is a lock. Fells has played really well and was added to be a good blocker. Michael Roberts was drafted in Round 4 and can block and be a receiver. Cole Wick has an outside shot to make the roster if the Lions keep a fourth tight end.
Guards/Center-5- Swanson, TJ Lang, Glasgow, Dahl, Koalomatangi
Travis Swanson is the starting center and Lang is the upgraded right guard. Glasgow and Dahl are battling for the left guard spot. Dahl can play guard, center or tackle. Koalomatangi has played really well as the backup center. Glasgow can play center as well if Swanson is hurt. 2015 first round pick Laken Tomlinson could be as surprising cut if they want to keep Koalomatangi. Tomlinson on the roster and Koalomatangi to the practice squad is an option as well.
Tackles-4- Greg Robinson, Rick Wagner, Cyrus Kouandijo, Storm Norton, Decker (PUP), Corey Robinson (PUP)
The Lions added two new backup tackles when Decker got hurt in June. Both should make the roster with Decker on PUP. Corey Robinson hasn’t returned from a foot injury and can be on PUP. The final spot goes to rookie Storm Norton over Cornelius Lucas. Rick Wagner is set as the starting stud right tackle.
Specialists-3 Prater, Martin and Mulhbach
No surprises here other than Martin’s ankle injury.
Defensive Tackle -5 Ngata, Robinson, Spence, Hill, Ledbetter, Thornton (suspension)
Ngata and Robinson are set at DT. Akeem Spence and Jordan Hill were brought in to Detroit in free agency. Thornton is suspended for 6 games and won’t be on the roster until Week 7. Rookie Jeremiah Ledbetter is a versatile 5th DT that can also play DE. If Ledbetter plays well, Thornton might not be on the roster in Week 7 when he returns. However, injuries elsewhere could give Thornton a shot.
Defensive End-5- Ansah, Hyder, Washington, Zettel, Copeland, Bryant (suspension)
Ansah is still on PUP and hopefully is back for Detroit. They need him. Hyder and Washington are locks. Zettel played 20 percent of the snaps as a rookie and has a great camp filling in for injured defensive ends (Ansah, Washington and Bryant). Brandon Copeland is a DE and LB hybrid but stays for ST ability.
Linebacker- 5- Davis, Whitehead, Williams, Worrilow, Reeves-Mabin
The Lions are deeper at LB this year. Davis is the Mike and Whitehead is the Will. Williams is winning the SAM job. Worrilow is the top backup with tons of experience. Reeves-Mabin is a rookie backup at Will with ST ability. Bellore can play Mike and has ST ability as well but just misses the cut. Steve Longa is back on the practice squad. Brandon Copeland can play SAM too as a DE.
Cornerback- 7- Slay, Lawson, Diggs, Agnew, Tabor, Bademosi, Hayden
The Lions are deep at CB. Slay, Lawson and Tabor are locks. Diggs, Hayden and rookie Agnew have all battled for the nickel spot. Agnew stays for kick and punt return ability. Diggs has been winning the nickel job.
Safety- 5 Quin, Killebrew, Wilson, Carey, Carter
The Lions keep five safeties with Quin and Wilson as the starters. Killebrew will get a lot of defensive snaps as well in big nickel situations. 2015 Third round pick Alex Carter finally cracks the roster as he switched from CB to safety.
The Lions have some tough decisions to make. Injuries and suspensions give them some breathing room to keep a few more guys for depth until the regulars return.