The Detroit Lions must whittle down the roster from 90 to 53 players before Saturday at 4pm EST. No longer is there incremental cuts in the NFL.
Remember, there are plenty of roster bubble players who will have practice squad eligiblity as well.
It also seems inevitable that GM Bob Quinn will add a few pieces from other teams after it’s all said and done. As it stands now, here is my best guess to who will make the Lions final roster.
In: Matthew Stafford, Tom Savage
Out: Josh Johnson, Luis Perez
Analysis: Savage was the guy behind Stafford until a concussion sidelined the veteran in the opener. He has the most arm talent and familiarity with the quarterback coach which gives him the slight edge over Johnson.
Johnson is the definition of a journeyman and Perez didn’t even latch on with a team until the last week of preseason. Perez could be a developmental type on the practice squad if the Lions have liked what they have seen so far.
Running Backs (4)
In: Kerryon Johnson, C.J. Anderson, Ty Johnson, FB Nick Bawden
Out: Mark Thompson, Justin Stockton, James Williams
Analysis: The biggest question going into the season was if the Lions wanted to keep a full back or not. Many suggested a fourth tight end could supplant the dying position. The early usage of Bawden with the starters would suggest the fullback role is here to stay.
After the Lions released Zach Zenner, most assumed it’s Thompson who has the most to gain. I really would’t be surprised if the Lions only went with four backs though.
Wide Receivers (6)
In: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Travis Fulgham, Andy Jones, Brandon Powell
Out: Chris Lacy, Tommylee Lewis, Jonathan Duhart, Tom Kennedy, Jordan Lasley
Injured: Jermaine Kearse (IR)
Analysis: The Lions have relied heavily on the reserve receivers for special teams in the past. Fulgham isn’t exactly a special teams ace, but GM Quinn spent a sixth-round pick on him this past April. Andy Jones will be the main special teamer of the group while Powell and Fulgham can be the backup receivers in case of injury.
Tight ends (4)
In: T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Logan Thomas, Isaac Nauta
Out: Jerome Cunningham, Austin Traylor
Analysis: The tight ends will be heavily involved in new OC Darrell Bevell‘s offense. Keeping four TEs on the roster isn’t out of the question if they believe in one player — Isaac Nauta.
Nauta was a highly touted high school player and made an impact immediately while at Georgia. He hasn’t exactly inspired hope early in his NFL career. The last preseason game was at least a positive one for him. The seventh-rounder has struggled with drops — which was considered a strength coming into the NFL. Tight end is a very difficult position to learn though and Nauta should be a semi-reliable option in both the blocking and pass game.
Offensive line (9)
In: OT Taylor Decker, OT Rick Wagner, C Frank Ragnow, OG Graham Glasgow, OG Joe Dahl, OL Kenny Wiggins, OG Oday Aboushi, OT Tyrell Crosby, OG Beau Benzschawel
Out: OT Ryan Pope, OT Matt Nelson, C Luke Bowanko, OT Andrew Donnal, OT Micah St. Andrew, C Leo Koloamatangi
Analysis: This unit has really disappointed in the preseason. Crosby shouldn’t make the team based off of his play this year, but there really isn’t a better option. I would expect Quinn to look at other teams cuts to provide better depth along the offensive front.
I put Benzschawel on the final 53 simply due to the Ragnow injury. Gives the Lions a little more depth on the inside for the time being.
Defensive line (8)
In: DE Trey Flowers, DT Damon Harrison, DT Mike Daniels, DE Da’Shawn Hand, DT A’Shawn Robinson, DE Romeo Okwara, DE Eric Lee, DT P.J. Johnson
Out: DT Kevin Strong, DE Mitchell Loewen, DE Jonathan Wynn, DT John Atkins, DT Ray Smith, DT Fred Jones
Injured: DT Darius Kilgo (IR)
Analysis: The top-6 seem pretty clearly defined. After that is where things get dicey. Kevin Strong has the edge over P.J. Johnson based on his play, but Johnson was a draft pick and offers a little more as a true nose tackle. The Lions are loaded at the 5-tech defensive end spot.
Both Loewen and Lee have impressed, but felt that only one will make it. I went with the hot hand in Lee — who also is a little bit more versatile.
In: Jarrad Davis, Jahlani Tavai, Devon Kennard, Christian Jones, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Austin Bryant, Miles Killebrew
Out: Steve Longa, Garret Dooley, Malik Carney, Anthony Pittman
Analysis: The injury to Jarrad Davis could muddy up the water as it pertains to who stays and who goes. Fortunately, Reeves-Maybin has been far exceeding expectations this preseason.
Longa returned to practice but did not play at all in the preseason. He looked promising last season before tearing his ACL, but we have nothing to go off of this year for evaluation purposes.
Defensive Backs (10)
In: CB Darius Slay, CB Justin Coleman, CB Rashaan Melvin, CB Jamal Agnew, CB Amani Oruwariye, S Quandre Diggs, S Tracy Walker, S Tavon Wilson, S Will Harris, S Andrew Adams
Out: CB Teez Tabor, S Charles Washington, CB Mike Ford, CB Dee Virgin, CB Jamar Summers, CB Andre Chachere, CB Jonathan Alston, S C.J. Moore
Analysis: It’s not too often you see a team keep as many safeties as corners, but Patricia loves to use three-safety sets. The special teams value of Washington could make him tough to part with, but I had to do it.
Tabor has started to practice in a limited capacity after suffering an injury. Unfortunately for him, I think his time might be up.
In: K Matt Prater, P Sam Martin, LS Don Muhlbach
Out: P Ryan Santoso
Analysis: Not much explanation needed here.