So much can change between now and the start of the 2017 NFL season. In saying that, here is an early prediction of how the Detroit Lions roster may shake out come week one. You can find the thought process behind some of the decisions below.
Two or three QBs:
This is always a wild card in the NFL. Not every team needs to keep three quarterbacks considering their shot at a Super Bowl with a third stringer is next to impossible. With the Lions, it is slightly different. Back to back years drafting a QB in the sixth round has made the position carry slightly more value behind Matthew Stafford. Neither of the youngsters is a proven NFL signal caller, but GM Bob Quinn would rather not risk either being poached off the practice squad. It will be a luxury to keep three. I would only expect them to keep both backups if the injury bug doesn’t hit them too hard at other positions.
The Lions carried five running backs last year because former FB Michael Burton took up an almost useless roster spot. His position was phased out of the Lions offense and my bet is they will use his vacancy on the tight end position. With TE Eric Ebron looking to fill the old Anquan Boldin role, OC Jim Bob Cooter will likely run plenty of 12-personnel. He will need depth at the tight end position more than a fifth running back who has the talent of a mid-season free agent pickup.
Only four WRs:
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the Lions spent most of last year with only four receivers on the roster. Especially with Ebron contributing more on the outside, there isn’t any receiver that stands out as roster worthy behind TJ Jones. Jones is a fringe player himself but provides special teams value. There are a few others that I could see take over that final receiver spot.
Decker’s injury creates opening:
After starting left tackle Taylor Decker went down with a shoulder injury, the landscape of the offensive front drastically changed. Three potential replacements were acquired in an attempt to cover the devastating loss. The ideal situation would be placing Decker on the PUP and have him return healthy once he must be activated from the list. In the meantime, the Lions have plenty of versatile linemen who can play all over the line. Hopefully one of them can at least adequately fill the void in Decker’s absence.
Keeping seven corners might sound crazy at first, but in this pass-happy league, it really doesn’t move the meter anymore. The traditional five roster spots reserved for corners have been expanded due to the decreasing use of the third linebacker on defense. Now, the slot CB sees the field more than the SAM backer. Much like last year, the Lions will only keep five LBs (unless maybe they snag Zach Orr) and will also keep one less safety than in 2016. CB Johnson Bademosi will make the team solely due to special teams and could even be considered the fifth safety– if you want to rationalize it that way. In one of the few positions of depth, it would be unwise for the Lions to cut a corner just to keep another sub-par player at another position.
— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) June 20, 2017