Lions 2021 Roster: Predicting the 53 Man Before Training Camp

Jared Goff

Getty Jared Goff fires a pass down field against the Dolphins in 2020.

The Detroit Lions will be set to tackle training camp in the coming days, and when they do so, countless jobs will be up for grabs across the team.

With Detroit’s roster in-flux in a big way, the Lions have every spot on the team theoretically up for competition, and even if a starting role is guaranteed, there will be backups in a scrap to see who sticks around with a role, which makes for an exciting time no matter what happens on the field.

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How could the roster shake out? Before camp begins, here’s a look at the first prediction of the summer as to what this season’s edition of the team could look like.

Quarterback (2)

  • Jared Goff, Tim Boyle
  • The Lions have kept three quarterbacks in the past, but this could be the year that changes. David Blough will be in contention to stay, but Boyle has been a preseason revelation before and could have signed with the idea of being the consistent backup in Detroit. It’s wise at this point to bet on the team giving him a look behind Goff for 2021, which means Blough could be the odd man out with other roster needs.

    Running Back (3)

  • D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Jermar Jefferson
  • The Lions have a solid punch with Swift and Williams, but beyond that, things kind of head off a cliff. Jefferson can impress the team in camp and stick around, but is there another addition coming? It’s possible the Lions look at a veteran like Todd Gurley. For now, though, these three will be what takes the team into the season as it stands right now.

    Wide Receiver (7)

  • Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Chad Hansen, Kalif Raymond, Quintez Cephus, Geronimo Allison
  • Detroit’s wideout group is almost completely changed for 2021, and the team will see a few surprise players stick out including Hansen who will provide some leadership and Raymond, who offers the team some skill in terms of special teams. Allison is a veteran name to remember along with Perriman and Williams, and Cephus will be depended on to take huge steps forward. Other talented players such as Tom Kennedy and Sage Surratt may land on the practice squad.

    Tight End (3)

  • T.J. Hockenson, Darren Fells, Alize Mack
  • The big two will be Hockenson and Fells, and the Lions signed Mack away from the Saints this offseason, so it seems like a fair bet to say that he will crack the roster and serve as a solid blocking option for the team in 2021. Tight end isn’t deep, but the top players are solid and that is a big advantage for the Lions this season. Finally, they could have the right mix of playmaking and blocking in the group.

    Offensive Line (7)

  • Frank Ragnow, Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Penei Sewell, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Tyrell Crosby, Logan Stenberg
  • This line will offer the Lions some solid starters as well as some good depth in Crosby and Stenberg. Detroit is expected to have one of the best offensive lines in football this season, and these guys will prove it to be the case in a big way. Dan Skipper, Matt Nelson and other will make a case to stay, but the Lions have a few players with upside to serve in reserve roles.

    Defensive Line (7)

  • Michael Brockers, John Penisini, Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, Nick Williams, Kevin Strong, Jashon Cornell
  • Detroit’s defensive line is changing its look, and the rookies could be expected to play a major role for the team in addition to rising second-year man Penisini, providing the team can fit him into their new 3-4 plan. Cornell is suspended for the first three games of the year, but offers upside as an interior presence who can push the pocket. Williams will have to battle to stay, as will Srtrong.

    Linebacker (9)

  • Jamie Collins, Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, Alex Anzalone, Jahlani Tavai, Derrick Barnes,
    Charles Harris, Shaun Dion Hamilton
  • Detroit’s new 3-4 defense will feature some major changes at linebacker, so the team will want to make sure they have enough guys to stick around to play a variety of roles. Keep an eye on UDFA Tavante Beckett, who could push for inclusion here or find himself on the practice squad. Now, it’s easier to bet on Hamilton grabbing a spot, but that might not always be the case.

    Safety (5)

  • Tracy Walker, Will Harris, Dean Marlowe, D’Angelo Amos, C.J. Moore
  • The Lions have some options at safety in terms of who starts and roles, but obviously, the team will be lookng for Walker to step up and Harris to have a big camp. Cracking the roster here in perhaps a bit of a surprise is Amos, a player with blazing speed as a UDFA that could figure in for the return game and special teams. Moore stays for the same reason.

    Cornerback (7)

  • Jeff Okudah, Quinton Dunbar, Amani Oruwariye, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Corn Elder, Mike Ford, Alex Brown
  • The Lions shouldn’t have much mystery here, considering what they have added and the relative lack of depth on the roster. Everyone from last year has already been purged, so it’s just a matter of sorting out who stays and who goes from this group at this point in time and what roles they have. As of now, it seems safe to say Brown could wrestle away the last spot given his special teams acumen and the role he has played for contending teams in the past.

    Specialists (3)

  • Jack Fox (P), Randy Bullock (K), Don Muhlbach (LS)
  • The Lions will get Fox back as well as Muhlbach, so there is no mystery there as to what will play out with the team for a pair of specialty spots. Kicker offers some intrigue as Matthew Wright will battle Bullock. At this point, it seems safe to bet the Lions could go with experience in Bullock given Wright’s lack of NFL chops. In a few weeks, that may not matter, but for now, it’s safer to bet with the team keeping Bullock given what he’s already done in the league.

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