Lions’ 53 Man Roster Prediction: First Look Before Summer Break

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell working with Jared Goff and Lions quarterbacks in a 2021 game.

The Detroit Lions have been attacking the offseason for the last few months trying to improve a roster that struggled to a 3-13-1 finish last season, and for the most part, they have done a good job of that.

At this point, the bigger struggle for the team may be thinking about who will make the roster. Suddenly deep in plenty of key spots, the Lions will have a lot of big decisions to make about who stays and who goes when the rubber meets the road later on this summer.

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How could the Detroit roster stack up now? Here’s a look at where things stand as the team continues to push through the offseason program ahead of their elongated summer break before training camp.

Quarterback (2)

  • Jared Goff, Tim Boyle
  • The Lions have kept three quarterbacks in the past, and did so last season. By re-signing David Blough, it seems easy to say they’re committed to that once again for this season. The biggest goal this year is finding out if Tim Boyle looks more consistent on the field as well as seeing if Blough gets a bigger chance to prove himself in the preseason. During last year’s preseason, Blough was the more impressive player at the spot, but Boyle got the second-team snaps once the season began and kept a dinged-up team in games late. Will the team keep three again? It doesn’t seem as clear this year given depth elsewhere. It’s a big year for Jared Goff as well considering where the Lions sit at the position. There feels likely to be three players at this spot for 2022, but can the Lions afford to do that at the expense of another player? It will be a key variable to watch in camp.

    Running Back (5)

  • D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Jermar Jefferson, Godwin Igwebuike, Jason Cabinda (FB)
  • The Lions have a solid starting duo with D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, and as they learned last season, some solid depth as well. Jermar Jefferson has done some solid things and figures to stick around to see some snaps. Godwin Igwebuike also proved himself as a solid special teams stud which should keep him around, and if he can ditch the fumble problems, could be a key player for the team in terms of carries as well. This is a deep group which offers Detroit’s offense some major upside in terms of grinding out yards.

    Wide Receiver (6)

  • Josh Reynolds, DJ Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, Quintez Cephus, Jameson Williams
  • Detroit’s wideout group is almost completely changed for 2022, and this group already figures to be way better on the field given what they were already able to do last season. Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond return after big seasons last year, and DJ Chark comes into the mix to give the Lions a bonafide deep threat. Amon-Ra St. Brown figures to be a stud, and Quintez Cephus figures to come back healthy and try and pick up where he left off pre-injury. Jameson Williams might not play quickly, but it might not matter for the Lions.

    Tight End (4)

  • T.J. Hockenson, Garrett Griffin, Brock Wright, James Mitchell
  • The big two will be T.J. Hockenson and Garrett Griffin, though the latter isn’t expected to contribute much besides blocking. The Lions signed Brock Wright as an undrafted free agent last year and he delivered a couple of touchdowns to the mix late, so he will earn another look for this season. James Mitchell has been added to the roster, and is an intriguing addition off his own injury concerns from college. Mitchell could be good to go this season, though, which will help the pass catching depth here given his prowess as a receiver.

    Offensive Line (7)

  • Frank Ragnow, Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Penei Sewell, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Tommy Kraemer, Matt Nelson
  • This line will offer the Lions some solid starters as well as some good depth in Brown and Kraemer, both of whom proved their worth to the team late in the 2021-22 season. 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. There are others to watch here, including Evan Brown, Logan Stenberg, Ryan McCollum and Dan Skipper, any of whom could be stashed for depth’s sake. Also keep an eye on undrafted free agent Obinna Eze. If he doesn’t make the team, he could be an easy bet for inclusion on the practice squad as well as a candidate for a call up if things go well

    Defensive Line (7)

  • Michael Brockers, Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Paschal, John Cominsky, John Penisini
  • Detroit’s defensive line has completely changed its look, and the rookies could be expected to play a major role for the team just like they did in 2021. Detroit’s moves to add Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal make the bubble much tighter for plenty of others. John Cominsky came into the mix this offseason and could be primed to earn a role with the team given what he can do. John Penisini remains a solid player for the middle of the line, and while he could be on the bubble for a player who offers more pass rushing options, he lasts for right now.

    Linebacker (9)

  • Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Charles Harris, Chris Board, Malcolm Rodriguez, James Houston, Jarrad Davis
  • Detroit’s defense will feature some major changes at linebacker, and the team will have a lot to sort out at this spot. Already, Malcolm Rodriguez looks like a potential solid player in the making for the roster, and Board should be a good player for special teams. Jarrad Davis returns to beef up the depth on the back end as well, and should be put in a better position to succeed by this staff. The team will be anticipating Derrick Barnes having a bigger year as a second-year player, and Alex Anzalone offers veteran depth for the roster after doing so last year. The team will benefit from a healthy Okwara duo as well.

    Safety (4)

  • Tracy Walker, DeShon Elliott, Will Harris, Kerby Joseph
  • The Lions have some options at safety in terms of who starts and roles, but obviously, the team will be looking for Tracy Walker to step up after his extension and Kerby Joseph to find a role. Cracking the roster here is DeShon Elliott, a former starter in Baltimore before injury intervened. He could be a major find if he manages to play as well as he is capable. C.J. Moore is great on special teams but he could be the odd man out for the Lions this year, just one of the many tough calls the team will have to make due to increased depth. Will Harris could be on the bubble, but may last due to the position versatility he offers.

    Cornerback (7)

  • Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, Ifeatu Melifonwu, AJ Parker, Jerry Jacobs, Mike Hughes, Chase Lucas
  • The Lions have seen the cornerback group quietly turn into a fascinating spot on the team. Amani Oruwariye is one of the better players to watch given his elite 2021 season on the field, and KJeff Okudah will be back in the fray to see if he can lock down a role. Jacobs and Parker had huge debut seasons and should be suited for even more this year. Mike Hughes is a veteran who should serve as good depth. Perhaps Chase Lucas impresses the Lions to hang on enough, and at this point, it seems likely that will be the case relative to where he was picked.

    Specialists (3)

  • Jack Fox (P), Riley Patterson (K), Scott Daly (LS)
  • Last year, the Lions had more intrigue at this spot than they figure to during the 2022 year. The team will keep Jack Fox at punter as expected, and Riley Patterson figures to be the easy choice at kicker even though he may not have been completely tested last year. Scott Daly filled in admirably for Don Muhlbach, who is now on the team’s staff. Overall, there shouldn’t be many questions about who does what with regards to this group in 2022.

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