The Detroit Lions’ first roster of 2021 is set, but it is hardly set in stone at this point in time.
With Detroit’s roster in-flux in a big way under a new staff, the Lions have seen almost every spot on the team theoretically up for competition, and those competitions have produced some interesting results thus far as final cuts have come down.
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How does the first roster shake out after the preseason games and a month of practice? Here’s an initial look at how the team lines up.
- Jared Goff, David Blough, Tim Boyle
The Lions have kept three quarterbacks in the past, and this isn’t the year that changes. Boyle felt like he played himself out of a regular role with a pair of inconsistent preseason games in spite of his moniker as “Mr. Preseason.” David Blough has been in contention to stay as well, and went out and has made a solid case for the role with quality play given his experience with the team. Boyle is dinged up and Blough will start as the second quarterback.
Running Back (5)
- D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Jermar Jefferson, Godwin Igwebuike, Jason Cabinda (FB)
The Lions have a solid starting duo with Swift and Williams, but beyond that, there were some questions. Jefferson has done some solid things and could have a big role. Igwebuike is a surprise contributor and makes the team after a solid preseason. He could offer them something given the determination he has shown.
Wide Receiver (6)
- Tyrell Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tom Kennedy, Kalif Raymond, Quintez Cephus, Trinity Benson
Detroit’s wideout group is almost completely changed for 2021, and the team will see a few surprise players stick out including Kennedy who will provide some toughness and Raymond, who offers the team some skill in terms of special teams. Williams is a veteran name to remember. Breshad Perriman has been bumped off the roster. Cephus will be depended on to take huge steps forward. Benson joins the team from a trade, and will be counted on in a big way.
Tight End (2)
- T.J. Hockenson, Darren Fells
The big two will be Hockenson and Fells, and right now, there isn’t a third player on the roster at the spot. Nobody stepped up and delivered during the preseason and camp, so perhaps, the Lions look to fill the spot somewhere else in free agency. This is at the very least a good one-two punch.
Offensive Line (8)
- Frank Ragnow, Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Penei Sewell, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Logan Stenberg, Matt Nelson, Evan Brown
This line will offer the Lions some solid starters as well as some good depth in Stenberg and Nelson. Brown has enjoyed a solid preseason and offers good depth. Detroit is expected to have one of the best offensive lines in football this season starter wise, and these guys will prove it to be the case in a big way.
Defensive Line (8)
- Michael Brockers, Kevin Strong, Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, Nick Williams, Austin Bryant, John Penisini, Da’Shawn Hand
Detroit’s defensive line is changing its look, and the rookies could be expected to play a major role for the team. Last season, Penisini was the best of a tough bunch, but a move to add Hector could prove the team couldn’t 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 when he returns. Williams is a veteran leader for the line and Strong is an intriguing young player.
- Jamie Collins, Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Charles Harris, Anthony Pittman, Jalen Reeves-Maybin
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. Barnes has made a fast impression, and Pittman has shown enough positive to stay and work along with Reeves-Maybin whereas Jahlani Tavai has not within the team’s new defense. He’s cut as a result, and this is an interesting group.
- Tracy Walker, Will Harris, Dean Marlowe, C.J. Moore, Bobby Price
The Lions have some options at safety in terms of who starts and roles, but obviously, the team will be looking for Walker to step up and Harris to have a big camp. Moore sticks for what he offers on special teams and what he has done the last few years there for the Lions. Price is a surprise, but he too has special teams experience and versatility.
- Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, Ifeatu Melifonwu, A.J. Parker, Jerry Jacobs
The Lions have seen the cornerback group quietly turn into a fascinating spot on the team. Parker has essentially earned his way on the roster with solid play as did Jacobs. Detroit cut Nickell Robey-Coleman and Corn Elder, committing to some youth. It looked like the team wouldn’t have much mystery here, considering what they have added and the relative lack of depth on the roster. Some major surprises have emerged in Parker and Jacobs, and it’s likely that they will be amongst the brightest stars of camp as an undrafted free agent.
- Jack Fox (P), Scott Daly (LS)
The Lions will get Fox back and Daly is the only snapper on the roster. It seemed like a lock he will win the job and he has. Kicker offers some intrigue as nobody is on the roster, but the team can be expected to work one out and make a signing in the coming days before the season.