5 Key Takeaways From Lions’ First 2021 Roster Reveal

Brad Holmes Rod Wood

Getty Brad Holmes and Rod Wood mix it up during Lions training camp in July 2021.

The Detroit Lions have put together their first roster of the 2021 season, and as a result, there are several reactions and overreactions that will take place in the next few days.

Making sense of all the noise can be tough, as well as understanding some of the true implications of what the first roster really means as a whole for a new season.

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What should be the biggest takeaways from the first roster? Here’s a look at some thoughts after the list has been revealed.

The Lions’ Kicker Problem Isn’t Actually a Problem

Naturally, the internet erupted mocking the Lions electing not to have a kicker on their initial 53-man roster considering how strange that is in league circles. Many folks comically wondered if the Lions would be a team not to go with a kicker, and began to mock Dan Campbell as a result. What those folks miss through their laughter is there is over a week until the Lions play in the Week 1 season opener. Lots can happen before then, and the team is still likely to have a kicker on the roster. In actuality, the decision was a fairly brilliant one. It buys the Lions time to try and find a more permanent solution than either Randy Bullock or Zane Gonzalez represented, and get a true look at the good options that exist after camp cuts and the preseason. The Lions slashing both kickers gives them a better chance at solving the issue for good rather than rolling with the player they had all along and risking a revolving door all year.

Lions Going Young at Defensive Back High-Risk, High-Reward

Detroit surprisingly elected to cut the likes of Nickell Robey-Coleman and Corn Elder as part of their final moves, and previously, did not keep around other veterans they signed like Quinton Dunbar when they had the chance. On the flip side, Detroit kept young, inexperienced names such as A.J. Parker, Jerry Jacobs and Bobby Price in the mix. Obviously, this sends a message the team likes their motivated young players and is prepared to develop them moving forward, but the gamble is a firm one considering the lack of big-time experience for those players. This will put pressure on Aubrey Pleasant, Aaron Glenn and the defensive staff to bring along the youngsters quickly, who must prove they're ready for the roles which they will be given right away. It feels that this group, led by the much-maligned Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye, must come together quickly or risk a rough season. It will either prove to be a major strength or major weakness for the team this year as the youngsters take their lumps at one of the hardest positions to play in the league.

Detroit’s Tight End Depth Looks Shaky

One of the spots where the Lions might want to hurry to find a solution on the waiver wire other than kicker is at tight end. The team only has T.J. Hockenson and Darren Fells on the depth chart for 2021, and while that is a formidable duo, the Lions need someone to come in and play a role as a third option. Injuries happen at the spot, and as much as everyone wants to see Hockenson reach his potential as an elite NFL player, he's had his share of bumps and bruises in the past. Fells is aging quickly, so there's injury worries for him as well in spite of his durability. The Lions probably need to find one more player to figure in at tight end to feel good about this group in 2021. Alize Mack and others didn't make the cut, but that doesn't mean a more dependable veteran couldn't offer a big help to the franchise in a depth role.

The Lions’ Defensive Front Looks Much Stronger

One of the deepest spots on the roster figures to be the defensive line, specifically, the spots up front and also at defensive end, edge and outside linebacker. As part of a new 3-4 defense, the team will be able to throw tons of looks at teams, and having players like Michael Brockers, Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeill, Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara and Austin Bryant in the mix to wreak havoc is good news. All that isn't even to mention key depth pieces such as Nick Williams, John Penisini, Jashon Cornell, Charles Harris and Julian Okwara. The Lions have had questions about the defensive trenches for the last few years, but finally, that looks poised to change in a huge way. That's great news for the franchise and could mean a big deal for the defensive development of the team in 2021.

It Feels Like Lions Still Need Another Wide Receiver

Detroit added Trinity Benson in a bold trade on cut day, and that move could help given the positive career trajectory Benson seems to have at this point in time. Still, he's a young, underrated player, Amon-Ra St. Brown is a rookie, Tom Kennedy is an unproven practice squad player, Quintez Cephus is largely unproven and Tyrell Williams is an injury-plagued veteran. That's a lot of uncertainty for a group that feels like it could stand one more veteran addition to help bring things together. Who that veteran is remains anyone's guess, but it feels clear that the Lions could need someone else to give them some production that they can count on given all the other question marks.

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