Detroit Lions: Final Roster Spots
By Al Stahl
The Lions have to make their final cuts by 4pm on Saturday. A ton of people have submitted their own personal final roster projections, including our own Kent Platte’s. That is not what this is. Everyone knows there are about 45-50 guys that are locked in to the final roster. This article is about those remaining handful of roster spots.
Buffalo Bills tight end Nick O’Leary (84) runs after a catch during the third quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Lions beat the Bills 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s start with a quick recap of the locks. I like defense, so we’re going to do that first. Defensively, 24 spots are set.
Defensive Line (8)
Ansah, Jones, Tapp, Taylor
Ngata, Walker, Reid, Wright
Levy, Tulloch, Whitehead, Van Noy, Lewis, Bynes
Slay, Mathis, Lawson, Wilson, Diggs, Carter
Quin, Ihedigbo, Carey, Abdul-Quddus
The Big Decision
With just one spot open, the preseason turned into a four way battle royale for the last available roster spot on defense. The choice should come down to one of the following:
DE Phillip Hunt vs DE Larry Webster vs DT Jermelle Cudjo vs LB Brandon Copeland.
The Offensive Locks
Detroit Lions quarterback Kellen Moore (17) celebrates with wide receiver T.J. Jones (13) after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Offensively, things get way cloudier. 17 spots are locks with competitions at each position group where one or both players will make the final roster. First, the locks:
Running Back/Fullback (4)
Bell, Riddick, Adbullah, Burton
Wide Receiver/Tight End (5)
Johnson, Tate, Fuller
Offensive Line (7)
Reiff, Waddle, Lucas, Warford, Swanson, Tomlinson, Ramirez
The Big Decisions (Plural)
Here, there are 8 spots available. In any of these options, both players may end up on the roster, but at least one of them will make it. The Lions’ choices are:
Kellen Moore vs Orlovsky
Winn vs Zenner
Lance Moore vs Ross vs Jones
Fauria vs Wright
Robinson vs Boggs
Finding Answers & Making Decisions
First, let me start by saying Special Teams is a lock. It’s going to be Prater, Martin and Muhlbach. So there.
Defensively, there are two questions that need answering. One, which position has the biggest need? Seven LBs is overkill and 5 DTs may be a bit of a stretch, despite the current health issues at the position. Secondly, which player provides the most talent right away? Webster is a 4th round pick that the Lions haven’t given up on, but he is in no way ready to make a final 53. Hunt has looked good this preseason and, although undersized, has shown the skill in rushing the passer that the Lions are severely lacking on the defensive line. Hunt gets the last defensive spot.
Offensively, let’s start with the QB spot. If it was up to me, we’d be keeping two. I’ve never seen a third string QB perform more than marginally better than whoever the best guy on the street is. The Lions are keeping 3 QBs though. This is about who gets 2nd string duty, but both QBs are making the final 53.
At WR, TJ Jones is on the outside looking in. He showed too little too late and should clear waivers to end up on the Practice Squad. I think Moore and Ross are both in, bringing our total roster up to 49. At this point, things start to get really tricky.
Detroit Lions running back Zach Zenner (41) carries the ball against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
As you may have noticed, I skipped over the RB position. That’s because there are a couple options the Lions could go with, essentially having to choose 4 of the 6 remaining players.
Option 1: The Lions keep both Boggs and Robinson. In this case, the Lions then have to choose between Zenner and Winn and between Fauria and Wright for the last two spots. In that case, I’m going with Zenner and Wright to make the final 53.
Option 2: The Lions keep Zenner and Winn, deciding to choose between Fauria and Wright and between Boggs and Robinson. In this case, the Lions have to risk cutting Robinson in the hopes he clears waivers and ends up on the Practice Squad. This move involves too much risk for the Lions though, since if Robinson is claimed, the Lions are left with just one quasi-capable backup at tackle, in Cornelius Lucas.
I think the Lions end up keeping 9 offensive linemen. They kept 8 last year and there is talent that they would be cutting in order to keep 9, but looking back at last year I think the Lions wish they were deeper along the offensive line. Without Boggs, if one injury occurs along the interior OL, the Lions would have no other option. The same applies at OT regarding Robinson. As far as choosing Zenner over Winn, I think Special Teams only gets you so far. You’ve got to go with the better player at the position. TE could go either way, but given Fauria’s mopey attitude, it looks like the writing is on the wall.
We’ll keep a close eye on cuts as they come in. If you have any issues with my choices, feel free to call me out on twitter. I’m @LethalSax.
Next: SLR Roundtable: Detroit Lions Roster, Preseason Recap, Regular Season Predictions
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