Could the Detroit Lions keep six running backs in 2018?

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 08: Quarterback Matthew Stafford
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 08: Quarterback Matthew Stafford /

The Detroit Lions have a lot horses in the stable that bring many different things to the table. Could the team keep up to six running backs on their final roster?

It’s been too long the Detroit Lions have struggled running the football. 2018 is a year not short on talent at running back.

The amount of resources to improve the movement on the ground is abundant. From free agency to the draft, the Lions are bound to improve.

Top to bottom, the running backs are looking solid. The skill level at the position was never really that bad, most of the struggles were due in part to the offensive line and coaching.

Speaking of coaching, Matt Patricia took over as the head man in charge. Coming from the New England Patriots, he’ll know how to kick start a stalling rush attack.

His previous team carried six running backs in 2017. That philosophy could easily trickle down on to Detroit.

Aside from that, there’s more compelling logic to tie the “Patriot Way” to the Lions. It starts with the fullback.

Originally a linebacker, Nick Bellore prior to the start of training camp was getting reps at fullback. Once the competition for the job was removed due to injury, the switch to offense became full time.

His versatility at different positions means the need for another running back isn’t an unfeasible scenario. If there’s poor play or injuries to the linebackers, another running back might need to step up.

Another thing, the talent beyond the top three stud wide receivers is questionable. Two running backs like Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are considered more pass catchers than running backs. Those guys are better than any receiver contending for the fourth and fifth spot.

LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson are the most recent additions and aren’t going anywhere. Add it all up, and that makes five backs, the usual limit.

Being such a strong group could prove too hard not to keep another back. That last spot might be for Zach Zenner.

Special teams is another factor that plays into the equation of making the roster. From a coverage standpoint, he’s one of the best on the squad. Throw in every-down value and reps at fullback and it sounds more and more like he’s safe to stay in Detroit.

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The odd man out appears to be Dwayne Washington, but he also earned snaps at fullback as well and also has return value. These coaches will have some tough decisions to make.

Typically, you keep more of what is a strength. I wouldn’t be surprised to see six running backs make it on Detroit’s final 53-man roster in 2018.