Openings on the Detroit Lions roster as 2020 NFL Draft approaches

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions have no reason to select a player who can’t possibly win a roster spot. Here’s one final look at the Motor City’s needs.

There have been talks all offseason about the Detroit Lions roster needs and many times a lot of fans don’t actually agree with the assessments. That doesn’t mean they agree with each other either, so there is always room for another opinion.

In asking a number of fans what positions the Lions should address in the draft I came away with a rather large list. I even had my own ideas then completely changed my mind after doing a thorough review of the roster. I wasn’t expecting that.

I created a public Google document to visually show my estimated roster and all those fighting for a roster spot. Then I reviewed contracts, players recently signed with fairly large bonuses, and key players who are still playing out their rookie contracts. I come up with the following thoughts about the roster.

The defensive line has a lot of players that can be moved around into different looks. Many times it’s a 3-4 look with a Jack linebacker who can move up or step back and play coverage. Other times, it’s more of a standard 4-3 look, or even a 2-4-5 with two blitzing backs. Whatever the situation calls for. This requires versatile players, and enough of them to rotate them in to spell those who will eventually get gassed.

Newly acquired Jamie Collins will be playing a lot of reps at Jack LB, along with Romeo Okwara and Austin Bryant both of whom will also play DDE opposite Trey Flowers. Anthony Pittman is the sole backup to Collins and he may not make the team. I believe a solid draft pick that can play Jack LB, as well as either DDE or OLB, could easily make the roster (and the team better) over one of the other backup linebackers.

At middle linebacker, when in a 3-4 set, have both Jarrad Davis and Jahlani Tavai playing. I believe there is room on the roster for a draftee to compete for a roster spot against Elijah Lee and Reggie Ragland.

At running back, after losing Riddick and McKissic over the past couple of years, there is room for a back with great hands to compete with Ty Johnson, Wes Hills, and Tra Carson for a roster spot.
It may be time to draft a couple of wide receivers to eventually replace slot receiver Danny Amendola and deep threat Marvin Jones Jr.

Draft picks for those roster spots would have to compete against Chris Lacy, Marvin Hall, Tom Kennedy, Travis Fulgham, Geremy Davis and Geronimo Allison for what might end up being three open roster spots (or they could end up on practice squad for a year or two if not ready to do back up duty as yet).

Newly acquired right tackle Vaitai may end up being tested at right guard or at least cross-trained to play either position. Drafting a player to compete with Josh Garnett, Oday Aboushi, Dan Skipper, and Caleb Benenoch for either right guard or right tackle is definitely a possibility, and most fans strongly suggest it is required.

The Lions may draft a punter to compete with Jack Fox and Matt Wile, and/or they might draft a fourth quarterback (a camp quarterback) as the Lions usually take four into camp.

The need at cornerback might be over exaggerated, as some believe the Lions like the Trufant, Oruwariye, Coleman combination. But there is room for competition in camp against Darryl Roberts, Mike Ford, and Jayron Kearse along with Tony McRae, Mike Jackson, and Dee Virgin. If the Lions aren’t as high on Oruwariye they may even be looking at a starter that moves Oruwariye into a backup role.

If the Lions trade down they might address some additional positions as well. They recently cut three players giving them room to draft as many as 12 instead of 9 players. They could look at a possible future left tackle and/or left guard, a possible backup tight end, and maybe even a second cornerback to groom for the future.

The Lions appear to have nose tackle addressed with Danny Shelton and John Atkins. The other d-line players tend to be able to be moved around. I’m no longer sure a pure defensive tackle is even on their radar (watch them draft that position first just to prove me wrong).

Next. Lions 2020 NFL Draft: 7-round mock with two trades. dark

So go ahead, print out my estimated roster for the Detroit Lions and cross off those you’d replace, see what holes you end up with. Just remember, there are roughly 33 players that are probably going nowhere due to cap reason or rookie contracts, and they tend to keep their draft picks, so there aren’t really that many positions that are being contested by what will eventually be only eight to eleven players in as many positions.