Predicting the Detroit Lions final roster: Who stays, who goes?

Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /
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Cabinda offers Lions versatility
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /

Detroit Lions Linebackers to watch

The starters and primary depth are set with Collins, Davis, Tavai, and Christian Jones but you also have to include rookie Julian Okwara here as the Jack linebacker of the future.

Davis can play Will, the weak-side off-ball linebacker, or Mike linebacker, the middle linebacker, but he has done better in the Will role. However, his problems as a Mike linebacker really only highlight that the Detroit Lions do not have an ideal player there and in particular, their linebackers have been poor versus the pass but have put Davis in there as their best option. They don’t seem to want to Davis to stay there but haven’t groomed a better replacement, yet.

Which brings us here, the Lions have to find a better Mike and improve their pass coverage along with improving the pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Tavai has done as well as any Lions linebacker as a rookie but needs to improve to solidify his place inside. Until then, Jason Cabinda and Reggie Ragland will push him as the starter and for a spot of their own.

At Will another person who factors in here is Miles Killebrew, who while listed as a safety, is much more of an outside linebacker-safety hybrid who plays most like a linebacker. That leaves Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Elijah Lee, and Anthony Pittman still in the mix, all of whom are the smaller, strictly outside players.

The Jack linebacker is a standing rusher role, usually lined up opposite of the down defensive end in 3-3 alignments, that will probably be occupied by Collins primarily but the Lions would like Okwara and Bryant to provide the depth here assuming that Bryant can get healthy.

Prediction: Bryant, Cabinda, and Ragland get kept to backup the Mike and Jack spots; Bryant already counted as an end so only six spots are linebackers with Bryant and Julian Okwara playing both end and Jack linebacker. Nine plus six brings us to fifteen.