Detroit Lions: 53-man roster prediction prior to season opener

Detroit Lions (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
5 of 11
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Tight Ends

In: (3) T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Isaac Nauta

Out: Hunter Bryant, Matt Sokol

Rationale: This is another unit that will feature much of the same personnel from 2019, though the Lions will be looking for significant steps forward from its members. None will be more important than 2019’s first-round draft pick.

Hockenson flashed explosive potential in his professional debut last year, before fading out of the offensive game plan and missing the season’s last four games with an ankle injury. He seems like a prime candidate for a sophomore breakout, and the Lions would love if he could assert himself as the number two receiving option behind Golladay. His availability and progress will be pivotal elements of the Lions’ season.

James will look to put a lackluster 2019 behind him in which he totaled just 142 yards on 16 grabs with no touchdowns. It’s probably unrealistic to expect those numbers to rise too much, but some better blocking and more activity in the red zone would be welcome. Without it, his snaps could plummet.

It’s doubtful that the Lions would keep just two tight ends on the initial roster, and they won’t have the luxury of keeping four with six receivers in tow.

Bryant offers some intrigue in the passing game but he has struggled with injuries this summer. It’s largely why he went undrafted this past spring. He may not make it through waivers.

For the third inclusion, the Lions will have to choose between Bryant’s pass-catching potential and Nauta’s blocking ability. Nauta, despite his limited upside, wins out here largely due to Bryant’s persistent health concerns.