4. LB Tavante Beckett
The list of candidates among off-ball linebackers for this space is long, including Shaun Dion Hamilton, Josh Woods, Jarrad Davis and Anthony Pittman. But I’m going with Beckett, who played four games and 68 special teams snaps as an undrafted rookie last year.
The additions of Davis and Chris Board in free agency added depth to the Lions’ linebacking corps. Then they drafted Malcolm Rodriguez, who despite being a sixth-round pick should have a real shot to earn a roster spot. Additionally, seventh-round edge rusher James Houston started his career as an off-the-ball linebacker at Florida. Multiple incumbent off-the-ball linebackers may be gone. But Beckett is a bit more on the bubble than rest, if only based on internal sentiment we’ve heard for the others.
3. OLB/Edge Austin Bryant
Another spot where multiple Lions might fit (Jesse Lemonier, Rashod Berry, even possibly Julian Okwara), Bryant gets the push to the top of the roster bubble.
Given how bad Detroit’s pass rush was last year, that Bryant had 4.5 sacks with six quarterback hits and 10 pressures stands out. And he has had a solid role in each of his three seasons, playing more than 45 percent of snaps over the games he has played in each campaign.
Locking in five edge rushers to roster spots (Aidan Hutchinson, Charles Harris, Romeo Okwara, Josh Paschal and Julian Okwara), and giving the aforementioned Houston a tentative spot, Bryant might be among the Lions cuts in the late stages of the preseason.