Detroit Lions 53-man roster projection going into 2023 training camp

Here's a pre-training camp projection for what the Detroit Lions 53-man roster will look like heading into the 2023 season.
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Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions
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Defensive Line/Edge (9)
Aidan Hutchinson
James Houston
Alim McNeill
Isaiah Buggs
John Cominsky
Brodric Martin
Josh Paschal
Charles Harris
Romeo Okwara

The Lions suddenly look deep out on the edge, as they try to find someone to be a force opposite Hutchinson. Levi Onwuzurike is a big name cut here, as he faces an uphill climb to make the roster--due health or otherwise.

Linebackers (5)
Alex Anzalone
Jack Campbell
Malcolm Rodriguez
Derrick Barnes
Jalen Reeves-Maybin

In base nickel sets, Anzalone and either Campbell or Rodriguez will be the two starting linebackers. Barnes could push for a bigger role, and he will be important depth as he enters a critical season for himself. Reeves-Maybin is back with the team after signing this offseason, as a core special teamer.

Cornerbacks (5)
Cameron Sutton
Emmanuel Moseley
Jerry Jacobs
Will Harris
Starling Thomas

Moseley's recovery from a torn ACL last season invites the idea he could start training camp on the PUP list, but if that lasts to the start of the season it'd be surprising. Harris is a coaching staff favorite, and the UDFA Thomas makes the 53 here.

Safeties (5)
C.J. Gardner-Johnson
Tracy Walker
Kerby Joseph
Brian Branch
Ifeatu Melifonwu

Gardner-Johnson is in line to the the Lions' primary slot corner, but he's technically a safety by position label. Branch is similarly versatile, and Melifonwu came into the league as a corner before moving to safety last year. Walker is making excellent progress from his torn Achilles, which makes him unlikely to land on the PUP list to start camp and a virtual lock to be a full-go for Week 1.

In this scenario, Melifonwu indeed carries momentum from OTAs into July/August and makes the team.

Roster Count: 50

Specialists (3)
PK Michael Badgley
P Jack Fox
LS Jake McQuaide

Badgley benefited from simply not participating in a lackluster minicamp kicking competition between John Parker Romo and Riley Patterson. Unless someone of note is signed, which feels unlikely now, the incumbent stands to go unchallenged.

Fox is one of the best punters in the NFL, the Lions' kickoff guy and the holder for kicks. McQuaide was signed to compete with long snapper Scott Daly, and it would be a surprise if he didn't win the job.

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