Detroit now knows who will be taking the field against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday.
After the Lions’ cuts, waiver wire acquisitions, and more cuts, the field of 53 is set… for now.
As is the case with every cut list, there are some (mostly) good cuts, some question marks, and a few scrappy players who just drew the short straw.
In case you don’t know which is which, here’s the entire cut list (via NFL.com), broken down into those three categories.
Brooks Bollinger - Nothing more than a placeholder while Drew Stanton and Daunte Culpepper were on the shelf for the final preseason game…unless Culpepper becomes trade bait later on this season, then he’s a phone call from being No. 3.
Ramzee Robinson - Had a good run for a 255th "Mr. Irrelevant" pick, and his play had actually picked up some since he was drafted. But he had really only gone from atrocious to below average, without much more upside.
Ikaika Alama-Francis - Too weak and small as a tackle. Too big and slow as an end. Never developed into a better player or improved his technique. Another second-round bust for Matt Millen.
Milford Brown - Veteran guard wasn’t expected to make a lot of noise, and didn’t. Nobody will even notice.
Keary Colbert - Single-handedly made every Lions quarterback look worse than they were.
Dropped passes, tipped passes (turned into interceptions), and falling down on routes (allowing interceptions) were all themes of Colbert’s preseason. Had he avoided the cut list, rabid fans with pitchforks and torches would have gathered outside Ford Field.
Zach Follett - I like the kid, you like the kid, and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham likes the kid. His attitude is right. The physical skills? Not so much.
That being said, he may have some future potential, and the Lions retained him on the practice squad. If they hadn’t, this would have been a "bad" cut.
Calvin Lowry - Quiet signing, quiet performance, quiet release.
Rufus Alexander - Would have gotten a second or third look on last year’s Lions team. This year, couldn’t find his niche with a very good Detroit linebacker corps.
Tristan Davis - I went on the record as saying he might have earned himself a look with his long touchdown run in Buffalo. I was right… but that look landed him on the practice squad.
Speed is always a good thing, but Davis isn’t ready yet. The Lions did well to leave him off the 53-man roster, and equally well to retain his rights.
Adam Jennings - Showed a flash or two, but not nearly enough. Three unimpressive catches in preseason is not good enough for a 5′9″ wide receiver.
Will stick around on the practice squad for now, perhaps to work his way up long-term.
The (Potentially) Bad
Dane Looker - Seemed versatile enough to earn a roster spot somewhere.
Was a decent receiver, where the Lions are thin. Was a decent kick/punt returner, where the Lions are undecided. Was an acceptable auxiliary kicker, with Hanson coming off surgery. Didn’t excel in any one area, but was adequate in several.
John Standeford - Came in last season due to injuries and trades as the No.2 receiver, and made some plays. Performed adequately in preseason as a possession guy, but lack of versatility and physical gifts likely spelled his end.
Stuart Schweigert - Was the team’s primary playmaker in the secondary throughout the preseason. Struggled in pass protection, but was an above-average run-blitzer.
With the weak state of the Lions’ safety corps, he deserved a shot. The acquisition of Ko Simpson from Buffalo likely slashed what would have been his roster spot.
Dan Gronkowski - At one point, Gronkowski and Will Heller were the team’s only healthy tight ends. Gronkowski made the most of his time, with four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown, and lots of good blocking.
Gronkowski got caught up in a tight end logjam, with 20th overall pick Brandon Pettigrew, new acquisition Heller, and oft-injured veteran utility man Casey Fitzsimmons ahead of him.
He landed on the practice squad this season, and should replace Fitzsimmons on the roster next season.
Chuck Darby - Not at all an expected cut, but absolutely a good one. Darby was a Marinelli guy, a smaller Tampa-Two tackle, and increasingly not a very good one as his age sapped his quickness.
Aveion Cason - A long overdue cut, and one that nobody will mourn except Cason himself.
Surprising because he has seemed unusually adept at avoiding Lions cuts when he should be one of the first. News of Cason being cut set off many a celebration in Detroit.
Keith Smith - There’s no question Smith was a below-average player, but it’s surprising to see him cut for the same reason as Cason: we’re used to seeing him stick around, regardless of bad play.
Fun fact: after this season’s cuts, the number of Millen-era draft picks still with the Lions (not including 2008) is six out of 51. Three of those (Drew Stanton, Manny Ramirez, Calvin Johnson) are from 2007, two (Backus, Dominic Raiola) are from 2001, and the other is Ernie Sims, the only draft pick from 2002-2006 to survive.
Shaun Smith - Perhaps the biggest surprise, as Smith was acquired with a starting role in mind. But head coach Jim Schwartz is from the Bill Belichick school of team management, and Smith’s attitude and unrestrained mouth didn’t mesh well with the coach.
The release of Smith, Darby, and Alama-Francis is a testament to the fast progression of Sammie Lee Hill.