With one preseason game in the books for the Detroit Lions, we are starting to get a better idea of what their 53-man roster may look like. A lot could happen and change our view of the 53-man roster in the final three preseason games, but we have enough information right now to take an educated stab at who the Lions will go into the season with. First, let's examine the offense.
Cut: Kellen Moore
As long as I can remember, the Lions have kept at least three quarterbacks on their roster. However, as of right now Kellen Moore does not appear to be worthy of one of the 53 spots on the team. What's more, based on his play against the Cleveland Browns, at this time I do think the Lions would be able to clear him through waivers and sign him to the practice squad. This could change if he improves in the coming weeks, but for now I have Moore being cut along with R.J. Archer.
Suspended to start season: Mikel Leshoure
PUP list to start season: Jahvid Best
Cut: Stephfon Green
The running back position for the Lions is quite complicated right now. Mikel Leshoure will be on the 53-man roster come Week 3, but to start the season he will be suspended and won't account for a roster spot. Also, I don't think Jahvid Best will be taking up a roster spot to start the season. All signs point to him beginning the regular season on the PUP list and missing at least the first six games. Considering he still hasn't been cleared from a concussion that happened last October, I see no reason why anything will change in the next two weeks.
I don't expect the Lions to go into the season with only four running backs. They could keep Stephfon Green on the active roster until Leshoure returns, but I expect the Lions to sign a free agent. They very well may wait to sift through the players who get cut to find somebody to bring in, but I foresee them making a move before then. Unless Best gets cleared soon, the Lions are going to have to act to add depth to this position, which is why I have a player currently not on the team (someone like Ryan Grant, for example) ultimately making the 53-man roster.
Keep (0): None
Cut: James Bryant
I would love to see the Lions keep a fullback around as a lead blocker, but in all likelihood, Bryant will end up on the practice squad. That way he can help the Lions prepare for teams that use fullbacks. Chances are he wouldn't be used enough to be worth a spot on the 53-man roster, especially considering Will Heller can line up in the backfield if the Lions do want to use a fullback in a game every now and then.
By not keeping three quarterbacks, I decided to spend the extra roster spot on a sixth wide receiver. The top four is set, and at this point I honestly believe the top six is set as well if you add in Maurice Stovall and Patrick Edwards. Should the Lions only keep five receivers, then they would have to pick between Stovall and Edwards in this scenario. With only two quarterbacks, however, they would have the luxury of keeping both of them. Stovall is a big contributor on the special teams cover units, and Edwards could contribute as a receiver and/or returner. To me, they have the edge, and if six receivers make the initial 53-man roster, I see both of them making the team.
This position is set barring an injury. Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler are the top two tight ends, and Will Heller is a very reliable and versatile player. I don't think he's going anywhere.
Cut: Jonathan Scott
The Lions haven't kept five tackles before in the Jim Schwartz era, but there are five guys deserving of a spot on the 53-man roster. We know Jeff Backus isn't going anywhere, and Gosder Cherilus is safe as long as he's the starting right tackle. Riley Reiff is a lock to make the team, and both Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard have done a good job so far during training camp. By shifting guys like Reiff, Fox and Hilliard around to multiple positions, the Lions can get away with keeping five tackles on the team, especially with somebody like Reiff getting more reps at guard going forward.
Injured reserve: Bill Nagy
If the Lions decide against keeping six receivers, that extra roster spot on offense very well may go to an offensive guard. The Lions could certainly use more depth behind the starters, and I could see Jacques McClendon or Rodney Austin playing their way onto the roster. Since I did go with six receivers, there's only room for the two starters at guard. (Bill Nagy, who was just claimed off waivers after having ankle surgery, will likely be placed on injured reserve at the end of camp.)
Cut: Dan Gerberry
Perhaps the player with the best chance of making the team if the Lions go with two quarterbacks and five receivers is Dan Gerberry. He's no longer eligible for the practice squad, and he has the ability to play both guard and center. That versatility is important, and I could see the Lions keeping him around to go along with Dylan Gandy, who is a similar player.
Changes From The Last Prediction (June 18)
Added to the 53-man roster: RB Free Agent, WR Maurice Stovall
Removed from the 53-man roster: QB Kellen Moore, RB Jahvid Best (PUP list)