Last year, it was all about a winning season and a shot at the preseason. Maybe they wanted more, but it was a revelation for us fans. The outlook this year is obviously a step further. Being a contender and a deep run into the playoffs. Based on how the roster was setup at the beginning of last seson and based on Schwartz's comments this morning about how the final roster will represent the top 53 talent and not the top 53 needs, here is my stab at it.
Quarter backs (We know that Stafford is not injury prone. He just had a couple of bad injuries in his first two seasons. Lets go with 2 QBs and get one on board if needs arises. Bottomline is if something happens to Stafford, the Lion's hopes crash with it. Hill is a decent backup and that exactly what he is. He cannot come in and win 10 games in a season or take you deep into the playoffs)
2) Shaun Hill
Running Backs (Bell is on the bubble here when Leshoure returns from his two game suspension unless they decide to keep 5 RBs in which case someone else from the DB/LB groups gets an axe. If Best returns after the first 6-8 games, it will be Bell, Williams or Logan that gets the boot unless they get an opportunity to play their way into and stay firmly in the 53. It totally depends on who manages to save their spot with their play in the first half of the season).
1) Kevin Smith
3) Stefan Logan
4) Joique Bell
Wide Receivers (The top 4 in the list is pretty straight forward. I am hoping they would carry 6 WRs. Stovall/Hughes makes it in as a reserve WR and a ST ace along with Osgood who is explicitely in for his ST play)
3) Titus Young
4) Ryan Broyles
Tight Ends (The easiest group to list down)
3) Will Heller
Offensive Linemen (The first 5 line men are pretty much fixed. Hilliard, Fox and Reiff get in as backup tackles. Fox and Reiff double as backup guards. Gerberry was signed up as a UDFA by the Lions in 2009 and has moved around the active player list and practice squad in his first 3 years here. I don't think he is eligible to spend any more time in the PS. So either he gets in as Raiola's backup or gets cut if he doesn't figure in the Lion's long term plans. They did keep him around for 3 years and developed him. I was hoping him to Raiola's eventual successor). Think about cutting the average OL age by 7 years with Reiff/Fox as tackles, Sims/Nagy as Guards and Gerberry as C. We are talking about an average age of 26 at the beginning of next season against a possible average of current starters at 32. That would rank our OL in the top 3 youngest in the league or may be the youngest.
1) Jeff Backus
3) Rob Sims
7) Jason Fox
8) Riley Reiff
Defensive Linemen (With Avril possible gone after this season and Vanden Bosch the year next, our biggest strength will have way too many holes. They seem to like what they see in Brown and since he is resurrecting his career, he can easily be signed cheap into a 2-3 year deal. Outside Avril and Vandenbosch, we have Jackson, Hill and Young hitting the UFA and RFA). Williams is playing out the last year of his contract. Depending on how they play this year, backup/succession plan becomes necessary. That said I hope they carry 10 on the DL.
4) Cliff Avril
5) Sammie Hill
6) Nick Fairley
8) Willie Young
9) Everette Brown
Linebackers (I really like Messina. I loved Silva and Mixon last year but Mixon got cut and has disappeared while Silva spent 3/4th of last season on the PS. I think its Hogue and/or Messina's turn this year. If Palmer gets the boot, Hogue gets in as a reserve LB)
1) DeAndre Levy
6) Travis Lewis
Defensive Backs (Greenwood in PUP will probably come in and replace a banged up DB by week 8. Green is PS bound)
1) Bill Bentley
2) Jacob Lacey
4) Erik Coleman
6) Louis Delmas (Still not on PUP so he keeps a roster spot till he is ready to play. Will probably start gane 3)
8) Justin Miller (More as a P/K returner and reserve CB)
9) Kevin Barnes or Ricardo Silva (Both of them are on bubble. Silva can go back to PS as he has another couple of years of eligibility left and Barnes can end up getting cut in the next two days. There is a strong possibility that one of them stays. I don't see both of them making the roster unless they decide to say good bye to the Phonz or Spievey)
10) Amari Spievey
11) Alphonso Smith
Special Teams (Not much of a debate here)
1) Jason Hanson
2) Don Muhlbach
3) Ryan Donahue (I really like Ben Graham. There are two issues with him though, two that cannot be rectified. 1) He is an out of the world punter when he gets to punt from 35/40 yard line. Between 0-40, he is average. 2) He doesn't have a great hang time. With Donahue, he has a big leg, is as good as graham and has upside with the youth on his side. Remember, he punted Nick Harris out of Detroit last preseason. The Lions did see his upside and talent which cannot change suddenly).
If the team composition doesn't change because of a new addition, this will probably be it. I read that Mayhew is looking for a scat back, if a trade or FA signing happens, that might change the whole equation and a couple of spots might look different. Have at it.