After the draft and first wave of undrafted free agents, lets take a look at a potential lions roster.
QB: Is there any doubt here? Stafford is a beast, Shaun is one of the top back ups in the leauge and Moore our developmental project.
RB: With Reggie Bush we finally have a speed element that the Lions have been missing since best went down. Mikel is the powerback, Bell will do goal line and Theo Riddick will serve as a back up speed option to Bush in case of injury.
1. Reggie Bush
3. Joique Bell
4. Theo Riddick
WR: After Megatron things get shaky. Nate and Ryan are both coming off serious leg injuries and there's not much depth past that. Both seem to be on track to be ready for week one however, but we will see if they miss camp or aren't at 100%. Ryan showed great flashes when he was starting in place of Titus, and could eventually take Nates spot as #2 on the depth chart. 1-3 on the depth chart is pretty much predetermined at this point. This is where training camp will decide 4-6. We have Kris Durham (good potential, soft hands, just needs some coaching), Devin Thomas (mainly a special teams ace), Mike Thomas (just average), and draftee Corey Fuller (former track star). There are others on the roster, but these guys have the best shot at making the 53 man team. If week one was today, these are the guys I think would make the cut.
1. Calvin 'Megatron' Johnson
3. Ryan Broyles
4. Kris Durham
5. Corey Fuller
6. Devin Thomas
TE: This is going to be an important year for our tight ends. Brandon Pettigrew needs to finally live up to his first round draft status and stop dropping balls. He is a solid blocker, but has had trouble holding onto the ball as of late, both before and after the catch. Tony Schefler on the other hand seems to have reach his maximum potential as a great #2 TE and a solid spot starter. Both TEs are in the final year of their contract and I'm sure Detroit would love to resign both. At the #3 spot, there will be fierce competition between drafted TE Michael Williams and UDFA Joseph Fauria. Right now, Michael gets the edge simply because he was drafted, but this could change in training camp and the preseason. This is a very solid position for Detroit.
1. Brandon Pettigrew
2. Tony Schefler
3. Michael Williams
Interior Offensive Line: I group OG and OC together because we will see guards competing for the center position as well as their natural position. Rob Sims is the undisputed best offensive lineman on this Lions roster and will have no trouble occupying a starting guard spot. What about the other side though? With Peterman thankfully gone, there is an open spot at guard where 3 men will compete. Bill Nagy (former starter of the Cowboys), Rodney Austin (UDFA last year) and draftee Larry Warford are those 3 men. As of right now, Larry Warford is most likely going to be the starter at guard opposite Sims, with Rodney Austin and Bill Nagy as the back ups to Sims and Warford. That leaves OC to Bill Nagy and incumbent Dominic Raiola. Raiola's skills have been deteriorating as he's aged, and he's often looked like the worst lineman Detroit's had year round. Nagy has played OC for the Cowboys, but is coming off of a season ending ankle injury from last year and his current condition is most likely at less than 100%. I wouldn't count on Nagy getting the initial start, Raiola will win it with his experience at first. But don't be surprised to see Nagy take it later in the season. And finally, the only interior lineman I haven't discussed, Dylan Gandy. I wouldn't be surpised to see Dylan Gandy cut. He's a career back up who shouldn't start in any situation and he simply doesn't have any potential like these guys do.
1. Rob Sims and Larry Warford
2. Rodney Austin
3. Bill Nagy
1. Dominic Raiola
2. Bill Nagy
OT: This position is easily the biggest question mark on the team, with both starters leaving, and no free agency aquistions or draft picks coming in. Riley Reiff has the most talent and skill out of the three, and has started at LT before. Corey Hillard has been a back up for a few years here, and resigned for the oppourtunity to start. When Corey has played for injured players, he seemed to be not far behind Gosder Cherilus, and for what it's worth, is only rated 1 point lower than Gosder in Madden. Then there is Jason Fox, a fourth round pick a few years ago. He was touted as a first round talent, but fell because of an irregular heart beat. Obviously he has tons of potential, as do most first round talents, but Fox has been injured time and again in training camp, and if he can't stay health, this could be his last year in Detroit. If he can stay healthy, he'd be a great 6-foot-7 bookend on the right side to protect Stafford. I wasn't going to mention any UDFA, simply because most start out on the practice squad on week one, but LaAdrian Waddle could be the exception. He signed with the Lions only hours after the draft had ended. Looking at his NFL.com draft profile, this guy is a beast and has the potential to develop into a solid starter. He is 6-foot-6, and 332 pounds coming out of Texas Tech. He graded out as a borderline 3rd round draft choice, so I'm extremely surprised he fell this far. Competition for the two starting spots will be intense, and will last until after the final preseason game. I expect Riley to be the starter at LT, with LaAdrian as his back up. With an upset, I'm going to have Fox starting and Hillard as his back up. I feel Fox is better, but his injuries have hampered him from showing so. Also, like I said this could be Fox's last year so he will be the most motivated.
1. Riley Reiff
2. LaAdrian Waddle
1. Jason Fox
2. Corey Hillard
S: This is one of the few positions where the starters are already known. Louis Delmas and Glover Quinn will start at FS and SS respectively, the back ups are where things get interesting. Don Carey, Ricardo Silva, Tyrell Johnson, Amari Spievey and John Wendling will all compete for the final 2-3 roster spots. Don and Ricardo both started a few games when Delmas and Spievey went down, and showed that, while not starters, they could be quality back ups. There is also Amari Spievey who was arrested this offseason for abuse charges, as well as endangering a child. His girl friend started the physical fight, and Amari ended it (she was punching him multiple times before he acted by grabbing her by the neck). In any case, I do not like Amari very much, he can play the run, but he can't cover, which is what Detroit need. John Wendling has been a special teams ace for years, but he is also a competent back up at safety. Last is Tyrell, who we signed earlier this year. I don't see him having much of a chance to make the roster though. It's very hard to choose, but I feel Amari and either Don or Ricardo will get the initial nod, with John also making the roster for special teams. Don and Ricardo will compete, and the better player will make the roster
1. Louis Delmas and Glover Quinn
2. Amari Spievey and Don Carey/Ricardo Silva
3. John Wendling
CB: For years, this has been the worst position talent wise for the Lions. That all changed when they traded for Chris Houston, drafted 3 CBs last year, and another this year. Houston is becoming a shut down corner and will have no trouble taking a starting spot. The man opposite him will come down to 2nd year players, Jonte Green, Chris Greenwood and Bill Bentley and 2nd round pick this year, Darius Slay. Slay is a speedy cover man who slipped into the second round because of a meniscus tear. The tear is no big deal though, the injury itself is very common and has no long term implications. Jonte played well when forced into the starting role and has developed nicely. Bill struggled with pass interference penalties before a shoulder injury cut his season short. Chis Greenwood is a physical freak with a 42 inch vertical, elite speed and standing over 6 feet tall. However, he missed all of last year with an abdominal injury. There is also Ron Bartell, whos experience as well as height (6-foot-1) will help him make the last roster spot. As long as Darius is ready come camp, he will likely be put into the starting role, with Bill playing nickel, and Jonte, Ron and Chris as reserves.
1. Chris Houston and Darius Slay
2. Bill Bentley
3. Jonte Green
4. Chris Greenwood
5. Ron Bartell
1. Stephen Tulloch
2. Ashley Plamer/Travis Lewis
OLB: This position will have the most intense competition out of any position. Despite his new contract, I don't buy that Levy's starting position is solidified; however I do think he will win it. That will leave Ashley Palmer, Travis Lewis, Tahir Whitehead and draftee Brandon Hepburn all competing for the final starting spot. Travis and Tahir have mostly played special teams thus far, so we have little idea of their current skills on defense. We traded a 4th rounder to get Tahir last year in the 5th round, and Travis was selected in the 7th round of the same year. Brandon is from a smaller school, and looking at his 40 yard dash time, he will likely be a special teams player for his first year. That leaves Ashley Palmer. He has the most experience, and the coaching staff of the Lions have praised him all season. I feel the starting job will be his to lose going into camp. Travis could be a back up for both LB positions, or just MLB, we'll have to see how he does in camp.
1. DeAndre Levy and Ashley Palmer
2. Tahir Whitehead and Brandon Hepburn/Travis Lewis
DE: Yet another position with both starters gone with draft picks and back ups will compete. Jason Jones, a free agent acquisition can play both DT and DE. With the guys Detroit drafted though, I think he will be playing mostly as a rotational DT. That leaves draft picks Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor to compete with back ups Willie Young and Ronnell Lewis. Since Ziggy was the #5 pick, he's got a starting spot on the line no matter what, and I believe he will develop into a Pro Bowler. The final starting position will fall between Willie, Ronnell and Devin. Willie took a step back last year, instead of the leap forward we were looking for and Ronnell was just arrested for beating a man while drunk infront of a cop. So, I feel Devin, all 6-foot-7, 266 pounds of him will start. He has elite speed for his position at a 4.72 40 time and was a multi-year starter in the SEC. The defensive line of the future looks to be quite a hand full
1. Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor
2. Willie Young and Ronnell Lewis
DT: This position is simple. Suh is a beast when hes not stomping on Packers, Fairley is developing into a borderline elite player and both should call for double teams. Free agency aquisitions C.J Mosley (He separated Stafford's shoulder the 1st time) and Jason Jones will be their back ups.
2. Jason Jones and C.J Mosley
P: Our draftee in the 5th round, Sam Martin will most likely become the starter at punter. He is also projected to do kick offs, with an average of 69.0 yards. That would put Hester and Cobb 4-5 yards deep in the endzone instead of the 1 yard line, where Hanson often kicked.
1. Sam Martin
K: David Akers and Mr. Kickalicious himself will be competing for this spot, but in the end, David is the better player and Kickalicious will be brought back after David retires.
1. David Akers
LS: Our Pro Bowl long snapper, Don Muhlbach, will win the starting job, but camp competiton will be brought in to push him. He is on the wrong side of 30 and he may be slowing down a little.
1. Don Muhlbach
Thanks for reading everyone! Those are the 53 men I feel who will be on the roster on week one. Let me know in the comments if theres someone else who I should take into consideration.