An absurdly early Lions 53-man roster prediction

Gregory Shamus

With the 2014 NFL Draft in the books, let's take a stab at predicting the Detroit Lions' 53-man roster.

Considering the 2014 NFL Draft just ended and it's still the middle of May, we've got a lot of time left until the Detroit Lions have to trim down their roster to 53 players. There are OTAs and a mandatory minicamp coming up, and the Lions obviously still have training camp and the preseason before having to get down to 53 players. A lot could happen over the next few months, and right now we just don't have a ton of information about how the new coaching staff wants to assemble its first 53-man Lions roster.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I actually went ahead and made my first 53-man roster prediction of the year for the Lions. It's more of a complete guess than informed speculation at this point in the offseason, but if nothing else, the exercise helped highlight what camp battles might be the most intriguing for the Lions this summer. Check it out (my picks to make the team are in bold and underlined):

QB Matthew Stafford
QB Dan Orlovsky

QB James Franklin
QB Kellen Moore

RB Reggie Bush
RB Joique Bell
RB Mikel Leshoure
RB Theo Riddick

RB Montell Owens
RB Steven Miller

FB Jed Collins
FB Chad Abram

WR Calvin Johnson
WR Golden Tate
WR Ryan Broyles
WR Jeremy Ross
WR Kevin Ogletree

WR TJ Jones
WR Kris Durham
WR Corey Fuller
WR Patrick Edwards
WR Naaman Roosevelt
WR Andrew Peacock
TE Eric Ebron
TE Brandon Pettigrew
TE Joseph Fauria

TE Michael Williams
TE Jordan Thompson
TE Jacob Maxwell

OT Riley Reiff
OT LaAdrian Waddle
OT Corey Hilliard
OT Cornelius Lucas

OT J.B. Shugarts

OG Rob Sims
OG Larry Warford
OG Rodney Austin

OG D.J. Morrell
OG Alex Bullard

C Dominic Raiola
C Travis Swanson

C Darren Keyton
DE Ziggy Ansah
DE Jason Jones
DE Devin Taylor
DE Darryl Tapp
DE Larry Webster

DE Kourtnei Brown
DE George Johnson

DT Ndamukong Suh
DT Nick Fairley
DT C.J. Mosley
DT Caraun Reid

DT Vaughn Martin
DT Andre Fluellen
DT Corvey Irvin
DT Jimmy Saddler-McQueen
DT Xavier Proctor

LB DeAndre Levy
LB Stephen Tulloch
LB Kyle Van Noy
LB Ashlee Palmer
LB Tahir Whitehead
LB Cory Greenwood

LB Travis Lewis
LB Julian Stanford
LB Brandon Hepburn
LB Justin Jackson
CB Chris Houston
CB Darius Slay
CB Rashean Mathis
CB Chris Greenwood
CB Nevin Lawson
CB Jonte Green

CB Bill Bentley
CB Cassius Vaughn
CB Aaron Hester
CB Mohammed Seisay

S Glover Quin
S James Ihedigbo
S Don Carey
S DeJon Gomes
S Isa Abdul-Quddus

S Jerome Couplin
S Gabe Lynn

K Nate Freese
K Giorgio Tavecchio

P Sam Martin

LS Don Muhlbach

On offense, I started off by giving the Lions only two quarterbacks. In Indianapolis, Jim Caldwell only kept two quarterbacks until Peyton Manning suffered a neck injury, and I think the Lions would be better off going with Matthew Stafford and Dan Orlovsky and putting James Franklin on the practice squad. This would open up an extra spot to use on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps in the secondary.

Moving down the roster, Montell Owens was the odd man out at running back despite his special teams skills, and I gave Kevin Ogletree the edge over all of the other wide receivers. I could see TJ Jones making the roster if Ryan Broyles opens the season on the PUP list, and I actually gave some thought to putting Michael Williams on the 53-man roster and going with four wide receivers and four tight ends. However, I think Ogletree has the best chance of contributing as extra depth in the passing game right now.

For the offensive line, everything actually already seems pretty set. At offensive tackle, Cornelius Lucas appears to be the favorite to take that fourth spot based on the signing bonus he received, and the interior spots are all pretty obvious at this point. Rob Sims, Larry Warford and Dominic Raiola are the starters, and Rodney Austin and Travis Swanson are set to be the backups.

Shifting to defense, there were a lot more tough decisions simply because there are so many similar players. At linebacker, for example, you could make a case for Cory Greenwood, Travis Lewis and Julian Stanford to make the team for special teams purposes. I ultimately gave Greenwood the edge there, and I gave Caraun Reid the edge at defensive tackle over the other five guys, who all seem capable of making a strong case to be on the team. And at defensive end, I kept both Darryl Tapp and Larry Webster since Tapp could potentially get some work at outside linebacker as well. There is seemingly room for both players on this defense.

Moving to the secondary, cornerback was probably the toughest position to figure out. Assuming everybody is healthy, a top three of Chris Houston, Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis seems like a logical starting point, but it's anybody's guess after that. After going back and forth on the final three spots, I finally decided on Chris Greenwood, Nevin Lawson and Jonte Green. I think Greenwood has the potential to make a real impact in Teryl Austin's defense, and I made the tough call to have Lawson beat out Bill Bentley at nickelback. As for Green, based on his potential as an outside cornerback, I gave him the edge over Bentley and the others at the position.

As tough as cornerback was to predict, safety fell into place pretty easily. Glover Quin and James Ihedigbo are the starters, and Martin Mayhew has already said that he is comfortable with Don Carey, DeJon Gomes and Isa Abdul-Quddus serving as the backups and contributing on special teams. A guy like Jerome Couplin could change the dynamic at this position in training camp, but the top five seems pretty clear at this point.

Finally, there's not exactly much to predict on special teams. Punter Sam Martin and long snapper Don Muhlbach are the only players at their respective positions, and the Lions didn't spend a draft pick on kicker Nate Freese for him to not make the team. It's always possible that Giorgio Tavecchio could outperform him in training camp, but I'm going with the draft pick to win the kicker job.

What are your absurdly early predictions for the Lions' 53-man roster?

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