The Detroit Lions have done a spectacular job of finding undrafted free agent contributors over the past few years, thanks to
Brian Xanders their front office. A couple of recent examples are LaAdrian Waddle, Joseph Fauria, Cornelius Lucas and Mohammed Seisay. There are always plenty of UDFAs who aren't as fortunate to stick around, or perhaps they do, but are unable to receive any playing time.
In any case, some of these players become instant fan favorites, because let's face it... everyone loves to root for the underdog. Every year there is a Vanilla Gorilla, Kellen Moore Our Savior, Osprey or Kickalicious to latch onto. As fans, we love it. We feed off of it. It's what we do.
The Lions have had a UDFA on their active roster for three straight years now. This year, I believe there's a high probability that we'll see another UDFA or two make the final roster. A few candidates who have a good shot at making the team are Isaiah Johnson, Zach Zenner, Al Bond and Torrian Wilson. I picked these four names for a couple of different reasons.
Look at the Bonus
Over the past couple of years, the players with the biggest signing bonuses ended up making the team. In 2013, Joseph Fauria and LaAdrian Waddle received the two highest bonuses with $12,500 and $10,000, while Cornelius Lucas was given a sizable $20,000 bonus last year. This is obviously not an exact science or any guarantee as to which players are going to make the final roster or not, but it's a good starting point.
For the record, this year's list has Isaiah Johnson ($12,000) and Torrian Wilson ($11,000) with the two largest bonuses.
The most obvious factor in regards to guessing which UDFA will make the roster is determining which positions have the weakest amount of depth. If you ask me, I'd say the Lions need the most help adding depth to their trenches on both sides, and also the safety position. Unfortunately, they did not decide to bring in any defensive tackles or ends, so that's out of the question. But I believe that OGs Torrian Wilson and Al Bond have a legitimate shot at battling it out for one of the last spots on the interior line.
The Lions have their starters set with right guard Larry Warford, center Travis Swanson and either Manny Ramirez or rookie Laken Tomlinson fighting it out for the starting left guard spot -- making it four locks for the final roster. However, over the past six seasons, the Lions have gone with five interior linemen. That leaves Taylor Boggs, Braxston Cave, Darren Keyton, Bond and Wilson for a possible battle for the final spot.
Zach Zenner is the wild card for me. The Lions could use some extra talent at the running back position, but they're pretty set for the most part with the addition of Ameer Abdullah. It all depends on whether the Lions choose to keep four RBs and have Zenner and George Winn battle it out for the final spot.
Last but not least, we have the safeties. Over the last couple of seasons, the Lions have established their final roster with a total of five safeties. Right now, you can all but guarantee that Glover Quin, James Ihedigbo and Isa Abdul-Quddus are locks to make the roster. The final spot or two will be up for grabs between Don Carey, Taylor Mays, Nate Ness, Brian Suite and Isaiah Johnson. I really like Johnson's chances to make the team given the names that he's up against.
So with all of that being said, if I were to take a shot in the dark right now, I'm betting that Isaiah Johnson and Torrian Wilson are going to make the final 53 when it's all said and done. What say you?