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2016 NFL Draft: State of the Lions' roster going into the draft

A review of the Lions' depth chart and remaining needs.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Though the Detroit Lions used the offseason well to fill in some gaps in the roster, they have a chance to make some more improvements this week via the 2016 NFL Draft. Below is a quick look at the depth chart as it currently stands.

Quarterbacks and Backs

QB (2): Matthew Stafford, Dan Orlovsky
RB (5): Ameer Abdullah, Stevan Ridley, Theo Riddick, George Winn, Zach Zenner
FB (1): Michael Burton

General manager Bob Quinn has stated that it is "good football business" to draft a quarterback every other year, so it would not be a surprise for the Lions to add a quarterback in one of the later rounds. With Dan Orlovsky as the only backup on the roster, this would make a lot of sense.

Meanwhile, the recent addition of Stevan Ridley makes it unlikely for Detroit to draft another running back to compete with the five backs already on the roster. Similarly, there is no need for the Lions to select another fullback after drafting Michael Burton in the fifth round last year.

Receivers and Tight Ends

WR (8): Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, TJ Jones, Corey Fuller, Jeremy Kerley, Corey Washington, Ryan Spadola, Austin Willis
TE (6): Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew, Tim Wright, Jordan Thompson, Casey Pierce, Matthew Mulligan

Outside of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, none of the other receivers currently on the roster are too encouraging. Jeremy Kerley could bring some production from the slot, but the rest of the receiving corps has seen limited success at most. While it is not the most pressing concern, the Lions might want to add a receiver at some point in the draft.

The Lions are pretty short for tight end depth behind Eric Ebron, despite having six players signed to contracts. Brandon Pettigrew and Tim Wright are adequate for the time being, but going forward the outlook at the position is very thin.

Offensive Line

C (3): Travis Swanson, Gabe Ikard, Braxston Cave
OG (4): Larry Warford, Laken Tomlinson, Geoff Schwartz, Darren Keyton
OT (6): Riley Reiff, Michael Ola, Cornelius Lucas, Corey Robinson, Lamar Holmes, Tyrus Thompson

Tackle is one of the Lions’ biggest needs, particularly on the left side. Riley Reiff is only under contract for one more season, and he might be better off on the right end of the line should a left tackle be added. Either way, drafting a tackle is a must for Detroit.

The interior of the line is in slightly better shape, despite lackluster 2015 performances from Larry Warford and Travis Swanson. The Lions currently have modest depth at both guard and center, but drafting another interior lineman would be not be a bad idea.

Defensive Line

DT (7): Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker, Caraun Reid, Gabe Wright, Khyri Thornton, Stefan Charles, Kerry Hyder
DE (3): Ezekiel Ansah, Devin Taylor, Wallace Gilberry

The Lions chose to bring back Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker as the starting defensive tackles, but there are still question marks behind them. It is possible that Caraun Reid and Gabe Wright could develop into quality players, but adding another starting-caliber tackle is probably the way to go.

The depth at defensive end is essentially non-existent, so the Lions absolutely need to target this position going into the draft. Ideally, they would find a player who could step in right away opposite Ezekiel Ansah, but at the very least they need to find someone who can meaningfully contribute in 2016.


OLB (8): DeAndre Levy, Tahir Whitehead, Kyle Van Noy, Brandon Copeland, Jerry Franklin, Khaseem Greene
MLB (2): Josh Bynes, Stephen Tulloch

The Lions are in decent position at the outside linebacker spots after re-signing Tahir Whitehead, assuming DeAndre Levy will be healthy in 2016. More depth would not hurt, though, as there is a bit of a drop-off after the two starters.

Detroit should look at drafting a middle linebacker, as the Stephen Tulloch mystery continues. It would be a surprise if Tulloch was still on the roster by the start of the season, and while Josh Bynes played well in 2015, bringing in another middle linebacker would be wise.

Defensive Backs

CB (7): Darius Slay, Quandre Diggs, Nevin Lawson, Alex Carter, Crezdon Butler, Johnson Bademosi, Darrin Walls
S (5): Glover Quin, Rafael Bush, Don Carey, Isaiah Johnson, Tavon Wilson

Cornerback is another spot where the Lions have a decent amount of bodies but could make an improvement. The team is probably set with Quandre Diggs and Nevin Lawson, but adding another top corner to pair with Darius Slay could be tempting.

Glover Quin is locked in at free safety position and Rafael Bush was signed to fill in the gap at strong safety. The secondary is not going to be the Lions' top draft priority, but the idea of adding another safety or cornerback is reasonable given the current depth.


K (1): Matt Prater
P (2): Sam Martin, Kyle Christy
LS (1): Don Muhlbach

There is no need for the Lions to add any kickers, punters, or long snappers during the draft, as they are all set with Matt PraterSam Martin, and Don Muhlbach. Punter Kyle Christy was signed earlier in the week, but he is nothing more than another leg for camp.

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