Last year, you, the Pride Of Detroit faithful, voted on which undrafted free agent had the best shot at making the final 53-man roster and you were correct by giving Zach Zenner 45 percent of the votes. Give yourselves a nice pat on the back because you earned it.
If there was one thing that former general manager Martin Mayhew and co. was good at, it was finding UDFAs that were capable of providing depth and sometimes filling in as a starter and performing well. Whether it was LaAdrian Waddle, Joseph Fauria or Cornelius Lucas, those guys made a positive impact (albeit for a short period of time) and you never know which UDFA is going to step on that field and earn his way onto the roster.
The Detroit Lions have had at least one UDFA make the roster for four straight years now and there is a great chance that this year will be no different. Let's take a look at some of the players that have a legitimate shot at making the final 53-man roster.
The list of bonuses for UDFAs has not fully been released yet, but we do know that both offensive tackle Chase Farris and tight end Cole Wick have received $10,000 signing bonuses and they don't usually get much bigger than that. That leads me to believe that the Lions have high hopes for these two, and their chances are near the top of the list.
In the past, those who receive the highest signing bonuses are normally the guys that have the best chances at sticking around. For instance, Joseph Fauria and LaAdrian Waddle received the largest bonuses in 2013 ($12,500 and $10,000 respectively), while Cornelius Lucas was given a hefty $20,000 bonus two years ago. Last year's largest bonus went to safety Isaiah Johnson, who was signed off of their practice squad in mid-November.
Bonuses let us make an educated guess on which UDFAs the Lions value the most, but it's obviously not the biggest factor. Positions with the weakest amount of depth are going to open up the biggest opportunities and there is no weaker position for the Lions right now in terms of depth than the wide receiver position. This gives guys like Jay Lee and Quinshad Davis an opportunity to challenge someone like Corey Fuller and Andre Caldwell for one of the final WR spots.
It also helps that Lee and Davis are taller receivers, as the Lions are in desperate need to add some size to the position. Lee is a personal favorite of mine, and I believe he could end up being the favorite out of him, Davis, Fuller and Caldwell when it's all said and done.
With the defensive end position being so weak right now, the Lions went out and signed Georgia's James DeLoach and Northwestern's Deonte Gibson. Both have a similar body type (short and stocky), which leads me to believe that the Lions want to add some competition for the closed-end role that has been left open by the departure of Jason Jones.
Don't be surprised to see former Maryland guard, Andrew Zeller, impress folks during camp either. His athleticism is off the charts.
The #Lions signed UDFA OG Andrew Zeller, whose #RAS is very, very good. Elite for both guard and tackle, in fact. pic.twitter.com/uDimsLURZo— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 1, 2016