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Detroit Lions roster prediction: Pre-training camp edition

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Training Camp has started, it's time to look at the roster once more before we get a clear look at the players in practice and guess who makes the team.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions decided to finally make a big splash in free agency, signing former Pro Bowl wide receiver and #81 alum Anquan Boldin to a one-year contract. That will obviously affect the dynamic at wide receiver, but since we’ve also received the PUP list for preseason we have a good idea of how the roster is going to start shaping up. As we near closer and closer to the preseason with training camp upcoming, it’s time to look at the possible 53-man roster and see if anything new shakes out.

Players currently on roster: 53
QB Matthew Stafford TE Eric Ebron DE Ziggy Ansah CB Darius Slay
QB Dan Orlovsky TE Cole Wick DE Devin Taylor CB Nevin Lawson
QB Jake Rudock TE Matthew Mulligan DE Wallace Gilberry CB Quandre Diggs
TE Brandon Pettigrew (PUP) DE Anthony Zettel CB Alex Carter
RB Ameer Abdullah TE Adam Fuehne DE Brandon Copeland CB Johnson Bademosi
RB Theo Riddick TE Orson Charles DE Deonte Gibson CB Darrin Walls
RB Zach Zenner TE Ben McCord DE Quanterus Smith CB Crezdon Butler
RB George Winn CB Keith Lewis
RB Dwayne Washington OT Riley Reiff DT Haloti Ngata CB Adairius Barnes
RB Stevan Ridley OT Taylor Decker DT Tyrunn Walker CB Ian Wells
OT Michael Ola DT Caraun Reid CB Charles Washington
FB Michael Burton OT Cornelius Lucas DT A'Shawn Robinson
OT Corey Robinson (PUP) DT Stefan Charles S Glover Quin
WR Marvin Jones OT Luke Marquardt DT Gabe Wright S Rafael Bush
WR Golden Tate OT Chase Farris DT Khyri Thornton S Tavon Wilson
WR TJ Jones DT Kerry Hyder S Miles Killebrew
WR Anquan Boldin OG Laken Tomlinson DT Louis Palmer S Don Carey
WR Jay Lee OG Larry Warford S Isaiah Johnson
WR Jeremy Kerley OG Geoff Schwartz LB DeAndre Levy
WR Andre Caldwell OG Joe Dahl LB Tahir Whitehead K Matt Prater
WR Corey Fuller (PUP) LB Josh Bynes K Devon Bell
WR Andre Roberts C Travis Swanson LB Kyle Van Noy
WR Quinshad Davis C Graham Glasgow LB Antwione Williams P Sam Martin
WR Jace Billingsley C Gabe Ikard LB Jon Bostic
WR Ryan Spadola LB Khaseem Greene LS Jimmy Landes
LB Dominique Tovell LS Don Muhlbach
LB Zaviar Gooden

Quarterbacks

Active Roster: Matthew Stafford, Dan Orlovsky, Jake Rudock

Cut: None

I gotta tell you, Jake Rudock did not make this final roster because I think he’s going to earn himself that 53rd spot. I included him because it was tough to find 53 players I thought would make it to this roster, and when I got down to the final few it came down to which game day inactive would be carried instead of cut. I’m confident that Rudock would clear waivers if cut, but at least until I see him in camp he’s going to make the final roster.

Running backs/Fullback

Active Roster: Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, George Winn, Michael Burton

Practice Squad: Dwayne Washington

Cut: Stevan Ridley

This was a tough call to make, but I’m going to go with my gut and drop Stevan Ridley. It’s a signing I view as a mistake, but a cheap one to move on from. It’s true that Ridley comes with $250k guaranteed, but after watching him in action the past couple of years, I don’t see how he earns a spot over the much better Zach Zenner or special teams ace George Winn. Yes, I’m aware Zenner only had limited action in 2015 as a pro, but this is more of a case where Ridley made a case for being below Zenner than Zenner making a case to be above. I see this coming down to preseason performance and Zenner beating Ridley handily. With Winn the only real power back on the roster and leagues ahead of Ridley on special teams, this is one I think the Detroit Lions wash their hands of early. The talented Dwayne Washington continued to show his ball control issues in earlier camps and heads to the practice squad.

Tight end

Active Roster: Eric Ebron, Cole Wick, Matthew Mulligan

PUP/IR: Brandon Pettigrew, Timothy Wright

Practice Squad: Adam Fuehne

Cut: Ben McCord, Orson Charles

Yes, despite one Detroit beat writer making a case that Ben McCord is better than Eric Ebron, he doesn’t make the final roster or practice squad. With Brandon Pettigrew probably staying on the PUP to return later in the season, camp standout Cole Wick and blocking specialist Matthew Mulligan were easy choices. Adam Fuehne hasn’t had a lot of hype, but some praise of his was being drowned out by Cole Wick, so I’m giving him a nod.

Wide receiver

Active Roster: Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin, TJ Jones, Jay Lee

PUP: Corey Fuller

Practice Squad: Quinshad Davis

Cut: Jace Billingsley, Andre Caldwell, Jeremy Kerley, Andre Roberts, Ryan Spadola

This group has seen a lot of shuffling, which we’ve spoken about ad nauseum. Jones and Tate are locks, and with Boldin’s contract he becomes one as well. That leaves only two spots to be fought over and I think the team fills those spots with one every-way player (Jones) and one role player (Lee). The addition of Boldin made Kerley redundant, and I don’t think his generally poor ST play is enough to get him back on the roster over a more talented player in Jones despite Jones not being very good on ST either. For role player, it came down to the three-route player Jay Lee and red zone specialist Quinshad Davis. The Lions gave Davis a good signing bonus to come to camp, but I feel he goes to the practice squad. The Andres will put up a good fight, and while Andre Roberts has a pretty good shot to beat out Jones for a spot I think this is going to come down to comfort and Stafford has a rapport with Jones.

Offensive line

Active Roster (Starters): Taylor Decker, Laken Tomlinson, Travis Swanson, Larry Warford, Riley Reiff

Active Roster (Backups): Graham Glasgow, Geoff Schwartz, Joe Dahl, Cornelius Lucas, Michael Ola

Practice Squad: Chase Farris

Cut: Gabe Ikard, Luke Marquardt, Corey Robinson

This was a tough group to pick due to the lack of talent on the outside. Sure, it’s easy to put Reiff and Decker there, and Ola isn’t a hard choice since he started last season. When you really look, though, it’s not that easy. Michael Ola is the smallest OT in the NFL (that’s a fact). He was converted from guard, where he had been training since making the jump to the NFL, and his slightly above average PFF grade isn’t enough to make me confident he can start at OT long term in an emergency. After Ola, there’s nobody. I ended up keeping Cornelius Lucas, who probably wouldn’t make any other team in the NFL. At interior offensive line, Swanson ends up getting the nod at center over third-round pick Graham Glasgow, while veteran swing player Geoff Schwartz just makes the roster due to his versatility.

Defensive end

Active Roster: Ezekiel Ansah, Devin Taylor, Wallace Gilberry, Anthony Zettel

Cut: Brandon Copeland, Deonte Gibson, Quanterus Smith

This isn’t a very strong position outside of the starters, but it was an easy group to flesh out. Wallace Gilberry is the most versatile DE on the roster, where Brandon Copeland has more upside is solely an open end rusher and was converted from LB. Then we keep Anthony Zettel and we’re set. I considered keeping an extra DE (Copeland), but couldn’t make it fit in the end.

Defensive tackle

Active Roster: Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker, A’Shawn Robinson, Caraun Reid, Stefan Charles

Practice Squad: Gabe Wright

Cut: Louis Palmer, Kerry Hyder, Khyri Thornton

Another group without much controversy, I kept Ngata and Walker as starters with Robinson their primary backup. I struggled between Reid, Charles, and Wright. I know most view Reid as a lock and Wright as an easy cut, but I don’t think it’s going to be that easy, especially with Charles muddying the water. Ultimately this group is going to come down to experience and Reid gets the nod for that along with Charles. Gabe Wright moves on to the practice squad if he clears waivers, though I highly doubt he makes it through. The Patriots showed interest in Wright when Bob Quinn was there, so it’s possible he has a different perspective that we fans have, but until I see it, he’s cut.

Linebacker

Active Roster: DeAndre Levy, Tahir Whitehead, Kyle Van Noy, Josh Bynes, Antwione Williams

Practice Squad: Dominique Tovell

Cut: Jon Bostic, Zaviar Gooden, Khaseem Greene

What was difficult with this position was trying to keep a sixth LB but not being able to. Jon Bostic was traded for, but there isn’t really any incentive to keeping him. He’s primarily a MLB who can play a little Sam, but that’s why Antwione Williams was drafted. Zaviar Gooden is one of the most athletic players on the roster, but I have trouble seeing him beat out Josh Bynes for that swing backup spot. The athletic rookie Dominique Tovell gets the nod for the practice squad despite being brought in only just before training camp.

Cornerback

Active Roster: Darius Slay, Alex Carter, Quandre Diggs, Nevin Lawson, Johnson Bademosi, Darrin Walls

Practice Squad: Keith Lewis, Ian Wells

Cut: Adairius Barnes, Crezdon Butler, Charles Washington

I wanted to ensure the team carried 10 defensive backs on the roster but came into this thinking that would be five corners and five safeties. Instead, I ended up keeping six corners. Slay and Diggs are locks and I believe Carter is as well. Bademosi gets the nod due to his special teams experience. While we’ve talked about whether Nevin Lawson makes the roster or not, I feel he ultimately makes the team, though he is joined by his chief competition Darrin Walls. Versatility is the name of the game, with Lawson and Walls playing inside and out while Bademosi can play both corner and safety.

Safety

Active Roster: Glover Quin, Rafael Bush, Tavon Wilson, Miles Killebrew

Practice Squad: Isaiah Johnson

Cut: Don Carey

Long time swing DB and inconsistent special teamer Don Carey finally sees his tenure end with the Detroit Lions as he’s replaced by Johnson Bademosi. Not really much else to say here, despite being the weakest position on the roster it was easy to put together.

Specialists

Active Roster: Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Jimmy Landes

Cut: Don Muhlbach, Devon Bell

Not much to add with this group. The Muhldozer never gets to see Detroit reach the big game as a Lion, but his impact is felt with the inclusion of Jimmy Landes whom the Detroit Lions thought was a good enough long snapper to draft despite having Muhlbach rostered.

Summary

That ends your 53-man roster. 26 defensive players, 24 offense, 3 specialists. So far, we have only two that will be carried on PUP and one that will be on IR. Obviously those numbers will probably change before the preseason starts and almost certainly before it ends. What do you think of the roster? Any changes you would make? Let us know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MathBomb.