Before the Detroit Lions officially kick off their 2016 season, let's take one last look at the current roster and make some predictions. My last version of a 53-man roster prediction was made before the Lions' training camp session, so a lot has changed since then. Players have climbed up the depth chart, others have failed to make an impression, while a few are gone altogether.
|Players currently on roster: 90|
|QB Matthew Stafford||TE Eric Ebron||DE Ziggy Ansah||CB Darius Slay|
|QB Dan Orlovsky||TE Matthew Mulligan||DE Devin Taylor||CB Nevin Lawson|
|QB Jake Rudock||TE Cole Wick||DE Wallace Gilberry||CB Quandre Diggs|
|TE Brandon Pettigrew (PUP)||DE Brandon Copeland||CB Alex Carter|
|RB Ameer Abdullah||TE Adam Fuehne||DE Anthony Zettel||CB Johnson Bademosi|
|RB Stevan Ridley||TE Orson Charles||DE Deonte Gibson||CB Darrin Walls|
|RB Theo Riddick||TE Ben McCord||DE Quanterus Smith||CB Crezdon Butler|
|RB Zach Zenner||CB Keith Lewis|
|RB George Winn||OT Riley Reiff||DT Haloti Ngata||CB Adairius Barnes|
|RB Dwayne Washington||OT Taylor Decker||DT Tyrunn Walker||CB Rashaad Reynolds|
|OT Michael Ola||DT Caraun Reid||CB Charles Washington|
|FB Michael Burton||OT Cornelius Lucas||DT A'Shawn Robinson|
|OT Corey Robinson||DT Khyri Thornton||S Glover Quin|
|WR Marvin Jones||OT Luke Marquardt||DT Gabe Wright||S Rafael Bush|
|WR Golden Tate||OT Chase Farris||DT Stefan Charles||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 Andre Caldwell||OG Geoff Schwartz||LB DeAndre Levy|
|WR Corey Fuller (PUP)||OG Joe Dahl||LB Tahir Whitehead||K Matt Prater|
|WR Andre Roberts||LB Josh Bynes||K Devon Bell|
|WR Jeremy Kerley||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 Alex Chisum||LB Khaseem Greene||LS Don Muhlbach|
|LB Chi Chi Ariguzo||LS Jimmy Landes|
|LB Zaviar Gooden|
OUT: QB Jake Rudock
I never expected Rudock to compete for a backup spot this year. However, I didn't expect him to be this far away from being ready for the NFL. Camp reports have Rudock way behind Dan Orlovsky and at this point, I'm not worried about Rudock getting signed to another team's 53-man roster if the Lions decide to part ways. Rudock should be an easy sign to the practice squad and that's where he belongs in 2016.
IN: WR Anquan Boldin, WR Jay Lee
OUT: WR Jeremy Kerley, WR Andre Caldwell
The signing of Anquan Boldin made cutting Andre Caldwell easy, especially considering Caldwell may have some sort of hand injury. Jay Lee has been amazingly impressive during training camps (as Alex Reno predicted), while Jeremy Kerley has been a ghost, buried on the depth chart beneath TJ Jones.
IN: TE Matthew Mulligan
OUT: TE Brandon Pettigrew
I'm assuming Eric Ebron will be okay here, and therefore the Lions will continue to keep Brandon Pettigrew on the PUP list into the regular season. Matthew Mulligan will take Pettigrew's place as the best healthy blocking tight end on the roster, while Cole Wick easily makes the team.
IN: DT Gabe Wright, DT Khyri Thornton
OUT: DE Anthony Zettel, DT Stefan Charles
Instead of going with five defensive ends and five defensive tackles, I now have the Lions carrying six defensive tackles and just four defensive ends. There are several reasons for this. First, the Lions have an abundance of talent at the defensive tackle, and it just doesn't make sense to give up on a guy like Gabe Wright in his second season. Also, the Lions haven't been afraid to move around some of their defensive tackles to the outside. As with much of this roster, the Lions value versatility, and that's something they have a surplus of at defensive tackle.
Khyri Thornton has had one of the most surprising performances in camp and it's enough to push veteran Stefan Charles off the roster. Sixth-round pick Anthony Zettel is a casualty of focusing on the interior line, but Detroit would try to get him back on the practice squad roster. Even though Wright has been extremely quiet during camp, it is just too costly of a cut for the Lions at this stage in his career.
No changes at linebacker: Antwione Williams was going to get cut, but with Jon Bostic's severe-looking injury, Williams sneaks in.
IN: Don Carey
With the extra space opened up from keeping only two quarterbacks, I have the Lions keeping a fifth safety. Though it's a bit unconventional, Carey brings undeniable special teams talents and the Lions have to find a way to keep him around. The Lions are also going to have at least five defensive backs on the field for the majority of defensive snaps, so an extra body in the secondary is never a bad thing.
IN: Don Muhlbach
OUT: Jimmy Landes
The Lions cannot keep a long-snapper simply because they drafted him. By almost all accounts at training camp, Muhlbach has been the more consistent snapper, and even though he probably doesn't move around as well as the 23-year-old Landes, Muhlbach has been the shining example of reliability throughout his career.