Roster cuts are ever nearer and after Thursday night's impressive performance across the board, Detroit Lions coaches and general manager Bob Quinn have a near-impossible task ahead of them. Because the task is so daunting and because we all love roster predictions, we're going to hit you with three different 53-man roster predictions.
I'm the boss, so I go first.
|Players currently on roster: 75|
|QB Matthew Stafford||TE Eric Ebron||DE Ziggy Ansah||CB Darius Slay|
|QB Dan Orlovsky||TE Orson Charles||DE Devin Taylor||CB Nevin Lawson|
|TE Cole Wick||DE Wallace Gilberry||CB Quandre Diggs|
|DE Anthony Zettel||CB Johnson Bademosi|
|RB Ameer Abdullah||CB Darrin Walls|
|RB Theo Riddick||CB Alex Carter|
|RB Zach Zenner||DT Haloti Ngata|
|RB Dwayne Washington||OT Riley Reiff||DT Tyrunn Walker|
|OT Taylor Decker||DT Caraun Reid|
|OT Michael Ola||DT A'Shawn Robinson||S Glover Quin|
|FB Michael Burton||DT Khyri Thornton||S Rafael Bush|
|DT Kerry Hyder||S Tavon Wilson|
|WR Marvin Jones||S Miles Killebrew|
|WR Golden Tate||S Don Carey|
|WR TJ Jones||OG Laken Tomlinson|
|WR Anquan Boldin||OG Larry Warford||LB DeAndre Levy|
|WR Andre Roberts||OG Joe Dahl||LB Tahir Whitehead||K Matt Prater|
|OG Brandon Thomas||LB Josh Bynes|
|LB Kyle Van Noy||P Sam Martin|
|C Travis Swanson||LB Antwione Williams|
|C Graham Glasgow||LS Don Muhlbach|
I know, I know. You all wanted Jake Rudock on the final roster, but this team has too many needs at other positions to use a roster spot on a third-string quarterback. I know a lot of people don't believe Rudock will make it through waivers, but I absolutely think he will.
Practice squad: Jake Rudock
I know, I know. You wanted Jace Billingsley or Jay Lee on the final roster, and I do too. But how the Lions used their receivers in the final preseason game was the most telling. TJ Jones didn't even play, an indication that he's essentially a lock for the team. And while Andre Roberts did play, the Lions shuffled him to the sidelines pretty quickly after a couple of series with the faux first-team offense.
Billingsley and Lee balled out on Thursday, and they deserve to keep their NFL dreams alive. I think the Lions are going to try to get both back on the practice squad, but they'll be happy if they can grab one of the two.
Practice squad: Jace Billingsley, Jay Lee
Kudos to George Winn for fighting until the very end. Winn ran with a purpose in the fourth quarter against the Bills and managed to do a lot of damage. Sadly, I think his fate was already written.
Practice squad: George Winn
This was an easy call for me. Eric Ebron is moving well enough to believe he'll be ready for Week 1, and Cole Wick didn't play on Thursday, showing that he has a roster spot locked up. Andrew Quarless didn't exactly shine in the final preseason game, but he had a good block on Washington's long run. Quarless will essentially serve in a role similar to that of Brandon Pettigrew with the team after he returns from his suspension.
But I predict Quarless will spend the first two weeks on the suspended list, opening up the opportunity for another tight end to make the team. Enter: Orson Charles. Charles probably won't be part of the long-term plans for the Lions, but since the Lions are simply looking for someone to fill the role for two weeks, Charles' experience will come in handy.
Cornelius Lucas had all of the opportunities in the world to impress over the final two preseason games, but he continued to struggle at tackle. This prediction assumes that Michael Ola's injury isn't as bad as it may seem. The Lions also took a look at Joe Dahl at tackle against the Bills, so even if Ola isn't ready to go right away, the Lions have some insurance.
Practice squad: Corey Robinson
Everybody makes it! Newbie Brandon Thomas, you're the new Geoff Schwartz.
Not much has changed after Graham Glasgow jumped Gabe Ikard on the depth chart, although Glasgow's injury could complicate things.
Practice squad: Gabe Ikard
Here's where things get tricky. I just went back and forth on Brandon Copeland vs. Anthony Zettel three times. In the end, I saw Zettel improve every single game of the preseason while Copeland's inconsistencies seemed to stand out. However, I still had the two essentially tied for a roster spot. The thing working in Copeland's favor is that he is still practice squad eligible, and has spent two years on it before. He's more likely to make it through waiver, in my opinion, than Zettel is.
Practice squad: Brandon Copeland
No other position on the roster came with the set of difficult decisions that defensive tackle has. I do not envy the Lions' front office. In the end, the Lions have to keep six defensive tackles, especially if you consider Kerry Hyder, the best defensive player on the field on Thursday, a tackle. Hyder really plays both tackle and end, but really shined at end against the Bills. He and Khyri Thornton managed to somehow supplant Gabe Wright and Stefan Charles, two players who were near-locks before the start of training camp. I don't know if Wright will make it to a practice squad, but the Lions will try like hell to get him there.
Practice squad: Gabe Wright
Assuming Jon Bostic is headed to the injured reserve list, as Dave Birkett is reporting, that leaves the Lions with a pretty easy decision. Antwione Williams has continued to improve and looks more confident on the field. However, the Lions are left in a tough situation here, because Zaviar Gooden, Khaseem Greene and Jayson DiManche are all not eligible for the practice squad. Considering the nature of injuries at the linebacker position, this would leave the Lions a little vulnerable.
Alex Carter hasn't done much to earn a spot on the roster, but neither has anyone underneath him. Charles Washington had a breakup or two on Thursday, but it just hasn't been enough to unseat Carter. The Lions aren't very deep at the position, so Carter will get another shot to develop in practice.
Practice squad: Charles Washington
Don Carey is an interesting case. I have the Lions keeping 11 defensive backs just to keep Carey and his unique special teams talents on the roster. That may be a bit overkill at the position, considering Johnson Bademosi and Tavon Wilson both bring similar talents, but Wilson may be fighting for a starting job at this point, and Carey remains the Lions 2015 special teams MVP. I don't think Detroit will shed themselves of that talent this year.
Practice squad: Isaiah Johnson
And here's my 10-man practice squad prediction:
- QB Jake Rudock
- RB George Winn
- WR Jace Billingsley
- WR Jay Lee
- OT Corey Robinson
- C Gabe Ikard
- DE Brandon Copeland
- DT Gabe Wright
- CB Charles Washington
- S Isaiah Johnson