In the leadup to 2017 Detroit Lions training camp, we are going over the team’s entire roster and ranking each player from 90 to 1. The rankings are based on voting from five different staff members.
Today, we look at players ranked from 60 to 51. This is a key set of players, in that they are all very much on the roster bubble. To make the final 53-man roster, these players will need to impress during training camp.
60. WR Keshawn Martin (High: 54, Low: 69)
Martin was brought in this offseason as part of Detroit’s plan to replace 2016’s punt and kick returner Andre Roberts. However, we clearly do not have a lot of faith in Martin’s ability to win the job. Some of his main competitors, Jace Billingsley, TJ Jones and Jared Abbrederis, are all ranked ahead of him on this list.
59. RB Dwayne Washington (High: 53, Low: 64)
It’s a little surprising to see Dwayne Washington this low on the list, lower than possibly his greatest competition for the RB4 job, Matt Asiata. Washington’s ceiling is obviously a lot higher than Asiata’s, but he’ll have to show major improvement to justify a roster spot, especially since he’s still practice squad eligible.
58. DT Jeremiah Ledbetter (High: 53, Low: 63)
The Lions sixth-round pick has an uphill climb to make the Lions roster, even if their current set of defensive linemen is less than impressive. Ledbetter is insanely athletic for a defensive tackle and Detroit is hoping he could someday grow into an interior pass-rushing threat. His final year at Arkansas was very impressive, notching 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
57. S Alex Carter (High: 47, Low: 63)
Alex Carter is making a dramatic move to safety this offseason, but it appears there isn’t a lot of faith in him making the team. Not one Pride Of Detroit contributor ranked Carter above the likes of Don Carey or Miles Killebrew. As the fifth-ranked safety on the team, it’s hard to see him making the cut after the preseason.
56. T Cornelius Lucas (High: 45, Low: 58)
Detroit’s offensive tackle situation is completely in flux after the injury to Taylor Decker earlier in the offseason. At first, it appeared to be a good opportunity for Lucas to finally establish himself as a viable backup and replacement, but when Detroit went out and traded for Greg Robinson and signed Cyrus Kouandjio, it showed a huge lack of trust in Lucas.
55. QB Jake Rudock (High: 44, Low: 63)
This just goes to show you how little faith the staff here has in the Lions’ backup quarterback situation. Rudock is only ranked a little higher than his competition Brad Kaaya (No. 61), but both couldn’t crack the top-50 players on the roster. Please stay healthy, Matthew Stafford.
54. DT Jordan Hill (High: 41, Low: 61)
Jordan Hill is one of the more forgotten signings by the Lions. While Akeem Spence and Cornelius Washington were Detroit’s headline signings along the defensive line, Hill was quietly added a few weeks later. Hill had a decent three-year career with the Seahawks, but just couldn’t find a way to stay healthy. If Hill can keep his body right, there’s a chance he could not only make the team, but be a significant contributor in 2017.
53. RB Matt Asiata (High: 49, Low: 53)
Asiata was one of the rare players on this list that everyone seemed to have in the same spot. He is firmly on the Lions bubble, but everyone ranked him higher than Washington. Asiata certainly has the experience that Washington lacks, but don’t forget that the Lions signed Stevan Ridley last year, only to have him cut before their final preseason game.
52. CB Jamal Agnew (High: 47, Low: 57)
Rookie Jamal Agnew has a long ways to go before contributing as a cornerback on this roster. Detroit is currently loaded at the position. However, the fifth-round pick may have an easier way to contribute in 2017: kick and punt returner. Agnew was outstanding in that role at the University of San Diego, but that was against some very low competition:
Still, that sub-4.4 speed is hard not to get excited about.
51. DT Akeem Spence (High: 34, Low: 69)
There is wild disagreement about Akeem Spence in the Pride Of Detroit staff. I personally have him ranked at 34, while Jerry Mallory had him all the way at 69.
It’s easy to see where the confusion comes from. Spence was one of the lowest-rated players in 2016 according to Pro Football Focus. However, the Lions went out and threw a three-year, $9 million contract at him this offseason.
Spence comes to the Lions after a four-year stint with the Buccaneers. In Tampa, Spence started 30 games and made 96 tackles, including 5.5 sacks. With Detroit, Spence is a near roster lock, but whether he’ll be a success is another story.