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Top Detroit Lions players of 2017: 80-71

Counting down the next 10 players on the Detroit Lions’ 90-man roster.

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our countdown of the top 90 players on the Detroit Lions. Remember, these rankings are based on the averaged opinion of five Pride Of Detroit staff members. Today we’ll tackle players 80 to 71.


80. WR Michael Rector (High: 71, Low: 87)

Michael Rector was one of the highest ranked undrafted free agents on this list, and for good reason. The Stanford receiver was a huge standout at this year’s NFL Combine, especially with his flashy 4.42 40-yard dash time.

Rector has virtually no chance to make the roster, but an impressive training camp could land him a spot on the practice squad.

79. OL Matt Rotheram (High: 71, Low: 85)

You may not have known it, but Matt Rotheram has been a Detroit Lion for nearly a calendar year now. Since late October, the 25-year-old offensive lineman has taken up a spot on Detroit’s practice squad. Rotheram has spent time on the Eagles and Packers, but has yet to find his way onto an active roster on gameday.

78. T Storm Norton (High: 75, Low: 87)

Storm Norton may be the most popular UDFA on the team. Not only is he a local(ish) guy, playing his collegiate ball in Toledo, but at 6-foot-8, 311 pounds, he’s a monster on the field. Those attributes alone are worth of a tryout with any NFL team, but considering Toledo’s offense is far more simplified than an NFL offense, Norton is purely a project at this point. He’s got practice squad written all over him.

77. DE Jeremiah Valoaga (High: 74, Low: 84)

The Lions had their eyes on Valoaga throughout the draft process. So much so that our own Kent Lee Platte wrote a profile on him before the draft.

“at 6-foot-6 and around 255 pounds, Valoaga has the size and length that Teryl Austin has coveted for his defensive linemen”

There are questions about Valoaga’s character. Academics caused him to miss the entire 2014 season and he was dismissed from the UNLV team at the end of 2016 season for violating a undisclosed team rule. Still, the Lions are hurting at defensive end, so if Valoaga can put it all behind him, he could be a darkhorse candidate to sneak on the team.

76. S Charles Washington (High: 72, Low: 79)

Washington joined the Lions out of Fresno State as an undrafted rookie last year. He spent the majority of the season on their practice squad. Though Washington played cornerback in college, Detroit has tabbed him as a safety at the professional level. He’s still practice squad eligible and with a year of experience under his belt, he likely has a leg up on this year’s UDFAs.

75. WR Ryan Spadola (High: 65, Low: 83)

Spadola has only been in the league for four years, but he’s already considered to be a journeyman. Before landing in Detroit in 2015, he spent time on the Jets, Dolphins, Falcons and Cardinals. He actually was active for a game with Miami and three with the Jets, but has yet to record a single statistic.

Spadola has been with the Lions since the middle of the 2015 season, yet has not managed to get himself off the practice squad. His size and speed make him a solid slot receiver, but considering he hasn’t established himself in four years, it may be time to move on.

74. DT Bruce Gaston (High: 64, Low: 82)

You may not recognize the name Bruce Gaston, and that’s because he’s only been a Lion for a month. Detroit added Gaston, along with former Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson after letting Nick James and Maurice Swain go.

Gaston is quite familiar with the NFC North. In 2015, he played two games with the Packers and seven with the Bears. In total, he picked up 12 tackles and one sack that year, but hasn’t seen the field since. Gaston even spent a couple weeks on the Vikings roster last offseason, but has yet to find a long-term home.

73. C Leo Koloamatangi (High: 63, Low: 85)

Like Gaston, there is a large amount of disagreement between the Pride Of Detroit staff on where Leo Koloamatangi fits on this list. The center out of Hawaii checks all the boxes in terms of size and athleticism, but his technique is what caused him to go undrafted in 2016. Here’s what Pro Football Focus had to say about him:

On film you see a player who switched positions often and never found a home but has great strength and athleticism. Koloamatangi has a huge upside because of his raw strength and athleticism along his fit in multiple run blocking schemes and the ability to play guard or center. Kolomatangi’s raw power and athleticism are some of the best in this year’s draft and the more you study his play the more you see his potential to be a contributor at the next level.

Though Detroit technically has a backup center in Graham Glasgow, Koloamatangi could find his way onto the roster if Detroit decides to keep Glasgow as a pure guard. If not, Koloamatangi still may make the practice squad in the hopes he could become the backup in 2018, if Detroit moves on from Travis Swanson.

72. T Tony Hills (High: 60, Low: 82)

This is Hills’ first season with the Lions, but he’s already the fourth oldest player on the roster. Despite hanging around for nine seasons in the NFL, Hills has never started a game. He has made 32 appearances on five different teams. Hills was added in June as some relief when Taylor Decker went down but since then Detroit has added Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio, making Hills’ chances of making the team very low.

71. G Brandon Thomas (High: 69, Low: 74)

A former third-round pick in 2014, Thomas was traded to the Lions last offseason when Detroit sent Jeremy Kerley to the 49ers. Thomas did not end up making the team last year, but he spent the entire season on Detroit’s practice squad.

Thomas’ career got out to a rough start when he tore his ACL weeks before the draft. He sat out his entire rookie year in the hopes of getting healthy, but he has yet to see the field as a professional.

Detroit doesn’t have a ton of solid depth at guard, so don’t completely sleep on Thomas. Still, it would be considered a mild surprise if he made the cut over the likes of Laken Tomlinson or Joe Dahl.

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