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Detroit Lions 2017 53-man roster prediction: Preseason Week 3

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Our latest crack at predicting the Lions’ final 53-man roster.

NFL: New York Jets at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Detroit Lions kick off their dress rehearsal game against the New England Patriots on Friday, let’s take another crack at the Lions’ 53-man roster. We’re at the halfway point of the preseason, and there are just a few more chances for players to make their case for a job this fall.

But a lot can change in so little time; let’s take a look at where things currently stand. Here is my latest 53-man roster prediction:

Quarterbacks (2)

QB Matthew Stafford
QB Jake Rudock

QB Brad Kaaya

No change here, as it looks more and more likely that Kaaya is headed for the practice squad. That’s not a dismissal of how Kaaya is playing, but when you’re only getting snaps in the fourth quarter, it’s not a good sign the Detroit Lions are valuing you as a third-string option worthy of a roster spot. He’ll get even less playing time on Friday.

Running backs (4)

RB Ameer Abdullah
RB Theo Riddick
RB Zach Zenner
RB Dwayne Washington

RB Matt Asiata
RB Mike James
RB Tion Green

Again, no change here. Matt Asiata is quickly playing his way off the roster, considering he’s averaging 1.6 yards per carry on 10 rushes so far.

Wide receivers (5)

WR Marvin Jones Jr.
WR Golden Tate
WR Kenny Golladay
WR TJ Jones
WR Keshawn Martin

WR Jace Billingsley
WR Jared Abbrederis
WR Dez Stewart
WR Dontez Ford
WR Michael Rector
WR Noel Thomas

In: Keshawn Martin
Out: Jared Abbrederis

I’m sticking with five receivers here, because the competition is just too good, but the Lions have been searching for a kick and punt returner all through camp, and last Saturday, they finally saw someone break through. Keshawn Martin had a kick return of 43 yards and a punt return of 22 yards.

While those are just two plays and Martin hasn’t shown much as a receiver, the Lions kept Andre Roberts, who had similar production both as a receiver and as a special teamer. I’m also still holding out hope the Lions can trade a guy like Jared Abbrederris for a defensive lineman on someone else’s roster bubble.

Tight ends (4)

TE Eric Ebron
TE Darren Fells
TE Michael Roberts
TE Cole Wick

TE Khari Lee
TE Tim Wright
TE Scott Orndoff
TE Robert Tonyan

In: Cole Wick
Out: Tim Wright

I got a little too caught up in the Tim Wright hype when the Lions added him. Wright immediately got hurt and didn’t play in the preseason game against the Jets. Cole Wick didn’t play in that game, either, but he has youth on Wright, so let’s just throw him in there for fun.

This is a low-key position battle if the Lions even decided to keep four tight ends, which I think they should. Both Wright and Wick appear to be healthy now, so Friday will be an important game for both.

Offensive line (9)

OT Greg Robinson
OT Rick Wagner
OT Cyrus Kouandjio
OT Cornelius Lucas
OG T.J. Lang
OG Graham Glasgow
OG Laken Tomlinson
OG Joe Dahl
C Travis Swanson

OT Taylor Decker (PUP)
OT Storm Norton
OT Corey Robinson
OT Nick Becton
OG Brandon Thomas
OG Connor Bozick
C Leo Koloamatangi

In: Cornelius Lucas
Out: Storm Norton

With Cornelius Lucas back in practice, I’m ready to cut ties with Storm Norton, who got way too much hype, way too early. Norton has been downright bad as the team’s primary backup offensive tackle, and that should have been expected from the get-go with an undrafted rookie.

The big problem here is that Lucas costs the Lions a lot of money and cutting him would free up nearly $1.8 million in cap space. But the Lions are so desperately thin at offensive tackle depth, that they need the player over the cap space and at least Lucas has some experience.

Defensive line (10)

DE Ezekiel Ansah
DE Cornelius Washington
DE Anthony Zettel
DE Alex Barrett
DE Jeremiah Valoaga
DT A'Shawn Robinson
DT Haloti Ngata
DT Akeem Spence
DT Jordan Hill
DT Jeremiah Ledbetter

DE Kerry Hyder (IR)
DE Brandon Copeland (IR)
DE Armonty Bryant (Suspended list)
DE Pat O'Connor
DE Giorgio Newberry
DT Khyri Thornton
DT Ego Ferguson
DT Caushaud Lyons

Out: Pat O’Connor

This has nothing to do with the play of Pat O’Connor, who I actually think played fairly well for a seventh-round rookie on Saturday. I just decided that the Lions need the extra roster spot in the secondary. O’Connor was my first choice out, but I think Alex Barrett could have easily taken his place.

Linebackers (5)

LB Tahir Whitehead
LB Jarrad Davis
LB Paul Worrilow
LB Antwione Williams
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin

LB Thurston Armbrister
LB Steve Longa
LB Nick Bellore

Again, no changes here, but it’s becoming harder and harder to cut ties with Steve Longa, who has been excellent on special teams as of late. With so much talent in the secondary and such a big need for defensive line depth, I just couldn’t carve out space on this roster for a sixth linebacker.

Defensive backs (11)

CB Darius Slay
CB Nevin Lawson
CB Teez Tabor
CB DJ Hayden
CB Quandre Diggs
CB Jamal Agnew
CB Johnson Bademosi
S Glover Quin
S Tavon Wilson
S Miles Killebrew
S Don Carey

CB Tramain Jacobs
CB Adairius Barnes
CB Josh Thornton
S Alex Carter
S Rolan Milligan
S Charles Washington

In: Quandre Diggs, Don Carey
Out: Alex Carter

Quandre Diggs showed me something that I didn’t know he had last week: special teams skills. That’s exactly what Diggs needs to do to make that extra push for a roster spot. That being said, he could still very well win the nickel corner job, too.

I had assumed all offseason that it was Diggs or DJ Hayden, but in the end, I decided there was room for both of them. Brett Whitefield over at Pro Football Focus pointed out something on Thursday that is important to note in the nickel corner race:

The Lions don’t have a lot of proven depth on the outside beyond their starters. Teez Tabor is coming along slowly, while Bademosi and Agnew are just special teamers at this point. If Hayden can play sufficiently on the outside and be the primary backup, while Diggs retains his spot as the nickelback, I think that’s a pretty decent setup for Detroit.

Keen-eyed Pride of Detroiters may notice that I have Johnson Bademosi in, despite the fact that I had him out in this week’s Bubble Watch. Well, I changed my mind in two days. Sue me.

Special Teams (3)

K Matt Prater
P Sam Martin

P Kasey Redfern

LS Don Muhlbach

Please someone find Kasey Redfern a job.