Many training camp battles are just now heating up at Detroit Lions training camp. For many, all we can do is guess who is in the lead for some of these positional battles based on training camp reps or play during the preseason.
The Lions may have given us a hint as to where things currently stand on Wednesday morning: The team released its first unofficial depth chart of the season.
Before we get into breaking it down, there’s a few important things to note. First, this depth chart was created by the Lions’ media team, not coaches, the general manager, or people in charge of player personnel, so don’t put too much stock into this report.
Additionally, there are several players still on the injury lists that could shake things up when they return. Ezekiel Ansah and Sam Martin, for example, are listed at the bottom of their respective depth charts.
But we’re in the business of analyzing all things Lions, and business is booming. So, even if this depth chart likely means very little, let’s break it down.
QB: Matthew Stafford | Jake Rudock | Brad Kaaya
RB: Ameer Abdullah | Zach Zenner | Matt Asiata | Mike James
RB: Theo Riddick | Dwayne Washington | Tion Green
WR: Golden Tate | Kenny Golladay | Jace Billingsley | Keshawn Martin | Michael Rector
WR: Marvin Jones Jr. | TJ Jones | Jared Abbrederis/Dontez Ford | Noel Thomas/Dez Stewart
TE: Eric Ebron | Darren Fells | Cole Wick | Michael Roberts/Khari Lee/Robert Tonyan/Tim Wright
LT: Greg Robinson | Cyrus Kouandjio | Storm Norton | Taylor Decker*
LG: Graham Glasgow | Joe Dahl | Brandon Thomas
C: Travis Swanson | Leo Koloamatangi
RG: T.J. Lang | Laken Tomlinson | Matt Rotheram
RT: Rick Wagner | Cornelius Lucas | Nick Becton | Corey Robinson*
*denotes injured player on PUP or NFI
The most important thing to note here is Greg Robinson listed as the Lions’ starting left tackle. This matches what we’ve basically seen in training camp. Robinson is typically the first player out with the No. 1 offense, but he has seen a heavy split with Kouandjio. That battle is still very much ongoing.
At wide receiver, Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay and TJ Jones are your top four wideouts. That leaves Jace Billingsley, Jared Abbrederis and Keshawn Martin on the roster bubble, considering the Lions may only keep four receivers this season.
Finally, as expected, Jake Rudock is currently ahead of Brad Kaaya on the depth chart. There is still a lot of time left for this to change, but no one expected Kaaya to be ahead of Rudock at this point in the offseason.
DE: Kerry Hyder Jr. | Cornelius Washington | Pat O’Connor | Jeremiah Valoaga
DT: A’Shawn Robinson | Akeem Spence | Jeremiah Ledbetter | Ego Ferguson
DT: Haloti Ngata | Khyri Thornton | Jordan Hill | Bruce Gaston
DE: Anthony Zettel | Armonty Bryant | Alex Barrett | Ezekiel Ansah*
OLB: Tahir Whitehead | Jalen Reeves-Maybin | Steve Longa
MLB: Jarrad Davis | Paul Worrilow | Nick Bellore
OLB: Antwione Williams | Brandon Copeland | Thurston Armbrister
CB: Darius Slay | DJ Hayden | Johnson Bademosi | Jamal Agnew/Tramain Jacobs
CB: Nevin Lawson | Teez Tabor | Quandre Diggs | Adairius Barnes/Josh Thornton
SS: Tavon Wilson | Miles Killebrew | Alex Carter
FS: Glover Quin | Charles Washington | Don Carey | Rolan Milligan
*denotes injured player on PUP or NFI
With Ezekiel Ansah is positioned at the bottom of the depth chart by default due to injury, it’s interesting to see the pecking order of Detroit’s depth at defensive end. Anthony Zettel is currently penciled in as the starting left defensive end, while Kerry Hyder Jr. is starting opposite him. Mock game superstar Jeremiah Valoaga is still buried deep on the depth chart, as he finally recovers from starting training camp on the PUP list.
The Lions media department did not designate a spot on the roster for a nickel cornerback, so it’s not exactly clear where that camp battle currently stands. However, DJ Hayden is listed as a second-teamer, while Quandre Diggs is a third-string cornerback.
Elsewhere, Don Carey is listed below Charles Washington, which can’t be a good sign for the special team’s ace.
PK: Matt Prater
H (holder): Kasey Redfern | Sam Martin*
KO: Matt Prater | Kasey Redfern
P: Kasey Redfern
LS: Don Muhlbach
PR: Golden Tate | TJ Jones | Jamal Agnew | Keshawn Martin/Jace Billingsley/Jared Abbrederis
KR: Dwayne Washington | TJ Jones | Jamal Agnew | Keshawn Martin/Jace Billingsley/Jared Abbrederis
The only thing of note here is the very competitive punt and kick return jobs. Currently, Golden Tate and Dwayne Washington lead those competitions, respectively.
It’s a bit surprising to see both players at the top of the list there. Tate has been taking limited reps as a returner during camp, while Washington has dealt with some bobbles and muffs as a returner. Digging deeper into the chart, it appears Jones is ahead of the rest of the wide receivers, which could give him an edge when it comes to roster cuts.
But let’s not overreact to anything on these depth charts just yet. Take this reminder from last year:
As a reminder, last year's 1st "unofficial" depth chart had Ridley as RB3, Muligan as TE2, Ikard as C2, Schwartz as RG2, and A'Shawn as DT4,— Scott Warheit (@swarheit) August 9, 2017