Continuing the countdown of the 90 players currently signed by the Detroit Lions, we march on with spots 80 through 71. Still deep in the ranks of UDFAs, camp longshots, and relative unknowns, these are players who are most likely battling for a spot on the practice squad.
But to those who are writing all of these dreamers off, I implore you to remember who survived the final roster cut down day in 2016. Until we have a roster heading into the regular season, these guys are all Detroit Lions.
80. LB Trevor Bates (High: 71, Low: 85)
If there was ever a player signed less than a month ago who has the inside track to making the Detroit practice squad, it would be Bates. A big body linebacker who spent time in New England on their practice squad twice, he already knows most of the defensive system. That said, he never made the active roster on Matt Patricia’s units and is going to be fighting for a deep depth spot.
79. WR Bradley Marquez (High: 69, Low: 82)
Somehow none of the staff was very high on Marquez, a slot receiver who actually spent time on the active roster in 2017 for the Lions. You would think 30 game appearances for the Rams and promotion ahead of other wide receivers like Jace Billingsley would push him further up the list - but such is not the case.
78. DT Josh Fatu (High: 71, Low: 82)
Athletically a pure nose tackle, this undrafted former Trojan missed time last year to a concussion sustained in a car accident. Fatu was a rock in the middle of the run defense for his college squad, and his importance showed in a loss to Notre Dame during his recovery: the Irish rushed for 377 yards and 5 touchdowns in that game. Could be a good practice squad candidate to provide depth at the two-gap role in Detroit’s new scheme.
77. CB Amari Coleman (High: 65, Low: 84)
A two-time first team All-MAC standout from Central Michigan, it is easy to root for Flint’s own Amari Coleman. While it is always a longshot for undrafted free agents to make the team, at least some observers think Coleman has a decent chance to possibly get a look at shoring up the dreadfully thin nickel position.
76. TE Marcus Lucas (High: 60, Low: 84)
Given the recent talk of having more tight ends on the field, it may seem like prospects are on the rise for guys down the roster trying to make it as a third or fourth option at the position. However, there must be a reason the Panthers, Dolphins, Bears, Seahawks, Colts, and Raiders all passed on Lucas after each giving him a practice squad look over the past four years.
75. WR Deontez Alexander (High: 66, Low: 86)
Coming out of nowhere during rookie minicamp, DIII prospect Deontez Alexander’s absolutely ridonkulous size-speed combination make him a player to keep in the back of your mind during training camp. No doubt a project player that could probably use a season or two on the practice squad to skill up against better competition, the raw athletic material is definitely there for the coaching staff to mold. Interestingly he also played cornerback at the high school level, and several NFL teams thought about trying to convert him into a big corner.
74. WR Andy Jones (High: 68, Low: 77)
Promoted to the active roster late last December when TJ Jones was placed on injured reserve, Andy Jones is in roughly the same situation as Bradley Marquez. Once TJ signed his RFA tender, the chances of any of Andy Jones or any of the other wide receivers down the depth chart making it past the practice squad fell dramatically.
73. WR Dontez Ford (High: 67, Low: 82)
Last year: 83
An undrafted free agent signed by the Lions in 2017, Ford played well in the preseason at times before going down to injury on the practice squad. The team liked what they saw from him when healthy to give him the futures contract nod over Thurston Armbrister.
72. LB Al-Rasheed Benton (High: 65, Low: 78)
Despite lacking the big linebacker size preferred in the scheme or the athleticism to fly all over the field, Benton somehow made play after play in 2017 for the Mountaineers. Our Kent Lee Platte thinks Benton’s path to making the squad, if anything, would be on special teams.
71. TE Sean McGrath (High: 53, Low: 87)
Speaking of special teams, five-year veteran McGrath was a steady contributor in the kicking game for the Chargers before coming to the Lions. While it is unlikely that the team will keep four tight ends, McGrath is a decent bet to be that fourth guy after Luke Willson, Michael Roberts, and Levine Toilolo.