The roster bubble is one of the most perilous places for an NFL player heading into training camp. You know your spot on the roster isn’t safe and every single practice is crucial to your destiny for 2018. While some of these players may have the security of practice squad eligibility if things don’t work out, some veterans aren’t given the same safety rail. If they can’t prove their worth in training camp, they could become jobless come September.
Here are 10 players on the Lions’ roster bubble, as we count down each Lions player from 90 to 1 based on our staff’s rankings. Catch up with the bottom 30 here:
60. DE Cam Johnson (High: 53, Low: 68)
Johnson is one of those players that can’t really afford to miss out on the team. The 28-year-old veteran joins the Lions after going teamless in 2017. It was just two years ago that Johnson started nine games for the Browns and accumulated 32 tackles, 3.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Lions’ roster is thin at defensive end, giving Johnson a shot at the final roster, but if he doesn’t make the 53, it could be curtains on his career.
59. RB Dwayne Washington (High: 53, Low: 85)
Last year: 59
Despite a season where Washington was seldomly used, the Lions running back finds himself ranked in the exact same spot as last year. However, with the Lions adding both LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson this offseason, Washington’s path to the final roster is hanging by a thread. Luckily for him, he still has practice squad eligibility.
58. C Leo Koloamatangi (High: 54, Low: 64)
Last year: 73
Leo Koloamatangi enjoyed a nice bump from last season, perhaps simply from name recognition. Koloamatangi spent all of 2017 on the Lions’ practice squad, but with Travis Swanson out of the picture, Koloamatangi has a serious chance at earning the backup center job. Obviously, rookie Frank Ragnow could be in the mix there, too, but if Koloamatangi shows serious signs of development, he could earn his way onto the 53.
57. QB Jake Rudock (High: 41, Low: 83)
Last year: 55
Despite some serious improvement during last year’s preseason, Jake Rudock actually fell two spots in our rankings this year. Perhaps most notably, Rudock is behind Matt Cassel in our rankings.
Not everyone agrees, as both myself and Kyle Yost had Rudock higher (hmmm), but Rudock was really dragged down by Kent’s 83 ranking.
Rudock and Cassel are in for a pretty heated backup quarterback training camp battle, so we’ll see who emerges in the upcoming month.
56. WR Teo Redding (High: 45, Low: 68)
Teo Redding comes into training camp with a lot of OTA buzz hanging off him. He’s still ranked sixth among wide receivers on the roster, making him unlikely to land on the 53, but if the buzz continues, he’ll be—at the very least—a lock for the practice squad.
55. FB Nick Bellore (High: 42, Low: 87)
Last year: 63
After a season of spot duty at linebacker, Nick Bellore jumped eight spots in this year’s rankings. But his linebacker play is not likely what caused the bump. This year, Bellore has transitioned to a full-time fullback, and because it appears rookie Nick Bawden suffered a serious injury in minicamp, the job is Bellore’s to lose.
However, despite Bellore’s 13 snaps at fullback last year, Kent is not convinced. He ranked Bellore as the fourth-worst player on the roster, a good 31 spots lower than anyone else on staff.
54. LB Steve Longa (High: 49, Low: 62)
Last year: 68
Speaking of linebackers in spot duty, the staff is much more agreeable on Steve Longa’s value. A valuable member of the Lions’ special team unit last year (played in 15 games), Longa certainly has a case for the final roster. Detroit’s linebacker depth is thin at best, and although Longa will be playing under a completely different coaching staff in 2018, it’s clear this franchise values special teams.
53. WR Jace Billingsley (High: 46, Low: 59)
Last year: 49
Winnemucca’s favorite athlete may have worn out his welcome in Detroit. Not only is he currently losing in the Sweet 16 of the Name Bracket tournament, but he’s also starting to lose the faith of the Pride of Detroit staff.
Billingsley dropped a mere four spots from last year, after spending almost all of 2017 on and off the practice squad. Billingsley did get in two games last year, but almost exclusively played on special teams during those two weeks.
Entering his third year with the Lions, Billingsley is running out of chances in Detroit. But with Golden Tate entering the final year of his contract, is Billingsley’s future bright? We’ll see.
52. DE Alex Barrett (High: 45, Low: 65)
Last year: 89
No player jumped higher in this year’s rankings than defensive end Alex Barrett, who was ranked as the second-worst Lion on the roster last season. Barrett responded by making the team’s final 53-man roster.
Barrett would only last a couple of weeks on the roster before he was waived and added to the practice squad for the rest of the season. However, expectations are clearly a lot higher now that Barrett has had a year to take everything in. The San Diego State product has a serious chance to not only make the roster again this year, but to actually contribute during the regular season.
51. DB Charles Washington (High: 44, Low: 57)
Last year: 76
The Lions defensive backfield training camp battles are going to be a bloodbath this year. The Lions added DeShawn Shead and Tracy Walker to an already talent-loaded secondary.
That could make it really tough for a guy like Charles Washington to make the final roster, but his 2017 campaign should only help. Though he wasn’t dominant, he provided value on special teams and even played a significant amount of snaps at safety early in the season. That sort of versatility will be valuable to the Lions, especially if a guy like Miles Killebrew continues to fall out of favor with the team.