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Detroit Lions 53-man roster prediction: Preseason Week 3 depth chart

With only the least important preseason game left, it’s time to guess at how the roster shakes out.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is changing, and those changes have begun to bleed into things we consider normal in the preseason. With the Chicago Bears outright refusing to play starters in the third preseason game and others drastically cutting back on starter play, it won’t be too long before our first glimpse of the team’s starters is in Week 1 of the regular season. We aren’t there yet, however, and this week’s victory against the Buccaneers gave us a pretty good idea of where a majority of the roster stands. So we’re going to take another crack at a guess, with bolded players making the roster.


  1. Matthew Stafford
  2. Matt Cassel
  3. Jake Rudock

Changes: None

This looks the same as it did in my last prediction and indeed in every prediction I’ve made since Matt Cassel was signed. That Rudock didn’t rep until late in the game against the Bucs is pretty telling, but the final nail will be watching Jake Rudock playing most of the final preseason game. He had a decent run, but this is likely the end.

Running backs

  1. Kerryon Johnson
  2. LeGarrette Blount
  3. Theo Riddick
  4. Ameer Abdullah
  5. FB Nick Bawden (IR)
  6. FB Nick Bellore
  7. Zach Zenner
  8. Dwayne Washington

Changes: None

I stand by my previous assertion that Kerryon Johnson will be the starter sooner than later with Blount getting a large volume of carries and Riddick in his normal role. Ameer Abdullah continues to be used like someone who has a role in the offense, while that’s less true for Nick Bellore. When Nick Bawden went down for the season, I had assumed the team would bring in another true fullback to take his place, but they’ve mainly rolled with Bellore. Bellore’s role on special teams is still solid, but they’ve barely used him this preseason as a lead blocker and when they have it hasn’t been great.

Wide receiver

  1. Marvin Jones Jr.
  2. Golden Tate
  3. Kenny Golladay
  4. TJ Jones
  5. Brandon Powell
  6. Bradley Marquez
  7. Jace Billingsley
  8. Teo Redding
  9. Chris Lacy
  10. Dontez Ford
  11. Brian Brown

Changes: Powell and Marquez up, Billingsley and Redding down.

While there has been no movement at the top, there’s been a bit of shuffling among the rest of the group. Brandon Powell’s emergence into the Jace Billingsley role of taking short dump-offs and slants for solid gains has pushed him up the depth chart while Marquez’s and Redding’s intermediate field ability is completely wasted with Matt Cassel and Jake Rudock having to heave with all their might to get the ball five yards downfield.

Tight ends

  1. Luke Willson
  2. Hakeem Valles
  3. Levine Toilolo
  4. Michael Roberts
  5. Sean McGrath
  6. Marcus Lucas

Changes: Valles way up, Roberts down

While we thought, at first, that this group was all locked up, they went ahead and made it tough for us. Luke Willson is still the presumed starter, but Hakeem Valles has made it tough to keep him off the field. Levine Toilolo has a role due to his upper-tier blocking, but Michael Roberts has done everything in his power to play his way off of the roster. What little value Sean McGrath brought to special teams isn’t enough for a roster spot while Marcus Lucas’ only real hope is to latch on as a practice squadder.

Offensive line

LT Taylor Decker

LG Frank Ragnow

OC Graham Glasgow

RG T.J. Lang

RT Rick Wagner


  1. Tyrell Crosby (OT/OG)
  2. Leo Koloamatangi (OC/OG)
  3. Corey Robinson (OT/OG)
  4. Wesley Johnson (OC/OG)
  5. Kenny Wiggins (OG/OC)
  6. Joe Dahl (OT/OG/OC)
  7. Brian Mihalik (OT)
  8. John Montelus (OG)
  9. Dan Skipper (TP (tall person))
  10. Beau Nunn (OG)
  11. Jamar McGloster(OT)

Changes: None to starters, Crosby and Koloamatangi up, Wiggins way down

This is a group I have very little faith in, both faith in predicting it and faith in its value if called upon. Tyrell Crosby looks like a steal if his college injury concerns don’t creep up, while Koloamatangi has been one of the Lions’ best players for a second preseason in a row, if only against reserve players. Beyond that, it’s varying degrees of bad.

Defensive Ends

  1. Ezekiel Ansah
  2. Anthony Zettel
  3. Kerry Hyder
  4. Cam Johnson
  5. Jeremiah Valoaga

Changes: Cornelius Washington cut, Cam Johnson up

Not the most inspiring group, but it is what it is. Zettel and Hyder have looked promising, which is a good thing, but mostly only when flipped inside on passing downs. Cam Johnson has been uninspiring, but they’re really repping him like someone who’s making the team. Valoaga is likely headed back to the practice squad.

Defensive Tackle

  1. Ricky Jean Francois
  2. Da’Shawn Hand
  3. A’Shawn Robinson
  4. Jeremiah Ledbetter
  5. Christian Ringo

Changes: Hand up, Robinson down

Our prediction of Hand becoming a starter soon seemed to be as close as you can come to confirmed against the Bucs when he started alongside Francois in four-down sets and was on the field a ton. The big story is A’Shawn Robinson who has been put in a very favorable position this offseason but has managed to lose ground at every step. After being a huge part of the defense in 2017, he may be relegated to obvious run situations only.

Nose Tackle

  1. Sylvester Williams
  2. Toby Johnson
  3. Josh Fatu

Changes: None

Nothing new here. Williams is coming off his best action this preseason and camp, so hopefully that’s a good sign.

Pass Rushing Linebacker

  1. Devon Kennard
  2. Alex Barrett
  3. Eli Harold
  4. Freddie Bishop

Changes: Eli Harold added

Not a lot of movement in terms of who’s repping where, but the addition of Eli Harold is going to make things a bit interesting. Devon Kennard figures to be a big part of the defense, but his play hasn’t justified that move so far. It leaves room for someone else to step up, but who makes that move?


  1. Jarrad Davis
  2. Christian Jones
  3. Jalen Reeves-Maybin
  4. Jonathan Freeny
  5. Steve Longa (IR)
  6. Miles Killebrew
  7. Chad Meredith
  8. Darnell Sankey
  9. Trevor Bates

Changes: Longa to IR, Killebrew to LB

No significant changes in this group aside from injury, but holy cow have they been bad. Christian Jones and Jarrad Davis were competing to see who could make the most boneheaded plays against the Buccaneers while Jalen Reeves-Maybin has continued to look like a steep regression in coverage is likely. It’s a bad sign for him, but opens the door for Miles Killebrew to sneak back into roster safety now that he’s joined this group. But again, holy crap this group is bad from top to bottom.


  1. Darius Slay
  2. DeShawn Shead
  3. Quandre Diggs (Nickel)
  4. Nevin Lawson
  5. Jamal Agnew (Nickel)
  6. Teez Tabor
  7. Mike Ford
  8. Chris Jones
  9. Sterling Moore
  10. Dexter McDougle
  11. Josh Okonye

Changes: No movement in order, but a bunch of churning at the bottom

Once thought to be a strength, this group was thrashed by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Even Slay put on a bad showing, though it wasn’t nearly the horror show Nevin Lawson put on. Despite the poor game, Slay is still a top-tier cornerback, but the rest of this unit looks nearly as bad as the linebackers.


  1. Glover Quin
  2. Tavon Wilson
  3. Tracy Walker
  4. Charles Washington
  5. Rolan Milligan
  6. Marcus Cromartie

Changes: Added Cromartie

The addition of Marcus Cromartie does nothing to this unit. They’ve actually performed alright, but the lack of pass rush is going to cause them fits as the season goes on.

Special Teams

LS. Don Muhlbach

K. Matt Prater

P. Sam Martin

K. Ryan Santoso

Nothing to see here.