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Detroit Lions 2018 training camp depth chart prediction

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Matt Patricia doesn’t make much of a secret about which players he wants to see early in his rotations, so let’s test that out with a depth chart prediction.

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

One thing that has crept up over the past few training camp practices is that, despite how frenetic and fast paced everything is, Matt Patricia seems to have a very clear idea of who he likes and in what roles. Unlike both Jim Caldwell and Jim Schwartz, Patricia doesn’t do a set team A, team B, team C type of practice. He has the first group, which he’ll rotate into, a second group that he’ll rotate less frequently, and a third group. The first group, comprised of obvious starters and guys leading their position gets the most work while each group after gets less snaps and work. The guess is that Patricia may have his depth chart figured out and he only tweaks it as necessary. To test that, we’re going to look at a possible depth chart based on how training camp has gone so far. (Bolded players are who I would constitute as a roster lock at this point of camp)

Quarterbacks

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

Matt Cassel has dominated snaps in team drills with second team and I’m not exaggerating when I say he’s had more than 80 percent of all QB2 snaps in the open portions of camp. He hasn’t played well, quite the opposite in many instances, but when Jake Rudock gets his shot he plays around the same or worse. As much as we talk about this as a battle, it’s not being treated as much of one. I stand by my prediction that regardless of who ‘wins’ this competition, neither will be on the roster in 2019.

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

Am I being too hasty putting Kerryon Johnson first on the depth chart? Am I drinking the kool aid completely? Well allow me to put this in context with a bit of a personal aside. Those who follow me know that I’m no stranger to being critical of the Lions players or coaches. Even more so, I’ve been the most vocal critic among the POD staff about the Lions run game, going so far as to state outright that the Lions would never have a rusher go for 800+ yards while Caldwell was in town (I once stated that if he had prime Adrian Peterson, he’d only allow him to run for 850 yards because he’d sub him out every other drive). So stating that I think a rookie will win the starting job this year over multiple established veterans is out of character. I’m embracing it, though. I’m fully onboard the Kerryon hype train. Beyond that, it’s pretty standard fare. Neither Zach Zenner nor Dwayne Washington have made any sort of impression, and the team hasn’t used either in a role that looks like they’re valuable to the final roster.

Wide Receiver

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

The first three in this group are hard locked and in exactly this order. When the Lions go into three receiver sets, that’s your group. TJ Jones looks to have his spot pretty well wrapped up as well and it would be surprising to see any other outcome. Heard at camp today was that the Lions were not as high on their depth receivers as the fans were and that the team may roll with only four receivers. While I’d be taken aback to see that happen, it’s not out of the question and would in fact make a lot of sense based on how the team has rotated their receivers. The second team WR group has been TJ Jones and a heavy rotation of the others after that. If a fifth receiver makes the team, it’s likely Billingsley and we see Redding and Powell on the practice squad.

Tight Ends

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

No surprises in this group, but also no standouts. I think depending on the week you could see the top three in any order. If the team carries four, or if there is an injury at the position, Valles has an in but it’s a long shot and I doubt they go deeper than three.

Offensive Line

LT. Taylor Decker
LG. Frank Ragnow
OC. Graham Glasgow
RG. T.J. Lang
RT. Rick Wagner

Reserves:

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

There’s very little intrigue here. The starter group is locked in. The top backups in Wiggins and Crosby seem locked in. After that you have a group of only four players vying for two or three spots. I think it roughly goes in this order, though you could flip 4-6 in any way and it’d be close enough that I wouldn't argue it.

Defensive Ends

  1. Ezekiel Ansah
  2. Anthony Zettel
  3. Kerry Hyder
  4. Cornelius Washington
  5. Jeremiah Valoaga

The top two guys here are locked in tight, but after that anything could happen. My guess is that Hyder takes the third spot and that’s all the Lions carry for true ends on the roster, with the rest of the outside pass rush coming from linebackers who can rush. This includes Devon Kennard, who some consider a DE but plays as a stand-up, pass-rushing LB. Cornelius Washington only just returned to practice, but I don’t think there’s much of a gap between Valoaga and him at this point.

Defensive Tackle

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

The addition of Ricky Jean Francois to this group helped bolster one of the weaker ones on the roster, and you could see the top four guys from this group on the final team. Hand is listed lower mostly because he was not really able to raise his stock due to an injury he sustained several practices ago. The top two are pretty set, 3-4 may flip, but I’m comfortable with the rankings here.

Nose Tackle

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

Only one of this group is making the final roster and it’s Sylvester Williams. Toby Johnson has a very far outside chance of making it on, but that mostly revolves around Williams troublesome injury history. Fatu is a practice squad candidate, but he’s played such a small amount of snaps in camp that he’s probably someone they don’t consider very useful at the moment.

Pass Rushing Linebacker

  1. Devon Kennard
  2. Alex Barrett
  3. Cam Johnson
  4. Freddie Bishop

Devon Kennard is the highest touted free agent the Lions had on defense, but the Lions are banking very heavily on a pretty steep improvement on his part for it to be a worthwhile one. With him having only just started to practice, Alex Barrett has stepped into his role and done inconsistently well/not well. Cam Johnson has been really bad in camp, but I’ve been told he’s a lock for the roster for whatever that’s worth. Freddie Bishop is very low on the depth chart, but he’s looked good every time I saw him. I think this largely comes down to value and versatility, hence why the first two are where they are, but this is a unit that could use a boost badly.

Linebacker

  1. Jarrad Davis
  2. Christian Jones
  3. Jalen Reeves-Maybin
  4. Jonathan Freeny
  5. Steve Longa
  6. Chad Meredith
  7. Darnell Sankey
  8. Tevor Bates

Davis and Jones have eaten a vast majority of the linebacker snaps in team drills with Jalen Reeves-Maybin taking a ton of sub package plays. Jonathan Freeny impressed in camp Friday, which is a silver lining to his play otherwise. The team seems to like his versatility, using him in coverage, as a blitzer, an edge rusher, and anywhere else you could line a guy up. After that you’re looking at special teams contributors. Like pass rusher, this is a group that could use an infusion of talent.

Cornerback

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

The Lions have given DeShawn Shead the No. 2 corner snaps around 75 percent of the time. Of the remaining 25 percent, most have been taken by Nevin Lawson, hinting that the team will rotate CB2 similar to how they did last season with Lawson and D.J. Hayden. Quandre Diggs has played at nickel a majority of his snaps with Agnew rotating in with first team on occasion. With those top four locked in place for corner and the fifth spot locked for Agnew’s special teams, the Lions will need to carry a sixth corner just to accomodate Teez Tabor’s development. That development has not looked great in camp so far. While he’s had some bright moments, most of those have gone while facing backup quality wide receivers like Chris Lacy. His best moments against someone that will actually make the team have been against TJ Jones, the team’s WR4, so he’s still got a lot of work to do. There has been nothing to suggest he’s actually fighting for CB2 snaps, despite the hype coming into camp for a battle there. Mike Ford was a favorite to make the practice squad in this group, but at this time I can’t see any of them sticking even there.

Safety

  1. Glover Quin
  2. Tavon Wilson
  3. Tracy Walker
  4. Rolan Milligan
  5. Miles Killebrew
  6. Charles Washington
  7. Stefan McClure

With a logjam at corner, safety becomes interesting. Glover Quin is the easy one, as is the starting spot opposite him where Tavon Wilson has taken the vast majority of snaps when he’s not hurt. Tracy Walker, being a third-round pick, locks his spot in place, which leads us to that last spot. Quandre Diggs will likely be the fourth ‘safety’ as a defensive back who can play both, but fan favorite Miles Killebrew has taken snaps only sparingly when the opportunity has been given. Instead, it’s Rolan Milligan who has taken a majority of SS snaps with second team, and while he hasn’t exactly looked good in them that only highlights how much of a long shot Killebrew may be for the roster. Charles Washington is a coach favorite with special teams ability, so he may even be higher than Killebrew at this point. This is a position that could go in any number of ways and will be the one most likely to be impacted by injury with Tavon Wilson returning as starter so it’s one to watch.

Special Teams

LS. Don Muhlbach

K. Matt Prater

P. Sam Martin

P2/K2. Ryan Santoso

There’s no real drama in the punting battle. The only holder on kicks has been Sam Martin and the team continues to use Santoso in the traditional ‘camp leg’ role where he’ll do some punting, some kicking, but none of the work with first team including hurry up drills where Martin has been the only player rushing to hold for Matt Prater’s last second field goal attempts.