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Detroit Lions 2018 final stock report: Evaluating the Lions’ complete roster

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The regular season is over so it’s time to take a final tally of your 2018 Detroit Lions and what the future may hold.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions finished the season at 6-10 for the first year of Matt Patricia’s tenure. That puts him on par with his former boss Bill Belichick, who posted the same record his first year with the Browns, and a win ahead of Bill’s record with the Patriots in his first year. It’s the same record Bill Walsh had in his second year with the 49ers and four wins better than his rookie campaign as a head coach.

It’s also a losing record for a team that had back-to-back winning seasons, and it was a season replete with poor decisions, overly conservative play calling, and off-field drama. It’s impossible in the pre-social media era to know what it felt like to be a Browns or Patriots fan in the first year of Belichick or a 49ers fan the first years of Walsh, but confidence in Detroit isn’t super high at the moment.

As the season is now over, we’ll be doing the stock report a bit differently. Going through each player and providing a look at whether they finished the year higher or lower than was expected and a guess at what the future may hold for them. As always, let’s jump right in.

Jamal Agnew, CB: Stock Up

Agnew lost most of 2018 to injury, but he was starting to improve as a nickel corner early on and that was a positive sign. He has been the best corner the Lions drafted in 2017 and he came in the fifth round. It’s pretty spectacular to have gotten the returns they have so far, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

Deontez Alexander, WR: Stock Up

Alexander has, just, all the athletic tools, but he was never able to stick in 2018. The Lions signed him to a futures deal and with the WR corps pretty depleted, he’ll have a chance to shake things up. Given his age, at worst he could land on the practice squad again.

Ezekiel Ansah, DE: Stock Down

Ansah has likely seen his final snaps as a Detroit Lion. His play was up and down, but it was mostly up when he saw the field. Still, constant injuries and unreliability make this parting almost a certainty.

John Atkins, DT: Stock Up

Atkins was a 26-year-old rookie with an abysmal athletic profile, even for a nose tackle. Still, he stuck on the practice squad and even made it to the regular roster by season’s end. The ceiling isn’t very high for me in terms of expectations, but the fact he’s around at all is a sign he could stick again in 2019.

Trevor Bates, LB: Stock Down

Bates came in for special teams and had a marvelous preseason. His regular season was far less impressive, and if you’re a special teamer who doesn’t stack up, your career tends to be short.

Nick Bawden, FB: Stock Down

Bawden missed his entire rookie campaign with a torn ACL. The Lions would go on to use fullback sparingly, and while his roster spot would be pretty much assured if he comes back in 2019, the team just moved on from their offensive coordinator. The most likely player to see his roster spot come to an end when there’s an offensive change is the fullback, since so few coaches use them and fewer still use them in any kind of extended capacity.

Nick Bellore, FB: Stock Down

Bellore clung tightly to his roster spot all year, and after a horrible start to the year on special teams, he was a decent member of the unit by year’s end. It’s far removed from his reputation as an ace, however. He wasn’t good as a fullback, and by the close of the season the Lions were content to have an extra offensive lineman in the backfield instead.

LeGarrette Blount, RB: Stock Down

Words can barely do justice to just how badly LeGarrette Blount played for the Lions most of the season. He ended the year with a terrible 2.7 yards per carry, which is even worse when you consider that he didn’t hit that average in 10 different games this season, and failed to even hit 2.0 yards per carry in nine of them.

Brian Brown, WR: Stock Down

Brown was a practice squadder who wasn’t signed to a futures deal. Considering how this WR corps looks, that ought to tell you a lot.

Matt Cassel, QB: Stock Down

Cassel didn’t do anything to lower his stock really, it’s just a fact of being a 37-year-old journeyman backup in 2019.

Andre Chachere, CB: Stock Up

A late signing, Chachere didn’t really do anything to raise or lower his grade, but he stuck to a roster as a 25-year-old rookie and that’s notable.

Connor Cook, QB: N/A

Cook wasn’t on the roster until after the final game, so he doesn’t really have stock here. I expect him to compete for the backup spot in 2019, but there are a lot of choices to upgrade over him so I wouldn’t write it in pen.

Marcus Cooper, CB: Stock Down

Cooper was another late addition, but his play didn’t do much to instill confidence. His few snaps in Arizona against THAT offense was nice, but once he played Kirk Cousins and even DeShone Kizer it became clear who he is.

Tyrell Crosby, OT: Stock Up

Expectations were oddly high for Crosby after injury and athletic questions saw him slide to the fifth round, but he mostly didn’t play as a rookie. After getting a little bit of extended action late in the year, we were left asking if Crosby could be a long-term piece at right tackle or guard. And to that, I say “probably not.” Still, he wasn’t terrible, and not terrible for a rookie fifth rounder is enough to want to see more in camp next year.

Jerome Cunningham, TE: Stock Down

Cunningham was deep on the depth chart of the worst TE group in the NFL. He barely got work, and considering who did get snaps in this offense, that tells me a lot.

Joe Dahl, OG: Stock Up

“Good Job” Joe Dahl actually had a pretty good year for what he is. A reserve swing lineman rarely gets to see more than a handful of snaps a year and Dahl likewise barely saw snaps. When he did get work in the lineup, he did pretty well and that’s all you can really ask for out of a swing guy. Expect to see him on a roster in 2019, likely the Lions.

Jarrad Davis: Stock Up

After struggling as a rookie, Davis grew in his second year. Though still not great there, Davis improved in coverage in his sophomore campaign while becoming one of the most dangerous blitzers in the NFL—displaying his third-down value. He still has a ton of areas to improve upon, but another year in the same system that was able to bring out the best in the things he could do should be good for him and the team that drafted him.

Taylor Decker: Stock Up

Though he has yet to recapture that promise from his rookie year, Decker improved upon his play in 2017 where he struggled returning from injury. I’m excited to see if another year of cohesion on that line will see him continue to improve or, like was saw with Jeff Backus and Riley Reiff, he’s basically plateaued already and this is just who he is. In either event, the Lions are set up well at left tackle.

Quandre Diggs, SS: Stock Up

A Pro Bowl alternate in his second year at the position and the bearer of several statistical milestones, it’s hard to look at Diggs’ 2018 and think it was anything short of a personal success. His career has been up and down, and so was this season, but his gladiator mindset and positive outlook have seen him become a featured piece in a defense that really needs more of them.

Andrew Donnal, OT: Stock Down

Andrew Donnal was claimed off waivers in early September and by the end of the season had played exactly two snaps on offense and only seven on special teams. That is impressive considering he lasted all the way to the end of the season. The fact he had no role but stuck on the roster is a funny aside, but being on a roster and not being worth fielding probably isn’t a good sign for his future.

Garret Dooley, LB: N/A

Though Dooley spent time on the practice squad, it’s tough for me to really assign a mark for him. He signed a futures deal, but he’s one of those guys I’m not sure even makes it to camp in 2019. He’s severely undersized for what the Lions like at linebacker (listed at only 227) and at 24 was overaged for a rookie. They think highly enough of him to sign him on, but I’m not confident it becomes a thing.

Bruce Ellington, WR: Stock Down

With Jim Bob Cooter leaving, there’s nobody left to force feed Ellington the football for 5 yards. Repeated injuries and no clear role in an offense means it’s unlikely we see him back in 2019.

Mike Ford, CB: Stock Up

Mike Ford was one of the UDFA many of us were excited to see. A strong athletic profile and draftable tape meant there was probably something there to develop. I don’t think anyone predicted he’d be starting for the Lions by year’s end, but he did. He graded out poorly—very poorly in fact—but that was still better than what the Lions were getting from tenured veterans and their own drafted guys, so it’s likely enough to buy him some time in 2019. I’m excited to see if he can improve, since almost all of his problems were simply mental errors.

Joshua Frazier, DT: Stock Down

Frazier was on the practice squad at defensive tackle and the Lions chose to instead sign 26 year old rookie UDFA John Atkins to the roster.

Graham Glasgow, OC: Stock Up

Glasgow quietly had a good year in 2017 and followed it up with a pretty mediocre affair in 2018. As a pass blocker, he only allowed a single sack all season and it was in the Rams game. Penalties were a problem, but most of those were late in the year after Stafford was hurt, and I get the feeling there was an internal discussion about letting him get blasted by someone coming up the middle. Hopeful to see the follow up.

Kenny Golladay, WR: Stock Up

Golladay notched his first 1,000-yard season and looked completely impossible to defend at points. He also disappeared completely from some games, but what that tells me is that he isn’t at his final form yet. I’m looking ahead and wondering what his season would have looked like if he cleaned up some of the minor issues plaguing him. As the Lions’ WR1 going forward, we should expect big things ahead.

Nicholas Grigsby, LB: Stock Down

Signed late as a special teamer, Grigsby was mostly bad on a weak unit. That’s not a great sign for a guy too small to play any meaningful role on a defense. I don’t expect him back in 2019.

Da’Shawn Hand, DL: Stock Up

After a crazily effective rookie campaign that almost nobody saw coming, Hand ended up on injured reserve, shuttering him for the last few weeks of the season. Signs are all pointing up, however, and if he is all healed up to start 2019, I just can’t wait to see what he can do.

Eli Harold, LB: Stock Up

Harold finished the year with a career high 4.0 sacks. Though not a core defensive player, and not much of a special teamer, I think Harold can provide value as a rotational rusher and if not in Detroit I think he continues to get a look in 2019 for that role.

Damon Harrison, NT: Stock Up

Will 2019 be the year the best run defender of the past decade finally gets a Pro Bowl? Snacks is a monster, and easily the best defensive lineman on this roster currently. I’d go so far as saying he was the best defensive player for the Lions in 2018, and clearly the biggest reason the defense went from awful against everything to just awful against the pass. Harrison allows you to do a ton of different things with your front seven, and should the Lions reload on the back end he could be a figurehead of a truly fearsome defense in 2019.

Kerry Hyder, DE, Stock Down

He finished the season on a good note, notching a sack against the Packers in Week 17. The rest of the season was mostly inactivity days and healthy scratches. His 2017 Achilles injury seemed to sap Hyder of all of his explosiveness and he simply wasn’t the same afterwards. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in camp again, but I would be surprised to see him reach anything close to his 2016 success.

Ricky Jean Francois, DT: Stock Up

Jean Francois wasn’t a great defensive tackle for the Lions, but he was a leader in the locker room and someone the other players rallied around. His own play wasn’t great, but he seemed to elevate the likes of A’Shawn Robinson and Da’Shawn Hand, and that kind of thing can be valuable to a team with a younger core.

Kerryon Johnson, RB: Stock Up

Johnson was one of the most effective running backs in the NFL before he went down with injury. His efficiency was like nothing we’ve seen in Detroit for a long time. His snaps were limited in part due to his propensity for injury, which is the biggest concern going forward. What isn’t a concern is whether or not he can tote the rock and move the chains, as we’ve seen he can bring that in spades.

Andy Jones, WR: Stock Up

Jones didn’t come in with any expectations and spent much of the year injured. Upon his return, he immediately made an impact on special teams and found a role on offense. Not a great role, he clearly wasn’t meant to be a top dog at this point, but he found work and that’s more than most do this early. I want to see if he has more dog in his fight.

Christian Jones, LB: Stock Up

Christian Jones came in with lofty expectations that didn’t make much sense given his play previous and ended the year playing better than most expected but being vilified for any mistake. It was a fun year. Jones is very much not a figurehead of a defense, but he turned himself into a workable member of the front seven, and that has value. Look forward to see what he can do with another year in the defense.

David Jones, FS: Stock Up

Jones is a holdover from the Patriots that the Lions signed to a futures deal to bring him into camp 2019. With likely entrenched starters, but reserves in the air, I think Jones may be in a very good spot to challenge for a roster spot.

Jarron Jones, OT: Stock Up

A converted defensive tackle with a poor athletic profile, I don’t see what the Lions like in Jarron Jones. But as a player flipping positions, it’s tough to project and the team thinks highly enough of his development to bring him back in 2019.

T.J. Lang, OG: Stock Down

Lang brought fire every time he was on the field and his attitude and leadership were unquestionable. It was always going to be a question of health versus cost, however, and the Lions are looking at the wrong end of both of those things. Lang certainly sounds like he expects to be back in 2019, but that’s a tough business decision that I wouldn’t be comfortable making.

Steve Longa, LB: Stock Down

Longa was a great story and I was hopeful to see him develop on defense this year before he went down with injury. One of the big reasons he stuck to the roster was special teams value, and with Joe Marciano gone I have a hard time coming up with reasons to expect Longa back in 2019.

Marvin Jones Jr., WR: Stock Down

Jones has had an up and down career in Detroit, and this season unfortunately ended on a down note. He was struggling to create separation and a lot of what made him successful in 2017 was simply lacking this year. The injury was especially unfortunate, and while I’m excited to see him without Jim Bob Cooter, I’m not sure how effective he’s going to be as a second fiddle to Golladay.

TJ Jones, WR: Stock Down

Jones had a breakout 2017 after largely disappointing as a draft pick, so expectations were he would continue to contribute in 2018. Instead, he got a ton of snaps and did very little with them. He tore up a weak, barely-motivated-to-show-up Packers defense, but whenever a corner wanted to actually cover Jones they did so with ease. I think he’ll be back in 2019 camp, but I also think he’d be better served elsewhere.

Devon Kennard, LB: Stock Down

Kennard came with very high expectations, like Christian Jones. Despite putting up gaudy numbers to start the year and finishing with a career-high 7.0 sacks, Kennard ended the year graded very poorly as a pass rusher. The Lions pass rush as a whole put up decent sack numbers but almost non-existent pressure. Kennard was a good example of that, as was Romeo Okwara. The Lions will be looking to improve their pass rush in 2019, and while replacing Kennard isn’t and shouldn’t be a priority, it is very much something the team should jump on if they have the opportunity and a player is there.

Miles Killebrew, SS: Stock Down

Killebrew had an promising 2017 so people were expecting a follow up. There was no play making in 2018, there was no breakout year. Killebrew became a below average special teamer and is not a lock to make the roster in 2019.

Leo Koloamatangi, OC: Stock Up

Koloamatangi didn’t have any regular season contribution, but he stuck and that means he’s probably going to find an opportunity in camp 2019. If not with the Lions, then somewhere. Not a big win, but a win.

Chris Lacy, WR: Stock Up

Lacy stuck on the practice squad and found his way to the regular roster by year’s end. I’m not sure there’s anything there, but he’s going to get a longer look in 2019 by someone.

Nevin Lawson, CB: Stock Down

Expectations weren’t very high for Lawson, who is mostly vilified by the Lions fans, and in that regard he didn’t disappoint. Lawson is a solid run defender and tackler, but he simply shouldn’t be starting at cornerback. The Lions pass defense was atrocious all season, he has never posted an interception and is penalized far too often. He’s abused more often than he makes plays, and that’s not going to cut it. The Lions need to overhaul the cornerback position, and it should start with Lawson.

Eric Lee, DE: Stock Down

I kept forgetting Lee was on the roster, expectations were that low. He barely played this year, and I’d be surprised to see him back after how he did play.

Mitchell Loewen, DE: Stock Down

A late pickup, the Lions didn’t even bother to get a look at Loewen or add his picture to the team’s website.

Sam Martin, P: Stock Up

Martin had a good year, though his contract makes things interesting for the offseason. The coverage units for the Lions were not good at all, posting the second-worst punt return average allowed at 11.4 yards per return, so Martin’s value may come into question even if much of the damage was done once the ball was in the air. If the Lions do move on, he’ll get a pretty good payday elsewhere.

Don Muhlbach, LS: Stock Down

We make a lot of long snapper jokes, but the fact remains that the Lions have tried to replace Muhlbach for years. With a new special teams coach coming in, this may be it for the longest tenured Lion on the team, especially after a down year.

Romeo Okwara, DE: Stock Up

Okwara, like Kennard, posted better sack numbers than his actual value as a pass rusher. Also like Kennard, Okwara graded very poorly as a pass rusher, but there’s some very real value that he provides that makes him likely to stick. First, he’s a RFA so he won’t be expensive to retain. Second, Okwara can play an absurd number of snaps seemingly without tiring, and that level of durability and motor can always be valuable even if your play is only average.

Brandon Powell, WR, Stock Up

Abusing the Packers’ half-speed reserve corners got a lot of people excited, and it’s a great way to finish out the season, but I wouldn’t let yourself fall for it too hard. Powell ended the season on a very high note, but he’s going to be entering 2019 in pretty much the same way as he did 2018, low on the depth chart and struggling to find a way to fit in. He failed on several occasions to provide offensive benefit after Golden Tate left and the Lions still have Jamal Agnew for special teams value. That said, ending the year on a high note makes his chances of returning to Lions camp in 2019 a lot higher.

Matt Prater, K: Stock Up

Prater was fairly steadfast this season and as a kicker, what else do you really need to do than hit field goals and do so routinely?

Glover Quin, FS: Stock Down

Quin is possibly facing retirement after what was likely his worst season as a pro. He has been a pro’s pro for a team that really needed to have some positive faces, and I’ll hate to see him go. He ended the year on a high note with some of his better performances, but this is likely it for the one time pro bowl safety.

Frank Ragnow, OG: Stock Up

Ragnow started off rough, lit up a bunch of teams, then leveled out. There were a lot of hills and valleys as a rookie, but I think the arrow is firmly pointed up going into his first full offseason.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB: Stock Down

Some expected JRM to take a step forward after a promising rookie campaign in 2017. Instead, Reeves-Maybin didn’t see a significant increase in workload and even with less snaps graded out significantly worse than his previous year. The old durability issues came up again and he finished the season on IR. It’s hard for me to see a role in this defense for him.

Brandon Reilly, WR: Stock Down

See Brian Brown. Same report.

Theo Riddick, RB: Stock Down

Riddick posted a career low in yards per reception, but a career high in yards per carry. The issue with Riddick now is if his value to the team matches the value they’d gain in cutting him. His contract is manageable, but the emergence of Kerryon Johnson largely necessitated Riddick becoming more of a bit player than he already was. Putting up his lowest yards from scrimmage since 2014 and never making it to the end zone once in 2018 may signal a move on from Riddick with a new offensive coordinator in 2019.

Michael Roberts, TE: Stock Down

Roberts had one fantastic game on the season where he was a featured red zone weapon and dangerous target. Outside of that sole game in Miami, he was an outright disaster. He dropped passes, committed penalties, and struggled as a blocker. Cost may see him back in 2019, but I doubt he ever finds a role on offense even with a new coordinator.

A’Shawn Robinson, DT: Stock Up

Robinson has been a decent player for the Lions, but he started the year a healthy scratch with some randos getting snaps over him. He stormed back onto the scene fairly quickly thereafter, but it was after Damon Harrison came to town that Robinson really came into his own. The two formed a brick wall in the middle of the Lions front that was difficult to overcome, and if he’s healthy in 2019, it’s going to be difficult to justify runs up the middle against them.

Jake Rudock, QB: Stock Down

The Lions look to be going in a different direction at quarterback. As of the time of this writing, Rudock was the only practice squad quarterback in the NFL who had not signed a futures deal.

DeShawn Shead, CB: Stock Down

Shead was signed and many, including myself, were fooled into thinking he would contend for a starting job. He failed to make the roster and a very short time later it was clear that if he couldn’t make THIS roster, then what value could he possibly have? He would be signed after injuries started to mount, but he was a pretty constant liability for the most part, and I doubt we see him around again.

Kelvin Sheppard, LB: Stock Down

Expectations weren’t super high for the late addition of Kelvin Sheppard, but he failed to even meet that. I don’t expect to see him in 2019.

Darius Slay, CB: Stock Down

Slay made his second Pro Bowl and that’s great. He also struggled for most of the year both with his play and with injuries. It seemed like Slay left the field at least once in every game to get looked at by the trainers, and with injuries to his brain, ankle, and knee throughout the year, it was a rough one. Hoping he bounces back with another year in the system, but this wasn’t his best year and the injuries concern me.

Matthew Stafford, QB: Stock Down

We don’t often seriously look at replacing Matthew Stafford because in most seasons it’s frankly ridiculous. It’s still to do so in 2019, considering both the cost to move on and the chances of replacing him with this year’s crop of quarterbacks in a weak draft class, but it’s not out of the question moving forward. The chances are still low, but they’re high enough that I’ve had to adjust my schedule for scouting to account for including more quarterbacks going forward.

Justin Stockton, RB: Stock Down

The Lions’ RB corps isn’t great and practice squadder Justin Stockton wasn’t signed to a futures deal. Not great.

Teez Tabor, CB: Stock Down

Teez Tabor busted harder than anyone expected. Two years, more than 20 games, hundreds of snaps, and not a single pass defended. Not one. He’s still improving every week according to the coaches, but at this rate and considering the on-field product, all that means is that we might get another tackle or two by 2019, and it’s far more likely he’s cut before getting that chance. A reminder to all those that told me “you can’t measure heart” when I talked about athletic ability for cornerbacks, while you can’t measure heart you can measure on-field production and we’ve seen plenty.

Levine Toilolo, TE: Stock Up

The Lions tight end group was a mess and that includes Levine Toilolo. Finishing the year with a couple of decent showings means I wouldn’t cry too hard if he was brought back in 2019... to be the TE3. TE3 isn’t great, but it’s better than any other tight end currently rostered by the Lions.

Dee Virgin, CB: Stock Down

Virgin spent several weeks on this roster and even saw game day activity, but he never showed enough promise to get any playing time on defense... On this team... With this secondary.

Rick Wagner, OT: Stock Down

Wagner started off the season really hot but was unable to maintain that momentum as the season wore on. He still finished the season as one of the best right tackles in the NFL, but with injuries taken into account, right tackle is a position to watch in 2019. Wagner’s contract contains an out in 2020, and the cap hit is pretty tough to swallow this coming season. Tyrell Crosby wasn’t drafted to sit on the bench eternally, and if he looks good next year, it’s going to be tough to keep Wagner on his contract even if he plays decently.

Tracy Walker, FS: Stock Up

Walker finished 2019 as one of the highest-graded Lions on defense per PFF, and it wasn’t hard to see why whenever he was on the field. Walker’s speed is incredible and his range is near the top of the league. His play eventually forced the Lions to start cutting snaps from Glover Quin, who has been one of the best in the league, and it looks like a bright future for Walker if he keeps up that development.

Charles Washington, SS: Stock Down

Washington had some big shoes to fill. All he had to do was come in and provide value where Don Carey had in years prior. No biggie. Washington was well liked, but the special teams unit was nothing short of a disaster for most of the season. Penalties mounted and it seemed at times as if they were asked to hold and block guys in the back. Washington may have a chance to redeem himself in 2019, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Kenny Wiggins, OG: Stock Up

Look, Wiggins wasn’t good and I won’t try to sugarcoat his play in any manner. It was a significant dropoff from T.J. Lang and there were some serious “throw your remote at the television” moments with him. Still, he played tough and was able to stay on the field. As a reserve lineman, you don’t really want to see him for extended periods, but Wiggins proved himself to be an able stop gap and that’s valuable. I don’t want to see him start ever again, but having him there when a starter goes down ain’t that bad.

Luke Willson, TE: Stock Down

I think fans had some unrealistic expectations for Willson from the jump. Fans loathed Eric Ebron and many thought any schlub could walk in and produce at the same level. Likewise, Willson was a generally likeable character and the idea that his production was limited because he played behind Jimmy Graham seemed plausible. Willson finished the year with career lows in almost every stat but starts, and it’s unlikely we see him return in 2019.

Tavon Wilson, SS: Stock Down

Another year, another season where injuries are a big part of life for Tavon Wilson. He managed to make it through without heading to IR this time, which is a great change up and a good sign for him, but it took cutting his snaps in half for that to happen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wilson, who has a lot of versatility to his credit, back on the roster in 2019 but that says more about Miles Killebrew than it does Wilson.

Jonathan Wynn, DE: Stock Up

The team brought Wynn in for a futures deal and he fits a lot of what they like to do. With how up in the air the edge positions are, he has a shot to challenge for a roster spot in 2019 and as a UDFA that’s better than most.

Zach Zenner, RB: Stock Up

His final statistics are going to make it seem like Zenner played a lot better than he actually did, but don’t let that distract from the fact he played pretty well overall. Well enough to jump to a clear cut RB2 spot? No, not at all. But well enough that I’d expect to see him in camp 2019. If, for some reason, it’s not with the Lions, then I would expect someone to give him a shot to be sure.