Our countdown of the best players on the Detroit Lions’ 89-man roster continues. With players 80 to 71, we’re talking about longshots to make the roster and players who will be in prime contention for the practice squad, if eligible.
The interesting thing about this group of players is the amount of disagreement there was with our staff. Some of the players listed below had ranges of rankings spanning over 30 spots, depending on the voting member. Remember, rankings are based on the average of seven different members of our staff.
80. S C.J. Moore (High: 72, Low: 82)
We’ve talked a couple times this week about just how stacked the Lions are at safety this year, and that’s not exactly good news for Moore, an undrafted rookie out of Ole Miss.
Moore had a promising junior season, tallying 51 tackles and three interceptions, but his senior year was cut short due to a torn pectoral. He comes to Detroit as a solid run defender, which is obviously valuable to the Lions, but he’s going to have to scrap for a spot on the practice squad.
79. QB David Fales (High: 73, Low: 85)
As you can see, we’re not exactly high on the Lions’ newest quarterback addition. After Connor Cook failed to impress during OTAs and minicamp, the Lions replaced him with journeyman David Fales.
Fales has only made three game appearances in his career—completing 31 of 48 passes for 287 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
The Lions haven’t traditionally kept three quarterbacks on their roster, and Fales doesn’t seem poised to actually challenge Tom Savage for the backup role. So Fales may be counting down his days as a member of the Detroit Lions.
78. DT Ray Smith (High: 68, Low: 86)
We’re still in the flurry of undrafted free agents in this countdown. Smith is one of two UDFA defensive tackles the Lions added this offseason (you’ll see the other shortly).
While his tape wasn’t exactly eye-popping at Boston College, his Pro Day results sure are:
Ray Smith went undrafted in the 2019 draft class.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 12, 2019
He posted a Elite #RAS with Poor size, Elite speed, Elite explosiveness, Elite agility at the DT position.
He is fighting for a role as a reserve DL for the #Lions in 2019. pic.twitter.com/OargeaTrfH
He’ll firmly be in the mix for a practice squad spot if he can translate those measurables into on-field potential.
77. C Luke Bowanko (High: 63, Low: 86)
Just a month ago, the Lions added veteran free agent Luke Bowanko—a curious move. He’s a versatile guy who has experience playing literally any position on the offensive front. However he hasn’t been a full-time starter since his rookie year.
You have to wonder if his addition may challenge the roster spots of a guy like Leo Koloamatangi or any of the other depth guys along the interior.
76. P Ryan Santoso (High: 57, Low: 89)
And so begins the debate.
Ryan Santoso has proven he has an extremely strong leg, but he hasn’t yet shown he can control it. Some argue it may be better to have him on the roster than Sam Martin because he’s not only cheaper, but he’s a decent backup option in case anything happens to kicker Matt Prater.
Some—see Andrew Kato and Kyle Yost (both ranked him 89)—just see a backup punter, which, admittedly, is a pretty boring use of a roster spot.
75. OT Ryan Pope (High: 59, Low: 87)
Ryan Pope was one of the highest priority free agents the Lions signed this offseason. Detroit gave him $145,000 guaranteed to sign with the Lions, which is a pretty massive figure for an undrafted free agent.
That being said, his spot on the roster is far from guaranteed. Detroit isn’t exactly strong in its offensive tackle depth, but they seem to like Tyrell Crosby and Andrew Donnal a lot, and chances are Pope will have to beat out one of those to make the 53-man roster.
74. WR Tom Kennedy (High: 59, Low: 86)
The former rugby player faces extremely long odds to make the final roster. He makes for a fascinating story, but aside from speed and agility, it’s hard to see exactly what Kennedy brings to the table.
That being said, he must have something the Lions want, because he earned himself a contract after being part of Detroit’s UDFA tryouts this May. He won’t make the final 53-man roster, but a spot on the practice squad is certainly possible.
73. CB Andre Chachere (High: 66, Low: 80)
Chachere earned himself a spot on the Lions roster after Detroit added him to the practice squad late in the 2018 season. Though he never made it on the field, the Lions likely promoted him to the active roster to prevent his practice squad contract from expiring after the season.
Cachere has the size the Lions like in an outside corner—6-foot, 200 pounds—and Detroit’s depth isn’t great there. Still, it will be a challenge to crack the final roster. Another year on the practice squad is more likely.
72. DE Mitchell Loewen (High: 64, Low: 86)
Loewen was claimed off waivers by the Lions with just one more game left in the 2018 season. Prior to that, Loewen spent three years with the Saints, struggling through injury after injury. He’s only made three game appearances in his career and almost exclusively on special teams.
Loewen is one of those players that must show up in practice, because his on-field production has been lacking. Even at Arkansas, Loewen bounced between tight end, fullback, linebacker and defensive tackle and wasn’t particularly productive at any of those positions. That being said, he has speed and size, and you can’t teach those things.
71. DT Kevin Strong (High: 65, Low: 82)
The other half of the Lions’ defensive tackle UDFA class, Kevin Strong comes from University of Texas-San Antonio with a pretty solid resume. For all four years at UTSA, Strong tallied at least 6.5 tackles for loss.
Strong isn’t likely to make Detroit’s final roster, but seeing as he’s getting some after-practice work with Da’Shawn Hand, there’s certainly potential for a long-term project here.