As we head towards training camp, no players will have more to prove than those in the middle of the roster. Many of the players featured in our Detroit Lions roster ranking countdown from 50 to 41 will not only have to prove they’re worth a spot on the 53-man roster, but they’ll need to justify being part of the game plan, too.
Before we jump in, be sure to catch up in our countdown:
50. LB Miles Killebrew (High: 42, Low: 62)
Last year: 36
Killebrew continues his slide. Just two years ago, we considered Killebrew the 20th best player on the roster. Now, he’s firmly on the bubble.
I list him as a linebacker, even though he’s continued to be listed as a safety on the official roster. But he only practices with the linebackers, and Detroit has a surplus of safeties.
Killebrew doesn’t really fit the mold of a big linebacker, so he’ll have to prove his worth on special teams, as he has done for the majority of his career.
49. RB Ty Johnson (High: 42, Low: 61)
Everyone loves a skill position draft pick. Ty Johnson does, admittedly, bring some intrigue. His speed is undeniable, but where exactly would that fit into the Lions’ gameplan? Could he simply be a kick returner with some home-running hitting potential on offense? Does he possess enough versatility as a runner to be worth not only a 53-man roster spot, but a gameday roster spot as the team’s kick returner?
This will be an extremely important training camp for Johnson, because the competition in the running backs room is tough.
48. CB Mike Ford (High: 39, Low: 67)
Last year: 66
Mike Ford takes one of the biggest jumps of anyone on the list. The reasoning likely has to do with the fact that Ford unexpectedly got some playing time last year after Detroit figured out their outside cornerbacks on the roster weren’t playing so hot.
Though he originally didn’t make the roster and was delegated to the practice squad, Ford was promoted in November and ended up starting four games for Detroit. His performance wasn’t exactly good (49.0 PFF grade), but it was a step up from some of the other players on the Lions’ depth chart (see: Teez Tabor).
47. WR Travis Fulgham (High: 37, Low: 65)
Another rookie skill position player, Travis Fulgham enters a crowded receiver room. Detroit’s top three receivers are pretty much set with Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. Jermaine Kearse likely has the leg up on WR4. Beyond that, who knows? It’s unclear how many receivers the Lions will carry, but Fulgham will have to prove he’s more valuable than the likes of Tommylee Lewis, Andy Jones, and Brandon Powell, among others. Fulgham has a few things working in his favor: youth and size.
46. EDGE Austin Bryant (High: 38, Low, 58)
It’s a little surprising to see the Lions’ fourth-round pick this low on the list, but that may have to do with the fact that not much is expected of Bryant in his rookie year. He didn’t practice much at all during OTAs and minicamp due to pectoral surgery, and his role on the team is likely already filled by Devon Kennard.
Bryant could potentially start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, although linebackers coach Al Golden made it sound like he was close to practicing back in May.
45. S Charles Washington (High: 40, Low: 51)
Last year: 51
The Lions will face an extremely tough decision with Charles Washington this year. As previously alluded to, the Lions have a pretty crowded safety room. And while Washington has proven to be an extremely valuable commodity on special teams, he’s yet to show himself capable of playing safety if the team is in a pinch.
That being said, both general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia have made it clear they value special teams more than most, and that could lead Washington to another year on the roster.
44. S Andrew Adams (High: 33, Low: 58)
Adams is one of those players Washington will be competing against for a final roster spot. Adams, too, bring special teams value, but has a lot more experience on defense. He started 13 games as an undrafted rookie in 2016 and had a career-high four interceptions with the Buccaneers last year. And at $920,000, he’s a pretty cheap option to take Washington’s roster spot this year. At this point, you have to think he has a leg up.
43. LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (High: 30, Low: 55)
Last year: 29
Reeves-Maybin has some work to do to prove he’s worthy of a roster spot this year. Although the Lions aren’t particularly deep at linebacker, the former fourth-round pick was a much better fit on the team under the previous coaching staff. The Lions like their linebackers big and strong, and Reeves-Maybin has always been the quicker, faster type.
That being said, he’s apparently put on some extra weight this year and still brings some special teams value. I wouldn’t count him out just yet.
42. WR Andy Jones (High: 37, Low: 59)
Last year: 74
Maybe the biggest leap of all came from Andy Jones last year. Jones started the year on the PUP list, and was almost immediately waived when he finally came back from injury. Then after a short stint on the practice squad, the Lions brought Jones up and he ended up starting the final three games of the season. Though he only had 11 catches for 80 yards and a score, some believe he showed enough to be given a real chance in 2019.
The early returns are positive. While Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay sat out OTAs this past spring, Jones consistently played with the first-team offense and looked somewhat comfortable. Still, he has a ton of work to prove he’s worthy of a roster spot.
41. TE Logan Thomas (High: 34, Low: 54)
After the release of Michael Roberts, it appears Logan Thomas is firmly the team’s third tight end. In fact, I would argue his roster spot is pretty close to a lock at this point. The quarterback-turned-tight end showed promise at his new position in Buffalo but is still very much a work in progress.