Before we get into this year’s player we ranked 31-40, I want to take a look at last year’s rankings. I noticed something pretty shocking about this part of the roster last year, and I think you’ll notice pretty quickly, too. Take a look:
31. Nevin Lawson
32. Sylvester Williams
33. Ameer Abdullah
34. Michael Roberts
35. Christian Jones
36. Miles Killebrew
37. Cornelius Washington
38. Jeremiah Ledbetter
39. Don Muhlbach
40. Levine Toilolo
Of those 10 players, seven are now completely gone from the roster, and several were gone before the season was even over.
That’s not to say our predictions were bad, but simply the Lions roster is going through some serious turmoil from last season. We’re not necessarily talking about bottom-of-the-roster guys anymore, either. These are either primary backups or rotational players.
Let’s take a look at the new set of players.
40. G Oday Aboushi (High: 36, Low: 49)
Aboushi was brought in to contend for a starting job along the offensive line. While he’s likely better served as depth in case of injury, his experience with new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell suggests he could maybe be something more than that.
Still, his tape isn’t exactly thrilling, and expectations should probably remain relatively low if Aboushi walks away from training camp as one of the five starters on the offensive line.
39. FB Nick Bawden (High: 30, Low: 58)
Last year: 49
We have yet to see Nick Bawden take a single NFL snap or even a preseason snap, but with no other (pure) fullbacks on the roster, many are hoping Bawden to assume the promise he showed at San Diego State.
During OTAs, Bawden was still sidelined from his ACL injury suffered last year, but there’s a chance he’ll be good to go at the beginning of training camp. Until then, we still have no real idea of what the Lions have in Bawden.
38. G Joe Dahl (High: 37, Low: 52)
Last year: 42
Another year, another potential season in which Joe Dahl may finally break out. The one difference this year is that Dahl actually saw some first-team snaps during organized team activities. However, smart money still has Dahl in a backup role this season.
That being said, Dahl is highly valuable because he can back up just about every spot on the line.
37. G Kenny Wiggins (High: 31, Low: 46)
Last year: 69
At the moment, Wiggins is the odds-on favorite to win the starting left guard job, as he was the primary backup on the interior offensive line last year. Coming into 2018, expectations were terribly low. He came to Detroit with poor reviews from Chargers fans and an even worse PFF grade.
His performance filling in for T.J. Lang wasn’t good, but it got a little better as the season went on, and he wasn’t a complete liability.
36. T Tyrell Crosby (High: 32, Low: 43)
Last year: 46
Well, I guess the 30s are where you put the reserve offensive linemen. Tyrell Crosby is likely the team’s primary backup at offensive tackle, but he comes with very little experience. He had two starts last year at right tackle, and it’s safe to say that kind of sample size isn’t enough to properly judge Crosby at this point in his career. One thing is for certain, however: He will not be transitioning to guard.
35. WR Jermaine Kearse (High: 32, Low: 41)
A late addition to the roster, Jermaine Kearse is your new TJ Jones. Kearse is an experienced receiver that can back up any wide receiver position, which is something the Lions’ roster lacked prior to his signing.
The Lions can have a little more confidence in their receiver depth, as Kearse is just one year removed from a 65-catch, 810-yard season.
34. RB Zach Zenner (High: 31, Low: 39)
Last year: 47
With fans down on Theo Riddick, perhaps it’s time to pass the Hype Train torch to Zach Zenner. The running back/future doctor has been a fan favorite for years now, and he’s finally worked his way onto the top 40 on our list.
For someone who has averaged less than 4.0 YPC, it can be kind of hard to see why fans are so certain he’d be a great No. 2 running back, but last season was his most impressive, rushing for 4.8 YPC on 55 carries, while adding three scores.
The Lions continue to re-sign him, and he’s certainly done a well enough job as a replacement back to justify a roster spot.
33. CB Rashaan Melvin (High: 31, Low: 38)
When the Lions signed Rashaan Melvin in free agency, it didn’t inspire a ton of confidence in Detroit’s plan for replacing Nevin Lawson. Melvin was coming off an extremely rough year that saw him butting heads (not literally) with coaches and his eventual benching.
That being said, Melvin does have a history with the Patriots and his 2017 season with the Colts was promising enough that clearly the Lions coaches think he has some of that left. That being said...
32. CB Amani Oruwariye (High: 22, Low: 45)
... a lot of Lions are higher on fifth-round pick Amani Oruwariye as the team’s potential No. 2 corner. Obviously, there’s a little more disagreement about Oruwariye’s talent—he’s a rookie after all—but of Detroit’s late-round picks, he certainly seems to have the highest ceiling.
31. P Sam Martin (High: 28, Low: 35)
Last year: 17
Much like Don Muhlbach, Sam Martin saw a pretty big decline from last year’s list. Again, that could be a good sign that Detroit’s depth is getting better, but it could also be a sign that faith in Martin is starting to slip. He had a down year after injury in 2017, and his bounce back in 2018 was not nearly as big as many were hoping. His average punt length of 44.7 yards was nowhere close to 2016’s 48.5. And his net yardage (39.2) was well short of the 44.2 mark he set a couple years back.