Like we’ve done every season, we take this time before camp (technically for me, since they announced the open Thursday practice before I could attend, the jerks) to take preliminary stock of the Detroit Lions roster. It’s refreshing to look back at where we thought the roster was at the time and what we could get ourselves excited over going forward.
Sometimes it’s funny, like thinking that Da’Shawn Hand would have a hard time cracking the starting lineup, or how great Chris Lacy looked. Instead of doing a straight stock report this time, I’m going to instead look at where I think each player on the roster is starting in relation to training camp. This is setting my own expectations, so my daily stock reports throughout camp will have a little more context, but also getting some name recognition out there since we’re going to cover every single player on the roster.
Stock Steady Up
These are the guys whose stock is high and expected to remain so. This is not a ranking, so don’t read too much into the order. These are the guys with high expectations who haven’t given any indications that their star should fall anytime soon.
Graham Glasgow, OG: An underappreciated player on the roster, Glasgow is one of the Lions’ best offensive players while still being one of the least talked about. A move to guard again should see his play improve from solid to good.
Justin Coleman, CB: Any time you sign a player considered top five at his position, you expect big things. Coleman isn’t the best nickel in the business, but Lions fans are going to expect that after his contract was signed.
Quandre Diggs, SS: Diggs is coming off a recent extension and fans are reasonably excited about his play. Can he build on his previous success, or at the very least sustain it?
Romeo Okwara, DE: Okwara started most of 2018 and got a bunch of sacks. His pass rushing grade was terrible, but he’s expected to improve off of that, and getting more sacks will negate any grade he gets.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT: One of the consensus top players on the roster, all Robinson needs to do now is make that a concept with some meat behind it.
Matt Prater, K: Prater is still Prater.
Jarrad Davis, LB: Davis’ expectations are reasonably high, but I think that in terms of fan expectations they are lower than they should be. It’s a weird situation, but he has to improve his play by a large amount to see any returns.
Matthew Stafford, QB: Stafford is expected to bounce back from his play in his back-broken season. Let’s see if he can do it.
C.J. Anderson, RB: Anderson often rushes for more than 4.0 YPC, so that is where his expectations are at starting in this offense.
Kerryon Johnson, RB: Johnson rushed for a crazy YPC and his overall play was awesome. So we expect that or better from the former Auburn RB.
T.J. Hockenson, TE: As the highest-drafted tight end of the past few decades, Hockenson is projected to do well. And he better.
Jesse James, TE: James is expected to be the easy No. 1 due to a rookie or the easy No. 2 if the rookie performs well, but those are some high expectations.
Kenny Golladay, WR: Golladay had his career best season in 2018, can he do so again in 2019?
Marvin Jones Jr., WR: Jones has a lot of potential, but for where he is in his career we would expect more out of him.
Danny Amendola. WR: Amendola comes in with many projecting career highs with Stafford throwing to him. Can he live up to that hype?
Darius Slay, CB: Slay is awesome. Can he keep being awesome?
Damon Harrison, DT: Snacks is awesome. Can he keep being awesome?
Trey Flowers, DE: Flowers is known for pressuring the QB. Can he show that he can do anything more than just being an ‘almost’ good player?
The players who have flown below the radar, but are trending upwards, these are the players I’ve heard good things about that maybe aren’t as expected to be doing as well.
Marcus Cooper, CB: Cooper has some fans coming into the season and he’s done little to push him further down the roster. A sleeper to make the roster, he’ll have to do a lot more to make some real waves.
Tracy Walker, FS: I think some fans simply didn’t realize just how good Tracy Walker played when he saw the field in 2018. Spoilers, it was really good. We want more.
Mitchell Loewen, DE: Loewen isn’t expected to do a whole lot, but he’s surprisingly a guy I’ve heard good things about. My expectations aren’t super high, but they’re better than nothing, and that’s an improvement.
Da’Shawn Hand, DE: I was gonna put him in the previous section, but the injury gives me pause. Healthy, Hand could be a top 5 DL in the NFL. Straight. Up.
Kevin Strong, DT: Nobody expected anything from Kevin Strong, but as almost the only defensive tackle prospect who hasn’t been on the PUP/NFI, he’s got a chance to turn some heads.
Nick Bawden, FB: Bawden was expected to barely miss out on a roster spot, but now that he’s healthy, he’s showing that blocking for multiple 2,000 yard rushers isn’t a fluke.
Joe Dahl, OG/OT/OC/FB: I mean, any time you see a guy who’s the backup for six different positions, you wonder if he can start. Probably not.
Kenny Wiggins, OG: Wiggins hasn’t had a lot of negative news about his play.
I don’t know what to do with it.
Frank Ragnow, OC: Ragnow was projected to be an All-Pro center. After playing 2018 at guard, it’s intriguing to see if he can make it.
Sam Martin, P: Martin looks like he’s back to form. And we should expect him to be.
Ty Johnson, RB: Johnson’s speed has gotten some notice, but he needs to carry that over to the preseason to challenge for a roster spot, let alone a bigger role.
Andrew Adams, FS: Adams has some defensive play worth looking into, but is it enough to challenge for a roster spot?
Will Harris, SS: Harris was a surprise early-round selection, but can he make that pick worth it?
Taylor Decker, OT: Barely making this section (because I decided to not have a neutral section), Decker has a lot of work to do in 2019.
Travis Fulgham, WR: Fulgham has a shot to make the Lions’ sixth-round pick a lot better through experience, but we have yet to see it.
Andy Jones, WR: Jones can block, immediately setting himself aside as a prospect. Can he also catch and run routes?
Chris Lacy, WR: Lacy has been slowing climbing amongst the Lions faithful, but he has a chance to jump to the front of the line.
Maybe it’s a guy who has a starting role in question. Maybe it’s someone who hasn’t lived up to their billing. These are the players I expect to fall, even though they may have higher expectations.
Leo Koloamatangi, OC: I have long been a fan of Leo Koloamatangi. Despite poor metrics, his tape told a story of a guy who could develop into a starter if given time. The Lions have put in the time, he needs to show some worth in that investment.
Jamal Agnew, CB: The Lions signed a new starting nickelback stifling any real development for Jamal Agnew on defense. His role might be limited to special teams as a returner, and the NFL is doing their best to limit that impact on their own.
Mike Ford, CB: After improving, slightly, a terrible position in 2018, many fans expected a strong start to 2019. Ford is repping at the bottom of the depth chart, and it looks like his road to a roster spot won’t be an easy one.
Rashaan Melvin, CB: Melvin was signed to a contract that looked like he might be in the mix to start and he’s repped like that, but his play has yet to live up to that billing, looking more like his 2018 play rather than his more promising 2017 play.
Amani Oruwariye, CB: Oruwariye came prepackaged with a lot of higher expectations despite his low draft status. He has yet to justify even the slightest of hype, priming him for disappointment in fan’s eyes.
Eric Lee, DE: Lee wasn’t exactly starting up very high, but reports of where he has been repping in camp don’t exactly paint a rosy picture.
John Atkins, DT: Atkins doesn’t really have high expectations, but he was at least expected to be the second-team nose tackle. And I haven’t gotten the feeling he’s locked that down.
Beau Benzschawel, OG: No reason to think he’s really impressed, prize UDFA Beau Benzschawel has been around, but not enough to challenge for a starting role in a weak group.
Malik Carney, LB: Expectations aren’t super high, but they’re high enough that no news is notably a negative. (Note: Carney started training camp working with trainers during the opening practice.)
Christian Jones, LB: Jones isn’t starting, and that’s notable.
Devon Kennard, LB : On the one hand, nothing bad has been said about Kennard. On the other hand, I’ve heard more about guys who could supplant him than his own play.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB: Not much to say, JRM has yet to justify his investment or any play he’s done since playing in the NFL.
Jahlani Tavai, LB: The only news I’ve seen so far is Tavai getting beaten by T.J. Hockenson. That’s not a lot to go on, so let’s wait here.
Don Muhlbach, LS: Muhlbach can only go down.
Oday Aboushi, OG: Not much on the starter front, but given Aboushi’s low rating prior to joining the Lions there isn’t much confidence he’ll do well.
Tyrell Crosby, OT: Crosby didn’t move the needle northward, so where does he stand on the roster aside from backup tackle?
Theo Riddick, RB: Riddick has seen some criticism, but it’s barely enough to challenge his roster spot, and that’s worse than last season.
Zach Zenner, RB: With the signing of C.J. Anderson, the role of Zach Zenner is less clear. Can he make his position worth a roster spot?
Miles Killebrew, LB/SS: Killebrew started off strong in the NFL, but his play has dropped since then. Can he make his roster spot indispensable even if it’s just on special teams play?
Rick Wagner, OT: Wagner didn’t perform how many fans expected in 2018, so he’s going to have to take a step forward to make the season without calls for his replacement.
Logan Thomas, TE: Thomas got some hype when he took TE3 reps in camp, but he has yet to justify that in front of a bigger crowd.
Jermaine Kearse, WR: Kearse had some serious production and efficiency with the Seahawks, but he has yet to capture either as a Lion.
Steve Longa, LB: After an injury ended 2018, Longa faces a long road to the roster. If he can build on his special teams role in 2017 and find some semblance of reserve LB capability, he might find a spot in 2019.
Stock Steady Down
Sometimes players just aren’t expected to do well. Sometimes they don’t do anything to change those expectations. These are the guys who were already trending downwards or who were already lacking in expectations, but in any event aren’t looking to improve their odds.
Andre Chachere, CB: Chachere is probably the last corner on the roster, and his battle to find even a special teams spot is an uphill one.
Teez Tabor, CB: If you walked onto an NFL field and put a literal end table at the corner position, it would have the same statistics as Teez Tabor has had as a pro (a perfect NFL passer rating and no pass deflections). He’s done little to change that concept.
Dee Virgin, CB: Did you expect anything out of Dee Virgin? Neither did I. He’s repping near the bottom of the depth chart, as expected, so he’s got a lot of work to do.
Austin Bryant, DE: I’m probably lower on Bryant than most are, but regardless of my pre-draft eval, we have yet to see any indication that Bryant will have any impact as a rookie due to injury during OTAs and minicamp.
Jonathan Wynn, DE: Wynn is probably pretty close to the last man on the 90 man roster, so he can only really move up, right?
P.J. Johnson, DT: Johnson doesn’t come with some big expectations, but for some reason there are folks who are crowning P.J. Johnson the next Damon Harrison. So kudos to them.
Ray Smith, DT: Smith is a practice squad candidate. Anything beyond that is a bonus.
Micah St. Andrew: St. Andrew comes in with a poor athletic profile and poor scouting reports, so I don't’ expect much.
Garret Dooley, LB: I don’t expect much. So anything would be an improvement.
Tre Lamar, LB: I don’t expect much from Lamar, who measured slower than most OL during the pre-draft process.
Anthony Pittman, LB: Low expectations, low returns so far.
Luke Bowanko, OL: I don’t expect much. I haven’t seen much. Let me know if he’s shown friggin anything.
Andrew Donnal, OT: Low expectations that he has met, I don’t expect Donnal to challenge for any kind of roster spot.
Ryan Santoso, P: Santoso has to beat out Martin and that doesn’t look close.
David Fales, QB: If you expected any more from Fales, that’s your fault.
Tom Savage, QB: If you expected much out of Savage, you should prepare for disappointment.
Mark Thompson, RB: Thompson isn’t expected to challenge for a roster spot, but given the uncertainty after the top two at his position that’s something to watch.
Tavon Wilson, SS: Wilson is projected to be a depth piece, but he’s had enough inconsistent success to suggest a more prominent role in the defense.
Matt Nelson, OT: Nelson is expected to be a practice squadder, and I see no reason to expect elsewise.
Ryan Pope, OT: Pope is expected to challenge for a practice squad spot and that’s about right.
Jerome Cunningham, TE: As the last TE on the roster, expectations aren’t high. Let’s see if he can change them.
Isaac Nauta, TE: Expectations weren’t high for the Lions seventh-round pick on offense, but his inability to catch passes in camp is a poor start and the rise of Nick Bawden isn’t a good sign for his development.
Austin Traylor, TE: Traylor isn’t expected to do a whole lot, and he’s done nothing to change that opinion.
Deontez Alexander, WR: A fan favorite due to elite measurables, Alexander has struggled to make any real moves for the roster.
Jonathan Duhart, WR: Duhart hasn’t lived up to the expectations his teammate Fulgham has set.
Tom Kennedy, WR: Kennedy looks like a guy who may sneak in a late capture call, but as a pro you’ll rarely see someone narcing on their position. If Kennedy can show up, he can set the opposing forces back a decade or more.
Brandon Powell, WR: Powell made the roster in 2018 after a strong preseason, but he had no real competition for backup slot receiver. In 2019, it’s not clear the Lions will value the starting lot very highly, let alone the backup, so it’s a tough road to the roster.
Brandon Reilly, WR: Reilly doesn’t have an easy path to a roster spot, and even if he does well in the preseason, it’s tough to see him nabbing a spot. Practice squad is the most likely road to take, but can he make it?
Darius Kilgo, DT: Kilgo is a career backup nose, can he do anything to look like more?
Tommylee Lewis, WR: Lewis is the lowest-rated vet on the roster and a longshot to make the team. Can he show himself capable of anything more?