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Monday open thread: How many draft picks will make the final roster?

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The Lions added nine players in the draft, but how many will make the final 53?

NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Houston Texans John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is all about risk versus reward. Teams spend their draft capital looking for players that can make an impact for them in the near future. The Detroit Lions had a deep draft class in 2019, and there are plenty of players looking to earn a role on this team.

The gem of the class in T.J. Hockenson. While the eighth overall pick might be rich for a tight end, there’s no question that Hockenson brings an instant upgrade to the Lions’ offense as both a receiver and blocker. He has the potential to be one of the best tight ends in the league, and his early work is promising.

Jahlani Tavai was drafted earlier than many expected, but the Lions’ staff seemed quite intrigued by the linebacker’s skill set. He isn’t the quickest player on the defense, but he’s a solid tackler with a lot of versatility for Matt Patricia’s team.

Will Harris joins a somewhat crowded safety group, but his elite athletic profile makes him a valuable prospect for the future. As for the present, there’s a lot of be excited about from the third round pick. He put on an excellent performance against Houston, scoring the Lions’ first touchdown of the preseason.

Austin Bryant comes from a Clemson defense that terrorized college offenses, but he’ll be without Clelin Ferrell (fourth overall pick), Christian Wilkins (13th overall pick), and Dexter Lawrence (17th overall pick). Bryant is nursing an injury this preseason, but there’s optimism that he’ll be ready for the regular season. He figures to add depth to a defense lacking pass rushing talent.

Amani Oruwariye hasn’t looked very good this preseason, but he should be a long-term option to start across from Darius Slay. Many projected him to be a second round pick, so there’s clearly a lot of intriguing tools for him to work with.

Travis Fulgham is one of eight receivers battling for the fourth (and maybe fifth) wide receiver spots on the roster. After a very quiet training camp and opening game versus the Patriots, Fulgham showcased why the Lions drafted him, nabbing three catches for 53 yards, including this beauty:

Ty Johnson’s brings an element of speed that few on the Lions possess. With the departure of Theo Riddick, there’s room for Johnson to make a mark in the backfield. He had a quiet night against Houston, though he might be a change-of-pace option for the Lions going forward during the season.

Isaac Nauta has struggled this preseason and it could cost him as roster spot. Drops have been an issue for Nauta, and without consistent blocking to make up for it, he’ll likely face competition from the likes of Jerome Cunningham, Logan Thomas, and Austin Traylor.

P.J. Johnson’s path to the roster is muddied right now, as fellow defensive linemen John Atkins, Fredrick Jones, and Kevin Strong are all vying for the same spot as the last defensive tackle on the roster. This battle could come down to the final game of the preseason.

Overall, the Lions have plenty to be optimistic about. Their early round rookies are playing well so far, while the late round ones are still growing. However, with a 53 player roster limit, there might be some tough cuts to make down the road.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

How many draft picks will make the final roster?

My answer: In my mind, Hockenson, Tavai, Harris, Bryant, and Oruwariye are roster locks. Bryant hasn’t been able to play, and Oruwariye hasn’t played well, but both are valuable long-term assets to the team, and they would likely be claimed if subjected to the waiver wire.

Ty Johnson is likely to claim a roster spot, barring the Lions opting to keep just four running backs (Kerryon Johnson, C.J. Anderson, Zach Zenner, and Nick Bawden). I think he has shown enough during camp to be claimed if cut.

Of the remaining three players, I think Fulgham has the best chances to make the roster, but I’d put his odds at 50/50. There is a lot of competition at the wide receiver position, and no clear front runner has emerged through two games. Fulgham likely has a leg up over most of the players due to his draft status, but the Lions might opt for a receiver with a different skill set.

I don’t think Nauta or P.J. Johnson will make the roster. Being a seventh round pick doesn’t guarantee a spot by any means, but neither of these players have played well enough to secure a spot so far. The Lions have a few undrafted players playing similarly, if not better, than them. They are both practice squad candidates, and neither have impressed enough to worry that they will be claimed. Even if they are claimed, I don’t think it would be a significant loss.

Your turn.


How many draft picks will make the final roster?

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