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Detroit Lions 2020 projected depth chart

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A look at what the Lions’ current depth chart may look like.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Detroit Lions’ draft is over and the roster is set at 90 players, it’s time to do a little personnel evaluation. Where are this team’s strengths? Where are this team’s weaknesses? Where does the rookie class stand in terms of their 2020 role? And which veterans may be living on the roster bubble?

In order to do all of this, we have to make some guesses on the depth chart of the current roster. We know that Matthew Stafford is obviously the starting quarterback and that Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay are locked in at WR 1 and 2, but who will be starting at guard? Will Julian Okwara be a Week 1 starter? Who wins the backup nose tackle job?

I’ll try to answer all these questions as I take my best guess at the Detroit Lions 2020 depth chart based on their current 90-man roster.

Quarterback

  1. Matthew Stafford
  2. Chase Daniel
  3. David Blough

There is no question here. They didn’t drop $5 million guaranteed on Daniel to be an emergency quarterback. He’s the backup, David Blough continues to be the project.

Running back

  1. D’Andre Swift
  2. Kerryon Johnson
  3. Bo Scarbrough
  4. Ty Johnson
  5. Jason Huntley
  6. Wes Hills

Let the controversy begin. Now, I’m not saying Swift comes in and is the immediate starter Week 1, but I would be shocked if he isn’t getting the most touches by midseason. You have to remember that this is a completely different coaching staff on offense than the one that drafted Kerryon Johnson. New OC. New running backs coach. D’Andre Swift is their guy.

The Lions took Kerryon along slowly his rookie year, and they may do the same with Swift, but don’t get it twisted, this is his job now. He’ll share the load with Scarbrough and Johnson, but he’s be the feature.

As for Ty Johnson and Jason Huntley, they may as well be 4A and 4B. Their standing with the team may be determined in training camp.

Fullback

  1. Nick Bawden
  2. Luke Sellers

Bawden doesn’t have a firm grip on this job, but Sellers still has an uphill battle as an undrafted prospect.

Tight end

  1. T.J. Hockenson
  2. Jesse James
  3. Isaac Nauta
  4. Hunter Bryant
  5. Matt Sokol

Not much question here. Bryant may be the undrafted rookie most likely to land a roster spot due to this unit’s poor depth, but he’ll have to prove he’s better and more versatile than Nauta, who can play some fullback, too.

Outside wide receiver

  1. Kenny Golladay
  2. Marvin Jones Jr.
  3. Marvin Hall
  4. Chris Lacy
  5. Travis Fulgham
  6. Geremy Davis

After deciding not to address wide receiver until the fifth round of the draft, the Lions’ depth on the outside isn’t looking all that hot. If Golladay and Jones can remain healthy, that shouldn’t be a problem, but Jones has missed 10 games in the past two seasons.

Slot receiver

  1. Danny Amendola
  2. Quintez Cephus
  3. Geronimo Allison
  4. Tom Kennedy
  5. Victor Bolden

With the additions of Quintez Cephus and Geronimo Allison this offseason, the future of this position is clear: the Lions want to get bigger and stronger in the slot. Amendola, however, remains the incumbent, and after a solid 2019 season, it’s unlikely he gets unseated. However, this could be Cephus’ job to lose in 2021.

Offensive tackle

  1. Taylor Decker
  2. Halapoulivaati Vaitai
  3. Tyrell Crosby
  4. Dan Skipper
  5. Matt Nelson

No debate here. The Lions could probably use some more competition if they plan on keeping a fourth offensive tackle on the 53-man roster.

Interior offensive line

  1. Frank Ragnow (C)
  2. Jonah Jackson (RG)
  3. Joe Dahl (LG)
  4. Kenny Wiggins (G)
  5. Logan Stenberg (LG)
  6. Beau Benzschawel (G)
  7. Oday Aboushi (G)
  8. Russell Bodine (C)
  9. Josh Garnett (G)
  10. Caleb Benenoch (G)

This is where things get tricky. The only real thing for certain is Ragnow at center. Jonah Jackson could theoretically start at either guard spot. He played right guard for two years at Rutgers, but played left guard in his one year at Ohio State. He even has some center experience, which will likely push the one backup center on the team—Russell Bodine—off the roster. For now, I’m slotting him at right guard.

That leaves the left guard battle between 2020 starter Joe Dahl, rotational veteran Kenny Wiggins and rookie Logan Stenberg, who played solely left guard in college. Stenberg could very well win this battle, but Bob Quinn admitted he didn’t draft Stenberg with “need” in mind.

“It wasn’t a need-based picked, it was just kind of, ‘Hey, this is the best guy on the board,’” Quinn admitted.

So I don’t think he wins the battle right away, and this team clearly like both Dahl and Wiggins, as they’ve handed them each new contracts in the past year. And who knows? Maybe there won’t be a clear starter at the guard positions and we’re in for MORE ROTATIONS!

Nose Tackle

  1. Danny Shelton
  2. John Atkins
  3. John Penisini
  4. Olive Sagapolu

Shelton is the unquestioned starter, but who will rotate with him in 2020? Sixth-round pick John Penisini has a lot of promise and could be groomed into the long-term starter, but he needs to pack on a few more pounds and adjust to the next level of play. I believe he spends the year on the practice squad. The team likes Atkins a lot, even with his poor play in 2019.

Defensive tackle

  1. Da’Shawn Hand
  2. Nick Williams
  3. Kevin Strong
  4. Jashon Cornell
  5. Frank Herron

Hand and Williams will get the majority of playing time when healthy. Cornell, like Penisini, may be headed for a practice squad season, but with just okay depth, he’s got an outside chance at the 53-man roster—unless the Lions add someone like Mike Daniels in the next couple months.

Down defensive end

  1. Trey Flowers
  2. Romeo Okwara
  3. Jonathan Wynn

No question here. The Lions paid Flowers a lot of money, and the original Okwara brother will be his backup once again.

Jack linebacker

  1. Julian Okwara
  2. Austin Bryant
  3. Anthony Pittman

I believe Okwara will walk in and immediately assume a starting job here. He may not get the workload that Devon Kennard got last year (82% of snaps), but this is his position to lose. It sounds like Bryant will still have a role with the team based on recent comments from Bob Quinn, but Okwara is their guy now. Just expect more rotation at the position than last year.

Off-ball linebackers

  1. Jamie Collins Sr.
  2. Jarrad Davis
  3. Jahlani Tavai
  4. Christian Jones
  5. Reggie Ragland
  6. Miles Killebrew
  7. Jalen Reeves-Maybin
  8. Jason Cabinda
  9. Christian Sam
  10. Elijah Lee

The top four linebackers are pretty much set in stone and all are expected to play—at the very least—significant rotational roles on defense this year. After that, it’s anyone’s game. Free agent Reggie Ragland physically fits best in what they’re looking for, but Miles Killebrew, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Jason Cabinda bring solid special team skills—which we know the Lions covet.

Outside cornerback

  1. Desmond Trufant
  2. Jeff Okudah
  3. Amani Oruwariye
  4. Mike Ford
  5. Dee Virgin
  6. Darryl Roberts
  7. Michael Jackson

For now, I’m giving Trufant—a seven-year veteran—the official title of CB1, but that can certainly change in a hurry when you spend the third overall pick on an elite talent like Jeff Okudah.

The rest of the depth is pretty straightforward. Oruwariye could be solid depth if he takes a Year 2 jump, while Mike Ford and Dee Virgin are cheap special teams contributors.

Nickel cornerback

  1. Justin Coleman
  2. Jamal Agnew
  3. Tony McRae

Jamal Agnew’s hold on the backup job may not be as strong as you think. McRae has starting experience and a history with the Lions’ new special teams coordinator. If someone like Jason Huntley takes over return duties, Agnew could be the odd man out.

Strong safety

  1. Tracy Walker
  2. Will Harris
  3. Jayron Kearse
  4. Jeremiah Dinson

Not much debate here, but both Walker and Harris can drop back to the free safety role in some formations.

Free safety

  1. Duron Harmon
  2. C.J. Moore
  3. Bobby Price
  4. Jalen Elliott

Harmon was reportedly jumping up and down after learning he’d get a starting shot in Detroit following his trade this offseason, and nothing the Lions have done this offseason suggests he won’t win that job.

C.J. Moore is young and valuable on special teams, so he’ll have a big head start on his competition: two undrafted rookies.

Kicker

  1. Matt Prater

Yep.

Punter

  1. Jack Fox
  2. Arryn Siposs

Many expected the Lions to draft a punter, but they waited until the draft was over to add a player. Arryn Siposs is an interesting prospect who comes from Aussie rules football, but as an American rules football punter, he has just been okay. He doesn’t have a huge leg, but his precision is decent. He pinned 16 punts inside the 20-yard line his final season at Auburn to only three touchbacks.

That all being said Jack Fox reportedly impressed Lions coaches during a workout last year and should enter the offseason as the presumed starter.

Long snapper

  1. Don Muhlbach
  2. Steven Wirtel

No.