Our countdown of the Detroit Lions’ 90-man roster has now reached the point where the players listed are firmly on the roster bubble. While expectations remain low for the following players, a couple of them may squeeze their way onto the 53-man roster and by the season’s end, who knows? Maybe they even become somewhat regular contributors either on special teams or on their side of the ball.
Don’t believe me? Here are some players that were on last year’s list from 70-61: John Atkins, Isaac Nauta and Dee Virgin.
So let’s take a look at the players we ranked from 70 to 61 on this year’s squad.
70. LB Anthony Pittman (Highest rank: 66, Lowest rank: 85)
Last year: 87
Last year, Pittman joined the Lions as one of the more notable undrafted rookies. Though there wasn’t a lot of optimism surrounding him among our staff, some believed he was a potential long-term project. Pittman indeed didn’t make the roster, and he spent most of 2019 on—and sometimes completely off—the practice squad.
However, for the season finale, Pittman was promoted to the 53-man roster and even found 17 defensive snaps against the Packers.
Given Detroit’s depth, Pittman is a longshot to make the roster, but another year of incubating on the practice squad could lead to future opportunities.
69. S Bobby Price (High: 61, Low: 78)
Price has a long ways to go to crack the roster as an undrafted rookie, but he does have one thing going for him ...
Coming from Norfolk State, there are no realistic expectations for Price to play in 2020, but with an athletic profile like that, why not give him a year to grow on the practice squad?
68. DL Jashon Cornell (High: 66, Low: 74)
The Lions’ final draft pick in 2020 couldn’t crack the top 53 on our list. Cornell wasn’t a starter at Ohio State until his final year, when he managed a decent 4.0 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
He’s still learning a new position after the Buckeyes moved him from defensive end inside to a three-tech defensive tackle. Cornell’s upside is Da’Shawn Hand, but he’s still probably at least a year away from showing that potential.
67. DE Jonathan Wynn (High: 63, Low: 74)
Last year: 89
After an unsuccessful stint on the Vikings training camp squad in 2018, Wynn jumped to Detroit last year. He didn’t make the 53-man roster and spent most of the year on the practice squad.
Like Pittman, he was promoted to the active roster late in the year, but only got seven defensive snaps on the season. A solid athlete, Wynn will have to prove he’s improved substantially to challenge someone like Romeo Okwara for a roster spot.
66. LB Elijah Lee (High: 57, Low: 86)
A late free agency signing, Lee is a bit overlooked in Detroit’s linebacker room. He played in 38 games over the past three years with the 49ers, including six starts. Though mostly a special teams guy, Lee had 65 tackles in 2018 and three tackles for loss.
At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Lee isn’t the prototypical linebacker the Lions like, but he could certainly challenge for the roster spot of Jalen Reeves-Maybin or Miles Killebrew if he proves his special teams skills are valuable enough.
65. CB Tony McRae (High: 56, Low: 71)
Speaking of special teams, Tony McRae has a good chance to make the roster on that alone. He has a shared history with new Lions special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs in Cincinnati, and he can also play nickel, as well.
64. QB David Blough (High: 51, Low: 78)
I guess the staff wasn’t all that impressed by Blough’s five starts to finish the 2019 season. During that time, Blough completed just 54.0 percent of his passes for 5.7 yards per attempt, four touchdowns and six interceptions (64.0 passer rating).
The Lions liked Blough enough to trade for him last year, but do they still like him enough to carry him on the 53-man roster?
63. CB Dee Virgin (High: 53, Low: 72)
Last year: 64
No one logged more special teams snaps than Virgin last year (360), and it earned him an exclusive rights free agency deal this offseason. The 26-year-old cornerback has only logged one defensive snap for Detroit in two years, though. With the addition of a guy like McRae, Virgin’s spot on the roster is far from guaranteed in 2020.
62. CB Darryl Roberts (High: 47, Low: 72)
Another offseason addition to the secondary, Roberts comes with the most defensive experience short of Desmond Trufant. In four years with the Jets, Roberts made 26 starts, tallied 27 passes defended and three interceptions.
Last offseason, the Jets handed him a three-year, $18 million extension, but they cut him almost exactly a year later. Roberts’ once-promising career certainly took a hit last year, but I think he has a good shot at the 53-man roster in Detroit, despite his low ranking here.
61. WR Travis Fulgham (High: 56, Low: 64)
Last year: 47
A rare instance in which a 2019 rookie takes a step down in our rankings. The reasoning is simple. Last year’s sixth-round pick spent most of the season on the practice squad, despite making the initial 53-man roster. With the offseason additions of rookie Quintez Cephus and Geronimo Allison, it’s hard to see how he makes the roster this year. Heck, even Chris Lacy showed a little more promise last year.