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Ranking the Detroit Lions 2020 roster: The starter bubble (40-31)

Our ranking of the Lions’ 2020 roster continues.

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

As we break into the top 40 in our countdown of the Detroit Lions’ 2020 roster, we’re starting to see some players that will actually have a significant impact on the team’s success this season. While most of the players on today’s list will only have subpackage or special teams roles, some will actually be contending for starting jobs.

If the injury bug—or pandemic—hits this roster in an especially cruel way, these are the players you can expect to fill in. So while these guys may not get the kind of attention of the top 30 players on the roster, sometimes they can be just as important when a position group inevitably gets hit hard by injury luck.

Without further ado, here are players we ranked from 40 to 31 on the Lions roster.

Reminder about our methodology: Five Pride of Detroit writers ranked the roster from 1 to 90. Those rankings were then averaged to create a master list.


40. FB Nick Bawden (Highest ranking: 33, Lowest ranking: 58)

Last year: 39

Bawden may be the only pure fullback on the roster, but he is firmly on the roster bubble right now. With tight end Isaac Nauta at least a little capable at fullback, the Lions may choose the more versatile player over Bawden.

Still, Bawden was a Bob Quinn draft pick and he’s essentially coming off his rookie year after missing all of 2018. It’s not over for him yet, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell won’t shy away from using a fullback at times. If Bawden sticks around, he’ll have a significant role this year.

39. WR Marvin Hall (High: 28, Low: 47)

Last year: N/A

When the Lions signed Hall to the practice squad just after their initial roster cuts, it was mostly an afterthought. Not many expected to ever see Hall jump onto the active roster, let alone contribute anything meaningful on offense.

And while he only caught seven passes last year, he turned it into 261 yards, and distanced himself from the rest of the receiver group as one of Detroit’s best deep, speedy options.

The Lions brought in some stiff competition this year to challenge Hall, but after showing his big-play potential last year, he’s got the inside track to a roster spot.

38. QB Chase Daniel (High: 34, Low: 44)

Last year: N/A

After shuffling through every quarterback in their rolodex last year, the Lions landed on Chase Daniel as their backup for the next couple years. Daniel has only started three games over the past five seasons—and five in his entire 10-year career—but he’ll serve as a decent voice in the quarterback room given his film room experience.

37. LB Christian Jones (High: 24, Low: 64)

Last year: 23

Jones takes a pretty steep fall from last year’s rankings likely due to the overall struggles from the linebacking corps. Jones didn’t do himself any favors, either, earning just a 44.0 PFF grade last season.

The Lions responded by... giving him a two-year extension in November. They clearly value him for his versatility, and that will likely earn him some playing time in 2020, but he’ll have to improve to contend with some of the new additions at linebacker.

36. TE Jesse James (High: 31, Low: 50)

Last year: 20

Easily the biggest disappointment from the 2019 season, James saw a 16-player drop in our rankings this year. Clearly some still have hope that James can simply recapture the momentum his career was gaining in Pittsburgh, but there wasn’t much optimism to take from his last season.

Given Detroit’s lack of significant moves at tight end this offseason, James shouldn’t see a decrease in opportunities in 2020.

35. LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (High: 31, Low: 53)

Last year: 43

Reeves-Maybin was primarily a reserve in 2020, but one reason he may have taken a jump in our rankings from last year is his special teams skills. After contributing to just 159 special teams snaps in 2018, that number nearly doubled last year (308).

He’ll have to hold onto that special teams role to make the team this year, but with the shortened offseason he may have a better shot than some of the newcomers like Reggie Ragland.

34. G Logan Stenberg (High: 29, Low: 41)

Last year: N/A

The Lions’ fourth-round pick was not part of the Lions’ original plans during draft day. Having already traded up for Ohio State guard Jonah Jackson, Stenberg was not a position Detroit was looking to add in the next round. However, he proved to be a talent too good to refuse:

“It wasn’t a need-based picked, it was just kind of, ‘Hey, this is the best guy on the board,’” Lions general manager Bob Quinn said after the draft.

That likely mean Stenberg will not be a starter in 2020 unless Detroit has an injury situation on their offensive line. However, he should play into their long-term plans.

33. OT Tyrell Crosby (High: 31, Low: 45)

Last year: 36

Crosby has firmly entrenched himself as the backup swing tackle on the roster, and that’s a fairly big accomplishment for a fifth-round pick just two years into his NFL career. He basically enters training camp without much competition for that backup job, so expect to see him on the front lines should Taylor Decker or Halapoulivaati Vaitai suffer an injury.

32. LB Jarrad Davis (High: 20, Low: 52)

Last year: 18

Here’s a look at the trajectory of Jarrad Davis in these rankings:

2017: 19
2018: 19
2019: 18
2020: 32

Not exactly the kind of growth you’d like to see for a first-round draft pick. But its this year, specifically, that many seemed to have lost hope for good. Maybe it’s the additions of Jahlani Tavai and Jamie Collins Sr. in the past two seasons, both of whom will threaten playing time for Davis. Maybe it’s just another year of disappointing play on the field.

31. RB Bo Scarbrough (High: 23, Low: 42)

Last year: N/A

Scarbrough quickly became a fan favorite after jumping from a practice squad addition to the starting lineup in a matter of 11 days. In his first career NFL start, he rushed for 55 yards and a touchdown, and the next two games he earned a total of 181 yards.

Scarbrough offered a hard-nosed running style that is always popular with the fanbase and proved to be somewhat useful late in the season. Given that Detroit hasn’t added a running back of that style this offseason, Scarbrough seems like he should be safe from roster cuts, but with D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson on the roster, he likely won’t see many opportunities in 2020.

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