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Monday open thread: Will an undrafted rookie make the Lions’ roster?

Can the Lions find an undrafted contributor?

Hawaii v Washington Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Undrafted free agents have a difficult road to success in the NFL, but the Lions have a handful of players looking for a Cinderella story.

Without preseason, it can be difficult for them to impress. The Detroit Lions roster has been whittled down in recent weeks, with just five undrafted rookies remaining. Are the final five worthy of a roster spot once cut down day arrives?

Tight end Hunter Bryant is perhaps the most well-known undrafted free agent on the team, having gotten a decent amount of pre- and post-draft hype. He has been injured, but after a disappointing year from the Lions tight end group in 2019, a receiving threat like Bryant might have done enough to shine through.

Safeties Jalen Elliott and Bobby Price are competing with each other for a roster spot, so it seems unlikely that both will make the team. They are hoping to follow in the footsteps of C.J. Moore, an undrafted free agent safety that made the team last year. Special teams will be critical to them securing a spot.

Speaking of special teams, we have come to the last two undrafted rookies. Arryn Siposs has perhaps the best path to the roster. He and Jack Fox are battling for the punter position after the departure of Sam Martin in the offseason. With only training camp to go off of, the competition is neck-and-neck.

Steven Wirtel, meanwhile, has perhaps the most difficult path to the roster. He has to dethrone Don Muhlbach for the long snapper position. Muhlbach is aging, and will have to be replaced eventually, but replacing the longest tenured Lion is a significant challenge.

2019 was favorable to undrafted free agents, with four undrafted rookies made the initial 53-man roster. The Lions kept quarterback David Blough, guard Beau Benzschawel, defensive tackle Kevin Strong, and the previously mentioned safety C.J. Moore. Interestingly, all four of them have a good chance of making the roster in 2020 as well. It is unlikely that the Lions keep four again, but it shows that the Lions are willing to take the risk.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Will an undrafted free agent make the roster?

My answer: I think an undrafted free agent will make the roster, specifically Arryn Siposs.

Elliott and Price are longshots in my books, and neither have been overly impressive in training camp. I think Bryant’s injury severely hurts his chances despite an opening behind T.J. Hockenson and Jesse James. Isaac Nauta is not a lock, but Matt Sokol might be the real challenger for that spot. As for Wirtel, it seems likely that the Lions will move on from Muhlbach when he decides to hang up the cleats. Until then, the long snapper position is his.

That leaves Arryn Siposs. Siposs versus Fox is, in my opinion, a 50-50 toss-up. In fact special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs told media on Sunday just how close the battle is right now:

“The way we’ve been evaluating them, there’s probably half a dozen categories or so, aside from just gut instinct – and I would say of those categories, there’s probably four that are almost neck and neck. I mean, like almost shockingly similar. And then of the other two, it’s kind of split in terms of whose got the edge. It’s really neck and neck and obviously we’re getting to a point here where we’re going to have to make a decision and they’re going to make it really hard on us”

Neither punter has professional experience yet—not counting Siposs’s time as an Aussie rules footballer. Neither punter has dominated training camp. Neither punter has made critical mistakes. It is as close as you could make a roster battle. I have gone back-and-forth on who will win this battle. Today, I’m leaning towards Siposs.

Your turn.


Will an undrafted free agent make the roster?

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