clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2021 Detroit Lions depth chart: Post-NFL Draft update

The Lions added 20 rookies to their roster over the weekend, bringing their total up to 86 players.


The Detroit Lions roster has seen some movement over the past week. They drafted seven players over the weekend, signed 13 undrafted free agents, signed two unrestricted free agents, and saw an unexpected player reportedly retire. After these series of moves, the Lions now have 86 players on their roster, leaving them four available spots to add a few more players if they desire.

Let’s take a closer look at how the roster has evolved.

Quarterback (3)

  • Jared Goff
  • Tim Boyle
  • David Blough

No new changes here and with only four available spots, I’m not sure they would consider adding a fourth signal-caller just to be a camp arm.

Running back (5)

  • D’Andre Swift — primary back
  • Jamaal Williams
  • Kerryon Johnson — third-down backHe had reportedly been released
  • Jermar Jefferson (Rookie)
  • Rakeem Boyd (R)
  • Dedrick Mills (R)

The Lions added three rookie backs over the weekend, Jefferson in the seventh round, as well as Boyd and Mills as UDFAs. This is enough bodies to work with during spring camp but all three rookies have a similar skill set, which may lead to some changes in June as a rookie hierarchy is established and GM Brad Holmes could look for more variety.

Fullback (2)

  • Jason Cabinda
  • Nick Bawden

No changes at fullback, though these two may be looking over their shoulder at TE Brock Wright, as he has H-Back experience. If he has a good camp and gets an inside track for the TE3 role, it would make it easier to move on from a true fullback.

Wide receiver (12)

  • Tyrell Williams
  • Breshad Perriman
  • Quintez Cephus
  • Geronimo Allison
  • Damion Ratley
  • Javon McKinley (R)
  • Jonathan Adams Jr (R)
  • Sage Surratt (R)

Slot receiver

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown (R)
  • Kalif Raymond
  • Tom Kennedy
  • Victor Bolden

The Lions added four rookies to this group and fourth-rounder St. Brown looks like the front runner to start in the slot. The three UDFAs are slotted at the bottom for now, but as hand-picked guys by this regime, they could rise up quickly. McKinley got $100,000 of his UDFA contract guaranteed, so that alone makes him someone to watch in camp. Surratt should challenge Cephus for a big slot role.

Tight end (6 + 1)

Well, things got complicated real quick at the tight end position. Bryant landed on reserve/NFI before the draft, and now Hill is reportedly retiring, essentially removing their top two reserves from the roster. The Lions now need a TE2—Darren Fells visited this week—and a TE3 who will hopefully come from the remaining reserves, assuming one steps up their game.

Expected starting offensive line (13)

  • LT — Taylor Decker
  • LG — Jonah Jackson
  • C — Frank Ragnow
  • RG — Hal Vaitai
  • RT — Penei Sewell

One duck in and another duck out, as Sewell replaces Crosby at right tackle.

Reserve offensive line

  • LT – Tyrell Crosby, Matt Nelson, Dan Skipper
  • LG – Logan Stenberg, Tommy Kraemer (R)
  • C – Evan Brown, Drake Jackson (R)
  • RG – Logan Stenberg, Evan Heim
  • RT – Tyrell Crosby, Matt Nelson, Dan Skipper

Crosby should settle back into his all-important sixth offensive lineman role, and may actually be the top reserve at both tackle and both guard spots. UDFA rookies Kraemer and Jackson have legit shots at sticking around in some capacity.

With 13 offensive linemen in the fold, don’t be surprised if the Lions add two more at some stage so they can role with three complete lines during camp. It’s not mandatory, but it helps reduce wear and tear on their bodies.

Interior defensive line (11)

  • Michael Brockers — Defensive tackle (4i)
  • Trey Flowers — Defensive end (3/5T)
  • Levi Onwuzurike (R) — DL
  • Alim McNeill (R) - NT
  • Nick Williams — DT
  • Da’Shawn Hand — DL
  • John Penisini — NT
  • Jashon Cornell — DL
  • Kevin Strong — DL
  • John Atkins — NT
  • Joel Heath — DT

This defensive line is going to look very different than the three-man front Lions fans have seen the last three years. The Lions added two pass-rushing defensive tackles in Onwuzurike and McNeill, and while McNeill is marked as a likely starter at nose tackle, I still believe Onwuzurike will receive more cumulative snaps.

EDGE Rushers (5)

  • Romeo Okwara - SAM (strong side pass rusher)
  • Julian Okwara - WILL (weak side pass rusher)
  • Austin Bryant
  • Charles Harris
  • Robert McCray

No changes to this position group, the Okwara brothers seem primed to lead the way.

Off-the-ball linebacker (8)

  • Jamie Collins — MIKE
  • Alex Anzalone — INSIDE
  • Derrick Barnes (R)
  • Jahlani Tavai
  • Jalen Reeves-Maybin
  • Anthony Pittman
  • Shaun Dion Hamilton
  • Tavante Beckett (R)

Barnes is the future of the position, but he still needs some polish to his game before he is ready to start. He’ll be in the rotation and his ability to blitz will make him a serious situational weapon. I still don’t know where to put Tavai in this defense.

Cornerback (8)

  • Jeff Okudah
  • Amani Oruwariye
  • Quinton Dunbar
  • Ifeatu Melifonwu (R)
  • Mike Ford
  • Jerry Jacobs (R)

Nickel corner

  • Corn Elder
  • AJ Parker (R)

The Lions added three corners this past week and they still may not be done, specifically at nickel. Having Dunbar in the fold should do wonders for Melifonwu, as he won't be pushed into action too quickly and can be provided time to acclimate to the NFL. That being said, don’t be surprised if he has a specific role, like matching up with big slot receivers right out the gate.

Safety (8)

  • Tracy Walker - FS
  • Will Harris - SS
  • Dean Marlowe
  • C.J. Moore
  • Bobby Price
  • Jalen Elliott
  • Godwin Igwebuike
  • D’Angelo Amos (R)

The biggest unaddressed need on the roster, I’d be confused if the Lions felt comfortable with this group as it sits right now.

Kicking team (5)

  • Jack Fox — punter, holder, kickoffs
  • Randy Bullock — kicker
  • Matthew Wright — kicker
  • Don Muhlbach — long snapper
  • Scott Daly — long snapper

Another recent new addition is former XFL long snapper Daly, who will surely want to make #longsnapperwatch relevant again.

Kick/Punt returns

  • Kalif Raymond — kick and punt returns
  • D’Angelo Amos (R) - competition

Amos took five punt returns to the house in college and winning a job on special teams could be his quickest path to the 53-man roster.

Kick coverage

  • Mike Ford — gunner
  • C.J. Moore — Personal Protector (PP)
  • Jalen Reeves-Maybin
  • Jason Cabinda
  • Derrick Barnes (R)
  • Tavante Beckett (R)
  • Will Harris
  • Dean Marlowe
  • AJ Parker (R)

Amos isn’t the only rookie that has a solid special teams’ resume as Barnes, Beckett, and Parker could end up being contributors in the game's third phase.


If you’re a more visual learner, here’s an at-a-glance look at what the previous 1,000 words just discussed:

Pride of Detroit Direct

Sign up now for a 7-day free trial of Pride of Detroit Direct, with exclusive updates from Jeremy Reisman on the ground at Allen Park, instant reactions after each game, and in-depth Lions analysis from film expert Jon Ledyard.