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Ranking the Detroit Lions’ entire roster: 89-81

A look at the bottom nine players currently on the Lions’ roster.

Nebraska v Rutgers Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions’ roster is almost unrecognizable from last year, and that’s probably a good thing. New general manager Brad Holmes is taking a new approach to building this roster, requiring different types of players and prioritizing different positions.

Regardless of what the front office is telling fans, this is a rebuild, and rebuilds don’t happen overnight. The roster still has a lot of tweaking to do before it can be considered truly competitive in this league.

How close are they? That’s a tough thing to quantify at this point in time. Much of the Lions’ roster is filled with unproven talent that could either pay off in a dramatic fashion or underwhelm. However, a great way to evaluate an NFL roster is to investigate its depth. Year after year, teams are challenged by injury, and the deepest roster is often the most successful one.

Over the past week, six members of the Pride of Detroit staff (myself, Erik Schlitt, John Whiticar, Ryan Mathews, Alex Reno and Jerry Mallory) went up and down the roster and ranked each player. That’s right, from 1 to 89, we put the Lions’ roster in order from best to worst.

We combined all six lists into a collective ranking and will now be releasing the list 10 players at a time (nine for the first in the series, since the roster is at 89). Here are your bottom nine players on the roster.

89. LS Scott Daly (Highest ranking: 74; Lowest ranking: 89)

Last year: N/A

It’s a time-honored tradition to put the backup long snapper at the lowest position on the roster. While that’s probably not fair to Daly, who had a successful career at Notre Dame and in the XFL, being behind Don Muhlbach on the depth chart is not exactly the safest place to be.

88. TE Hunter Thedford (Highest: 81, Lowest: 87)

Last year: N/A

Thedford was signed to a futures contract by the Lions all the way back in January, and is probably one of the most forgotten candidates in the TE3 race. He was actually on the Lions’ radar prior to the regime change and tried out for the team last August. As a purely blocking tight end, Thedford would have to be spectacular in training camp to make the 53, but that seems unlikely considering he entered the league in 2019 and hasn’t found his footing.

87. RB Michael Warren (Highest: 77; Lowest: 88)

Last year: N/A

Signed just a couple of weeks ago, Warren replaced undrafted rookie Rakeem Boyd, who must not have made a great impression during OTAs and minicamp.

Warren has some familiarity with running backs coach Duce Staley, having spent last year (his rookie season) in Eagles training camp and on their practice squad for some of the regular season. Still, when a player is added this late to a roster, their chances of making the team are slim.

86. OT Darrin Paulo (Highest: 73; Lowest: 88)

Last year: N/A

In college, Paulo was an All-Pac 12 left tackle, helping the Utah Utes develop one of the deadliest running games in the country. He may be a dark horse to win a reserve job at offensive tackle, but if the Lions go through with trading Tyrell Crosby, Paulo is a young prospect with a decent resume. Last year, he managed to stay on the Broncos’ practice squad for the entire season.

85. G Evan Heim (Highest: 71; Lowest: 89)

Last year: N/A

Heim is a small-school prospect whose path to the NFL was disrupted in 2020 by COVID. He never got to showcase his talents at a pro day, which is devastating for a prospect from Minnesota State - Mankato. He ended up going undrafted and unsigned.

This year, however, he was able to showcase his skills at Minnesota’s pro day, and it landed him on the Lions’ roster. Detroit’s interior offensive line depth is shaky, at best. So if Heim can prove to be that overlooked prospect, there’s a spot for him on this roster.

84. TE Charlie Taumoepeau (Highest: 72; Lowest: 85)

Last year: N/A

Taumoepeau earned his way onto the 90-man roster by impressing coaches during a rookie minicamp tryout—although he’s technically a second-year player following a rookie season with the Cowboys, Colts and 49ers. He, too, has some work to do to be in the TE3 conversation, but he’s already impressed the coaching staff enough once to get a contract.

83. EDGE Robert McCray (Highest: 75; Lowest: 84)

Last year: N/A

Signed to the team back in January, McCray comes to Detroit after a year out of football. Back in 2018, he spent his rookie season on the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad before making one game appearance with the Browns in 2019.

Given Detroit’s fairly straightforward situation on the edges, McCray is an extreme longshot to make the 53-man roster, but another year on the practice squad is possible.

82. RB Dedrick Mills (Highest: 69; Lowest: 84)

Last year: N/A

Mills will certainly be in the mix for the Lions’ third running back position, with the aforementioned Warren and seventh-round rookie Jermar Jefferson. While he doesn’t have a lot of shake to his game, his one-cut ability and decent acceleration will appeal to this coaching staff. He’s not flashy, but he’ll pick up 3 yards when you need 2.

Of all the bottom nine players here, Mills may have the best shot to make the roster, but that’s only if the Lions don’t end up adding more competition at the running back position, and we know they’re looking to do exactly that.

81. DT Brian Price (Highest: 64; Lowest: 87)

Last year: N/A

Price signed with the Lions in June to help bring some competition to the nose tackle position. While he’s likely entering training camp behind both John Penisini and rookie Alim McNeill, he actually brings far more experience than both. Price has been in the league since 2016, and even played in 13 games with the Packers back in 2018.

If Detroit keeps a backup nose tackle, Price would have to beat out Penisini. Given that Price was hand selected by the current regime while Penisini was better suited under the Matt Patricia, that is certainly a possibility. However, Penisni had a promising rookie season and is three years younger.