Welcome to the first day of the Detroit Lions 2021 training camp.
The long wait is over and what better way to kick off the day than with a pre-training camp 53-man roster prediction article. If you’ve been following along with my Lions training camp battle preview series, then you’ve probably got a fairly good idea of how this article will play out. But if you happened to miss any of the pieces—or just want to read them again—I’ve provided a link to the preview article that matches each position group.
Let’s get started
Throughout the spring, this battle was an even race but Boyle consistently received second-team reps over Blough, leading to Boyle getting the nod here. The next question becomes, is there room for three quarterbacks on the roster, because being one injury away from only rostering one signal-caller who knows the system is a bit scary.
Running backs (4)
Jermar Jefferson (R)
Jason Cabinda (FB)
Dedrick Mills (R) Michael Warren II
1-2-3 feel pretty safe to me, and both the Saints (coach Dan Campbell) and Chargers (offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn) have kept a traditional fullback in recent years, which bodes well for Cabinda’s chances of making the roster.
Wide receivers (6)
Amon-Ra St. Brown (R)
Victor Bolden Geronimo Allison Sage Surratt (R) Chad Hansen Tom Kennedy Javon McKinley (R, NFI list )
After the top four receivers, the other two spots feel very unsettled, but I’m leaning towards the hand-picked free agents for now. Raymond vs. Bolden is going to be a tight battle, while Ratley will have to hold off Allison, Surratt, and Hansen. Kennedy, who missed most of spring camp, and McKinley, who is currently on the NFI list, need to get healthy if they want to get back in the mix.
Tight ends (3)
Jake Hausmann (R) Hunter Thedford Brock Wright (R) Charlie Taumoepeau
When I wrote this preview article I was leaning towards the Lions keeping Hausmann as an H-back, but after giving the rest of the roster a closer look, I just can’t justify keeping a fourth tight end over some other spots of need. I’ll be keeping a close eye on if my gut feeling was right or if I made the proper adjustment.
Offensive Tackles (4)
Taylor Decker - LT
Penei Sewell (R) - RT
Tyrell Crosby - Swing OT3
Matt Nelson - Swing OT4/G
Dan Skipper Darrin Paulo
There are certain position groups that are so critical that you need three capable starters in case one player is injured and offensive tackle is one of those groups. Seeing Crosby back in a swing tackle role fills my heart with warmth and security.
Frank Ragnow - C
Jonah Jackson - LG
Halapoulivaati Vaitai - RG
Logan Stenberg - reserve G
Evan Brown - reserve C/G
Drake Jackson (R) Tommy Kraemer (R) Evan Heim ( COVID list )
The starters are locked in, while the reserves are anything but. Stenberg gets the nod based on his upside but we haven’t seen him practice in a contact environment in almost a year, so I’m banking on some development. Brown gets the nod over Jackson from me based on his position versatility. I believe Jackson has the higher ceiling, but he needs to prove he can also play guard.
Interior defensive line (6)
Levi Onwuzurike (R)
Alim McNeill (R, NT)
John Penisini (NT)
Jashon Cornell (suspended) Kevin Strong Bruce Hector
Strong should push for a spot as he is a nice fit in this new scheme, but if he doesn’t make the 53, he should be a priority for the practice squad. The decision on Cornell can wait until after his suspension, but he seems headed to the practice squad as well.
Austin Bryant ( PUP list ) Robert McCray Reggie Gilbert
Bryant and Harris will be in a battle for the four EDGE spot, but starting off camp on the PUP is putting Bryant behind the eight ball.
Derrick Barnes (R)
Shaun Dion Hamilton Tavante Beckett (R) Anthony Pittman
After the starting two and rookie Barnes, the other spots are up for grabs. The coaching staff has shown high praise for Tavai, but his fit in this scheme remains in question. Could Hamilton’s coverage ability earn him a spot? Is Beckett a sleeper? Lots of questions about depth.
Ifeatu Melifonwu (R)
Alex Brown Jerry Jacobs (R) A.J. Parker (R)
This is pretty straightforward in my eyes. The three players left off are not in the mix for me right now, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on them to see if they can prove me wrong.
Bobby Price D’Angelo Amos (R) Godwin Igwebuike Alijah Holder
Walker, Harris, and Marlowe are the top three options on defense, and Moore plays key roles on special teams, but the fifth spot is wide open. For now, I went with Elliott because he was running with the second team in the spring, but I’m not confident slotting him in there.
Special Teams (3)
P Jack Fox
K Randy Bullock
K Matthew Wright
LS Don Muhlbach
LS Scott Daly
I’m leaning on the veterans in the special teams battles until the younger players have a chance to impress.