clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2021 Detroit Lions roster rankings: 20-11

We’re cracking the top 20 in our countdown of the Lions 2021 roster.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Our countdown of the Detroit Lions 2021 roster has reached the 20s, which means we’re deep into starter territory here. From here on out, the players on this list will play an integral part in Detroit’s success or ultimate demise.

The players in the 20s are an interesting mixed bag. A couple are young talents who have dropped out of the top 10 due to some disappointing seasons. A few are newcomers who are expected to take on big roles right away, and one may be the biggest factor between success and failure for this Lions team.

So without further ado, here are the player we ranked from 20 to 11 on the Lions 2021 roster.

Note on methodology: Six Pride of Detroit members ranked the entire roster from 89 to 1. This list represents the averaged rankings of all six lists. The list was created before training camp started.


20. TE Darren Fells (Highest ranking: 17; Lowest ranking: 27)

Last year: N/A

Fells is no stranger to Lions fans. Back in 2017, Fells caught 17 catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns as a member of the Lions. But where he makes his money is as a pass blocker. That year, he earned a 74.8 pass blocking grade from PFF and an overall grade of 69.0.

With the sudden retirement of Josh Hill, it’s hard to imagine the Lions finding a backup plan any better than Fells.

19. DT Levi Onwuzurike (Highest: 16; Lowest: 29)

Last year: N/A

The Lions’ second-round pick filled a huge need for Detroit. They have lacked an interior pass rush for far too long, and Onwuzurike was perhaps the best option to fill that role in the entire 2021 NFL Draft class. Unfortunately, he’s remained a bit of a mystery thus far due to a lingering injury that has held him out of most of camp, but the future is still bright for him.

18. CB Amani Oruwariye (Highest: 12; Lowest: 22)

Last year: 22

Despite taking a step back last year from his promising rookie season, Oruwariye jumps a few spots in this year’s countdown. Perhaps it’s more based on expectation than anything. For the first time in his career, Oruwariye is expected to be a full-time starter.

Early signs in camp are somewhat promising, as coaches seem to be constantly saying he’s steadily improving, but it’ll be hard to truly judge his progress until he faces some serious competition.

17. WR Tyrell Williams (Highest: 15; Lowest: 20)

Last year: N/A

Williams is the team’s No. 1 wide receiver and it hasn’t been particularly close in training camp. Coming off a lost season due to injury, Williams is looking to restore his career. And while he’s five years removed from a 1,000-yard season, he hasn’t been tasked with being the No. 1 option very often. Can he be an efficient weapon with the top defender on him all game?

16. CB Quinton Dunbar (Highest: 14; Lowest: 23)

Last year: N/A

There were high hopes for Dunbar entering training camp, seeing as he’s just one year removed from a season in which he played at arguably an All-Pro level.

Unfortunately, Dunbar is dealing with an unspecified personal issue and has missed almost all of training camp. With all this time missed, he’ll have to work really hard to get his way into the starting lineup, but I’m sure he’s doing the right thing by taking care of his own.

15. G Jonah Jackson (Highest: 10; Lowest: 18)

Last year: 26

Jackson had a promising rookie season, but coaches are expecting him to take a significant leap in Year 2. Playing between a top-10 left tackle and a top-two (and maybe not two) center will certainly help, but an offensive line is only a strong as its weakest link. This year, that weakest link is either Jackson or Halapoulivaati Vaitai. So if this unit is going to live up to the offseason hype, some clear improvement from Jackson is necessary.

14. Tracy Walker (Highest: 8; Lowest: 16)

Last year: 8

Walker has entered 2021 with some newly-found confidence, and many are hoping that leads to more flashes of the kind of play we saw he was capable of earlier in his career. Playing further away from the box and given more freedom to utilize his excellent athletic traits, Walker is in a better spot to play. But until he actually goes out there and does it, there will be some skepticism—hence why he’s fallen out of the top 10.

13. CB Jeff Okudah (Highest: 8; Lowest: 18)

Last year: 9

It’s almost the exact same story for Okudah. His rookie season can only be classified as a massive disappointment, even for those banging the “it takes a long time for a cornerback to develop” drum. As a top-three draft pick, expectations are high right away, and Okudah didn’t come anywhere near those.

That being said, it’s hard to ignore just how different he looks so far this season. Is he going to come out of the gate as a top-10 cornerback in this league? Unlikely. But he’s got confidence, he’s got a great coaching staff, and he just looks like he’s approaching the game in an entirely different way.

12. RB Jamaal Williams (Highest: 10; Lowest: 15)

Last year: N/A

Did Jamaal Williams get a bit of a bump because he allowed us to interview him twice, and he’s an incredibly entertaining guy? That’s for you to decide.

But there are plenty of other reasons for him to be this high. He’s the youngest complement back the Lions have had in some time, and he was nothing but successful in his time with the Packers. Though he just averaged 4.0 yards per carry in four years there, he was also a threat in the receiving game, averaging over 30 catches per season, and he’s had a PFF grade of 67.5 or higher in his last three seasons. He’s just solid in every phase of the game.

11. QB Jared Goff (Highest: 7; Lowest: 15)

Last year: N/A

Jared Goff is the Lions’ biggest enigma in 2021. At one point in his career, he was a Pro Bowl quarterback earning the biggest paycheck of any quarterback in the league. Just two years later, it had all fallen apart in Los Angeles, and now many consider him in the lower half of starting quarterbacks in this league.

A change of scenery is undoubtedly good for Goff after things had clearly soured with Sean McVay, but Detroit may not be the best landing spot for him. While he should have a good offensive line to protect him, the receiving corps leaves a lot to be desired.

That being said, Goff was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft for a reason. He has some talent, and now with a coaching staff and front office that believes in him, he looks more confident.

Things have been up and down in training camp, but Friday’s preseason game will be his first true test.

NEW: Join Pride of Detroit Direct

Jeremy Reisman will drop into your inbox twice a week to provide exclusive, in-depth reporting and insights from Ford Field. Subscribe to go deeper into Lions fandom, and join us on our path to win the Super Bowl.