I broke down and made my own 53-man roster prediction for the 2021 Detroit Lions. It was no easy task, and I’m not entirely happy with it, so I can only imagine what Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes are going through this weekend as they hold the actual fate of these players in their hands.
Anyways, here it is. Proceed with the yelling.
If you like Erik better, his 53-man roster prediction is here.
The Lions like Tim Boyle, as evidenced by playing him ahead of David Blough in all three preseason games. He also showed some serious grit playing through an injury and leading the Lions on a touchdown drive. His injury will necessitate keeping Blough, although I think they were going to do that anyway.
Running Backs (5)
Jason Cabinda (FB)
Cut: Dedrick Mills, Craig Reynolds
Igwebuike was literally my last player in (hence, my change in heart since Bubble Watch). His improvement over the past month is undeniable, and what really put me over the edge was his value on special teams. With Kalif Raymond likely taking over a significant role on offense, I’m not sure using him as a full-time returner on kicks and punts is a great idea. Igwebuike was Detroit’s best kick returner on Friday. I resisted for a long time because I’m not so sure a guy like Igwebuike gets swiped up on waivers being so new to the position, but ultimately, he won the job.
Tight ends (2)
Cut: Alize Mack, Brock Wright
Enter the season with two tight ends and don’t look back. Continue to develop Mack and/or Wright on the practice squad, and use Jason Cabinda as an emergency tight end. The Lions love Cabinda and Dan Campbell has mentioned his versatility at the position.
Wide receiver (5)
Amon-Ra St. Brown
Cut: Breshad Perriman, Victor Bolden, Geronimo Allison, Sage Surratt, Javon McKinley, Damion Ratley
The Lions need outside receiver help. Perriman may look the part from the outside, but he did not act it. Kennedy, on the other hand, did everything right this preseason. Detroit would be wise to find someone on the waiver wire because this group does not inspire confidence. And I certainly don’t buy Campbell’s statement that Kennedy can play all three receiver positions. But he can be a weapon if Detroit finds a use for him.
Offensive line (9)
Cut: Logan Stenberg (IR), Evan Heim, Darrin Paulo, Dan Skipper (IR)
I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t get great vibes from the injuries to Dan Skipper and Logan Stenberg Friday night. It’s a shame because both made serious plays at a roster spot. That being said, a year to get healthy and right could benefit both. I still like Stenberg’s future, and if his injury is not considered that serious, I’d put him in Kraemer’s spot.
Interior defensive line (6)
Cut: Kevin Strong, Bruce Hector, Miles Brown, Jashon Cornell (suspended list)
This is the prediction I have the least confidence in. I absolutely hate cutting Kevin Strong here, and nearly swapped him with Penisini. In an ideal world, Hand immediately goes on IR after making the team and they bring Strong back, but there’s a legit possibility he doesn’t make it through waivers. I tend to think fans overestimate how many players will get claimed, but with him, the chances are very real.
I have Penisini in because he really impressed before his injury, and upon coming back, he looked just as twitchy and even got some play with the first-string defense in practice.
Unfortunately, when you’re deep at one position in camp, it means you’re going to have to cut a good player. Strong deserves a roster spot somewhere in the NFL.
Cut: Rashod Berry
While Erik struggled between Bryant and Harris, I get my cake and eat it, too. Harris is better now, Bryant has a far higher ceiling. So play Harris while he gives you more, and develop Bryant weekly in practice. As the adage goes, you can never have too many pass rushers, and Bryant has made it very hard to cut him after coming back from injury and having a fantastic preseason.
Cut: Anthony Pittman, Jahlani Tavai, Tavante Beckett
Pittman was close to making a roster spot simply due to just how much special teams playing time he got in the preseason. However, he still looks like he needs a year of development along with Beckett. I just can’t do it with Tavai.
Cut: Nickell Robey-Coleman, Jerry Jacobs
I had Robey-Coleman and Elder neck-and-neck entering Friday. Elder had an interception and an impressive one. That’s it. The camp battle was that close with neither having a lot of time with the team, so one play tips the scales.
Price has shown at least a little growth at outside cornerback over the past couple weeks, but his roster spot is truly earned as the team’s second-best gunner on punt coverage, next to Mike Ford.
Cut: Jalen Elliott, Alijah Holder
I gave a brief thought to fitting in Elliott as a fifth safety due to his special teams growth, but I just couldn’t make room for him.
Special teams (3)
K Randy Bullock
P Jack Fox
LS Scott Daly
Cut: Zane Gonzalez
Don’t have a great reason for this other than the fact that Bullock has been with the team longer and developed more chemistry with the special teams unit. The Lions tried to give Gonzalez an opportunity to win the job on Friday, but unfortunately, no difficult field goal attempts were had in the final two preseason games.
To be honest, I’d rather the Lions cut both kickers, as our John Whiticar proposed on Saturday, to create a temporary roster spot. That would allow me to fit Kevin Strong in, and then bring Bullock back after placing Hand on IR following the initial roster cuts.
I just don’t know if the Lions are going to be that clever.