The Detroit Lions established their 53-man roster on Tuesday afternoon. There were a handful of surprises and some curious decisions along the way. Here are the five things that stood out to me the most.
The Detroit Lions are getting young, very young
The Lions’ roster currently features just four players 30 years or older: tight end Darren Fells, defensive tackle Nick Williams, linebacker Jamie Collins and defensive lineman Michael Brockers.
The roster also features 14 players 23 years old or younger. Here’s that list:
- Bobby Price (23)
- AJ Parker (23)
- Levi Onwuzurike (23)
- Julian Okwara (23)
- Jerry Jacobs (23)
- Quintez Cephus (23)
- D’Andre Swift (22)
- Jeff Okudah (22)
- Ifeatu Melifonwu (22)
- Derrick Barnes (22)
- Amon-Ra St. Brown (21)
- Alim McNeill (21)
- Jermar Jefferson (21)
- Penei Sewell (20)
(An additional nine players are 24 years old)
You have to imagine this is one of the youngest rosters in the NFL, which is exactly how a rebuild should look. Brad Holmes can call it a retool all he wants, but this team is starting young and getting a lot of these guys on the field ASAP. That’s a rebuild.
Aubrey Pleasant is the most important positional coach for the Lions’ future
The Lions are young all over. But they’re especially young in the defensive backfield.
Jeff Okudah is 22.
Amani Oruwariye is 25.
Jerry Jacobs is 23.
Ifeatu Melifonwu is 22.
AJ Parker is 23.
Bobby Price is 23.
Will Harris is 25.
C.J. Moore is 25
Tracy Walker is 26. That old man.
That’s a lot of moldable players who made the final roster that will need some serious development. Thankfully, Pleasant is a coach who comes with a pretty solid resume of coaching up players. And for a lot of these players, it will be trial by fire. Okudah, Oruwariye, Melifonwu, Parker, and Harris may all be headed for serious playing time in 2021. No better experience than some actual playing time, but let’s hope the coaching staff can keep their confidence high as some road bumps are surely ahead.
Kudos to Pride of Detroit writer/editor/social media guy John Whiticar, who made an extremely compelling argument to cut both kickers on Saturday. If you missed it, read it here.
The Lions could very well bring back Randy Bullock or Zane Gonzalez after they choose to put a player like Tim Boyle or Da’Shawn Hand on injured reserve. Or, the Lions may want to go after one of the big names on the waiver wire, including former Ravens kicker Jake Verity, who has impressed in camp.
Position changes aren’t a death sentence
Godwin Igwebuike won a roster spot despite moving from safety to running back. Bobby Price moved from safety to outside corner and make it. AJ Parker went from outside corner to slot and made it—and clearly won the starting job, too.
Kudos to those players for taking advantage of their opportunity and making a big enough impact in a short period of time to land a spot on the roster.
We’re not done here
Obviously, the Lions need to add a kicker—whether it be on their 53-man roster or the practice squad—but they’re far from done there. With Tim Boyle out for 6-8 weeks, he’s almost certainly headed for injured reserve. Da’Shawn Hand could be joining him. That’s two roster spots available for any waiver claims the Lions may be considering. Unfortunately, this roster is so thin that they may be adding more than two players. That means there’s a pretty good chance someone that has made the initial roster may not be there by this time on Wednesday.