With a small lull in training camp, it’s time to pick back up our series ranking the Detroit Lions roster from 89 to 1. If you missed out on the first four installments of the series, this is how it works. We polled six members for the Pride of Detroit staff—myself, Erik Schlitt, Ryan Mathews, John Whiticar, Alex Reno, and Jerry Mallory—to rank every player who was on the roster on July 15 from 89 to 1. From there, we gathered the rankings from all six staffers and averaged them.
Now we’re unveiling the master list 10 at a time, all the while comparing it to last year’s list and giving some analysis along the way.
It’s important to keep in mind that this list was created before training camp, and does not reflect any roster changes made since.
50. RB Jermar Jefferson (Highest ranking: 39; Lowest ranking: 59)
Last year: N/A
The Lions’ final selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jefferson has been the presumed third-string back since being acquired. However, Detroit’s recent interest in Todd Gurley may have suggested Jefferson wasn’t ready for the big leagues yet. That being said, the Gurley interest seems to have waned and Jefferson has impressed at camp.
49. WR Victor Bolden (Highest: 41; Lowest: 57)
Last year: 80
It’s fascinating to see Bolden jump 31 spots in the list this year, and it probably speaks to how changed the Lions’ wide receiver room is this year. There was very little chance for Bolden to make last year’s squad—and he didn’t—but with Detroit’s top three receivers no longer on the team, Bolden has a chance to show what he’s got this year.
48. G Logan Stenberg (Highest: 39; Lowest: 57
Last year: 34
After a rookie season spent almost exclusively on the practice squad, our staff is a little more down on Stenberg, Detroit’s fourth-round pick last year. It was really hard to know where Stenberg was at in his development, seeing as he practiced behind closed doors all of last season. However, things aren’t looking great thus far at camp.
47. K Randy Bullock (Highest: 38; Lowest: 63)
Last year: N/A
Still the heavy favorite to win the Lions’ kicking job, Bullock has been around the league for 10 years. For a kicker, that’s actually a heck of an accomplishment. He may not kick the long ball all that great, but a career accuracy percentage of 83.2 is impressive no matter how you slice it.
But he’s no Matt Prater. And it’s clear our staff feels that way, as we had Prater 16th on our list last year.
46. OT Matt Nelson (Highest: 38; Lowest: 52)
Last year: 81
Nelson was one of the few success stories from last season. His transition from defensive lineman to offensive tackle was finally tested last year when Detroit was dealing with tackle injuries. Nelson played in 50 percent or more snaps in five different games and looked like he belonged. No performance was better than his game against the Bears when he held his own against Khalil Mack (with help).
Now Nelson has a presumed spot on the roster, as OT4—and possibly OT3 if the Lions end up shipping Tyrell Crosby off in a trade.
45. QB Tim Boyle (Highest: 35; Lowest: 63)
Last year: N/A
Boyle came with a heck of a lot of praise from Green Bay after beating out rookie Jordan Love for the backup job behind Aaron Rodgers. Boyle comes with quite a preseason resume, a really strong arm, and a few years of teaching from the league’s MVP. He’s taken the early lead for the backup job and quite possibly could turn out to be Detroit’s best backup in years.
44. LB Jahlani Tavai (Highest: 40; Lowest: 53)
Last year: 21
Tavai falls 23 spots this year for several reasons. First, he just hasn’t been good in his first two years in the league. His lack of speed has been obvious, and his instincts just haven’t shown up. Additionally, he appears to be an even worse fit in Detroit’s new defense, which values sideline-to-sideline speed.
However, Tavai certainly put in the work this offseason and remains with the second-team defense in training camp practice. His spot on the roster is far from guaranteed, but he’s holding on for now.
43. S C.J. Moore (Highest: 37; Lowest: 52)
Last year: 51
Moore may be close to a roster lock with how essential he has become on special teams over the last two years. The question is whether he’s ready to take on a role on defense. The Lions are thin at the safety position, and no one among the reserves has made much of an impression in camp.
42. DT Kevin Strong (Highest: 30; Lowest: 54)
Last year: 45
No one was negatively impacted by Detroit’s offseason more than Kevin Strong. The Lions added Michael Brockers via trade, drafted Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike, and surprisingly kept Nick Williams on the roster. Strong has beaten the odds before several times by showing up in camp and the preseason, but he still hasn’t shown his best work during real games.
41. WR Kalif Raymond (Highest: 35; Lowest: 52)
Last year: N/A
Raymond is the odds-on favorite to win Detroit’s returner job, but he’s also been flashing as a receiver in training camp. Here’s what special teams coordinator Dave Fipp had to say about him this week:
“He’s been great since he’s got here. He’s obviously back there handling punts. I think him and (Victor) Bolden and (Tom) Kennedy and (Amon-Ra) St. Brown and (D’Angelo Amos) a little bit—all those guys have been back there, all five of them. We really like them. I think Bolden and Raymond (are) really explosive players.”