Last year, all of the Detroit Lions’ seven draft picks made the team’s 53-man roster, and all of them contributed to varying degrees in the regular season. Even a couple undrafted rookies ended up making the team and playing and contributing.
On one hand, that’s a credit to Lions general manager Brad Holmes for finding capable contributors throughout the draft and beyond. On the other hand, it also speaks to just how weak the roster was after the teardown from the Matt Patricia era. Simply put, if that many late-round picks and undrafted rookies are playing for you, your team probably isn’t that good.
But the Lions roster is much different this time around. There are far fewer holes, and therefore it’s far from guaranteed that Detroit’s eight draft picks will end up on the 53-man roster this time.
So today’s question of the day is:
How many 2022 draft picks will make the Lions’ final roster?
My answer: In my way-too-early 53-man roster prediction from Monday, I only had two missing the final cut: sixth-round edge James Houston and seventh-round cornerback Chase Lucas. However, after thinking on it and discussing how the Lions may build the roster with Erik Schlitt and Ryan Mathews on our latest Spotify Live session, I’m starting to think Houston will make the roster, too.
Let’s break it all down: The first five picks (from Aidan Hutchinson to James Mitchell) are all locks. Obviously, Jameson Williams could start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but for the purpose of this exercise, let’s just assume he makes the roster.
The questions start with sixth-round linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez. However, given Detroit’s weak linebacker room and Rodriguez’s perfect fit as a special teamer, I don’t think there’s much of a question he’ll make the roster, even as a significantly undersized player.
Back to Houston, while Lions’ edge room is pretty crowded, it’s filled with a bunch of versatile players who could make players at other positions expendable. Detroit could roll with just four interior defenders because of Josh Paschal’s ability to kick inside. The Lions could lose an extra linebacker with Houston’s ability to play off-ball.
But most of all, this comment from Houston on draft night resonates with me. When asked what he expects his role to be with the Lions, here’s what he said:
“I’m going to sacrifice everything I need to sacrifice. Obviously, I’m going to play an important role in special teams, all four roles. I’m just going to come out there and I’m going to work my heart out. I’m not going to give up, and I can’t wait to get to Detroit.”
“I’m going to play an important role in special teams, all four roles.”
To Houston, he’s already won a roster spot and is already a four-role special teamer. That’s the kind of confidence and commitment that is going to win over the coaching staff in a hurry.
So my answer is now seven out of eight draft picks will make the roster.