Over the past two years, the Detroit Lions have made a strong effort to retain youth. With a bevy of draft resources and a desire to acquire cheap contracts, the Lions have built a nucleus of their roster filled with first and second-year players. That strategy has not only quickly turned the franchise into one of the most competitive teams in the NFC, but it seemingly has them set up well for the future.
But things are changing quickly. While the Lions, again, had a lot of draft capital this season, they don’t quite have as many available roster spots as they’ve had in years past. In 2021, the roster was in such a bad spot that four undrafted rookies—Tommy Kraemer, Brock Wright, Jerry Jacobs and AJ Parker—all got significant playing time. Two years later, and it seems likely that only one or two UDFAs make the 53-man roster, if that. In fact, there’s no guarantee that all of Detroit’s draft picks make the final roster.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
How many rookies will make the Lions’ final roster?
Note: Hat tip to Turf Show Times for the idea for this question.
My answer: Let’s address the draft class first. Unless something catastrophic happens, Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell, Sam LaPorta, Brian Branch, and Brodric Martin are locks to make the roster. Given the lack of young depth on the offensive line, Colby Sorsdal feels pretty safe, too. That already puts us at six.
Hendon Hooker seems extremely likely to start the season on the Non-Football Injury list, especially with coach Dan Campbell referring to 2023 as his redshirt year. There’s certainly a chance the Lions activate him so that they can get him some early reps in training camp, but I don’t think that necessary and we’ve seen how slow the Lions have taken players with serious injuries. So, technically, Hooker won’t make the roster if things play out that way.
That leaves us with just Antoine Green. With Jameson Williams’ six-game suspension, it opens up a significant opportunity for Green to slip onto the initial roster. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Marvin Jones Jr., and Kalif Raymond are locks, but that leaves at least one, maybe two, spots for the rest of the receivers. Green has just as good of a shot as the likes of Tom Kennedy, Trinity Benson, Maurice Alexander, among others. For now, we’ll put him in. That’s seven.
Then there’s the UDFA. Cornerback Starling Thomas has been the talk of OTAs and minicamp, but Detroit’s defensive back room is more crowded than in years past. Can he beat out the likes of Saivion Smith and Chase Lucas for the last few roster spots? It’s certainly possible, and his physical style of play should only pop more when the pads come on. Still, that’s a very competitive room, and I have him with still more work to do to get on the roster.
There are other UDFAs with realistic chances to make the roster, including running back Mohamed Ibrahim and safety Brandon Joseph. However, I think this may be the first year in some time that Detroit doesn’t roster a UDFA on their initial 53-man roster.
So my final answer to the question is seven rookies.
What do you think? Which Lions rookies am I missing? Or did I get it exactly right? Vote in the poll below and then scroll down to the comment section to tell me what I did wrong.
How many rookies will make the Detroit Lions’ initial 53-man roster in 2023?
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