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Ranking the entire Detroit Lions’ 2023 roster: Roster Bubble Part 2 — 60-51

Our rankings of the Detroit Lions 2023 roster continues with players 60-51, displaying the competitive depth in this year’s group.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, we broke down the players on the Detroit Lions 2023 roster who were ranked 70-61 according to our staffers. I called this the roster bubble of this Lions team, but, in truth, that’s just half of the bubble. The next 10 players on our list will also be fighting for their football lives this training camp.

As I look over the list, I truly see just one player who has a pretty secure roster spot. Everyone else has work to do. Of course, while many of these players may not end up landing on the initial 53-man roster, many will likely stick around on the practice squad and potentially get an opportunity to play during the season.

Let’s get into it.


Reminder: This list is based on the average of eight different Pride of Detroit staff members’ individual lists.

60. WR Tom Kennedy (High: 56; Low: 70)

Last year’s ranking: 67

Kennedy jumps a few spots here after, again, showing that he can produce when given the opportunity. He spent of his 2022 season on the Lions practice squad, but when the injury bug hit, he stepped up and produced. He had significant offensive snaps in six games last year and produced a catch in five of them, including a solid three-catch, 54-yard performance in his sole start.

Kennedy faces an uphill climb this year, though, with the additions of seventh-round pick Antoine Green and the recent trade for Denzel Mims.

59. LS Jake McQuaide (High: 42; Low: 75)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

As I pointed out earlier in this series, specialist had a wide variety of rankings amongst our staff and that’s especially true of McQuaide. The man has 181 NFL games of long-snapping experience, so he’s clearly good at his craft. It’s fair to question, though, whether the Lions will go with a 35-year-old long snapper or Scott Daly.

58. K Parker Romo (High: 41; Low: 71)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Romo comes out as the highest-ranked kicker of the three on our list. That feeling was not unanimous, though: two voters had Michael Badgley as the best kicker on the roster.

Romo is certainly the most interesting option of the three. The man has an extremely powerful leg. But can he command enough control over it for the Lions to trust him for the job?

57. QB Nate Sudfeld (High: 49; Low: 69)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Sudfeld is the one person in this group who is almost certainly guaranteed a roster spot. With Hendon Hooker likely to start (and maybe finish) camp on the Non-Football Injury list and Adrian Martinez still far too young to assume the backup job, Sudfeld is basically unopposed for the backup job. The team has a lot of trust in him, and he looked decent in the spring, but he still remains a relative unknown amongst fans and media.

56. OT Germain Ifedi (High: 49; Low: 63)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

A late offseason addition, Ifedi brings some serious experience to the offensive tackle reserves. He has started 83 games over his seven NFL seasons, but he has struggled largely during that time. That being said, he’s at a time in his career in which being a backup is likely his best fit, and that’s exactly what he did for the Falcons last year. He was active for all 17 games, but ended up playing on just eight offensive snaps.

He’ll have to compete with Matt Nelson, Obinna Eze, and others for a spot behind the starting two tackles.

55. TE Shane Zylstra (High: 52; Low: 59)

Last year’s ranking: 72

Zylstra came into 2022 with almost no expectations to play, but for the second straight season, the Lions ended up having to depend on him and he delivered—this time in a big way. After trading away T.J. Hockenson, Zylstra made 13 game appearances (two starts) and pulled in 11 catches for four touchdowns last year.

Unfortunately for Zylstra, he’s firmly fourth in the tight end room right now, behind second-round rookie Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright, and second-year player James Mitchell. Zylstra has always done what is asked of him, and is a capable special teamer, though, so he could justify a TE4 spot on the roster.

54. CB Starling Thomas V (High: 52; Low: 60)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Thomas V occupies an unprecedentedly high spot on the list for an undrafted rookie, but for understandable reasons. He comes into camp with a phenomenal athletic profile—including 4.38 speed—that would make him an ideal candidate for a gunner job on special teams. He also showed his tenacity and competitive spirit in spring practices, showing some serious potential on defense.

With potential versatility as both an outside corner and a nickel defender, Thomas V will compete for a reserve role with the likes of Chase Lucas, Saivion Smith, and Brady Breeze, among others.

53. DT Levi Onwuzurike (High: 41; Low: 73)

Last year’s ranking: 31

It is not surprising that Onwuzurike has fallen 22 spots on our ranking and that our range of votes is so wide. No one truly knows what this guy’s future is right now.

After missing all of 2022 with a back injury that eventually required surgery—the specifics of which were never explained publicly—it’s hard to know if Onwuzurike has anything left to offer the game of football. The only thing we know is that he’s not giving up that dream. Coach Dan Campbell said the team hopes he can return to actual practice sometime during training camp, but that is far from guaranteed.

And, of course, we have no idea how Onwuzurike would even look if he played. It’s been a very long time since he’s comfortably played football, and it’s impossible to know how he’s developed (if he has at all) since being drafted. All we know is that Onwuzurike was an exceptional college player with extremely promising physical traits. Whether that player ever emerges in the professional ranks remains to be seen.

52. LB Anthony Pittman (High: 50; Low: 56)

Last year’s ranking: 62

Pittman has come a long way, and I think it’s time we celebrate what has been a pretty successful career for an undrafted rookie out of Wayne State. Here are his rankings throughout his four years in Detroit.

2019: 87th
2020: 70th
2021: 59th
2022: 62nd

It’s not a flashy career, but Pittman has slowly been rising the ranks and did so through a change of coaching staff. Under Dan Campbell, he hasn’t missed a single game, providing Detroit with solid, consistent special teams contributions.

Pittman will have to continue his battle for a roster spot this year, as Detroit’s linebacker room continues to improve, but Pittman’s versatility—he can play a little EDGE—gives him a fighting shot.

51. CB Chase Lucas (High: 49; Low: 55)

Last year’s ranking: 50

Lucas’ ranking stays steady from last year after missing most of his rookie season due to injury. He made enough of an impression during training camp—and on “Hard Knocks”—for many to believe the seventh-round pick has a future in this league, either as a special teamer or a legit defensive player.

At 26 years old, Lucas brings some savvy and the Lions are testing his versatility at both outside and nickel corner. The more he can do, the better chance he has at making the 53-man roster.

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