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Ranking every player on the Detroit Lions 2023 roster: 50-41

We’re still in the midst of the Detroit Lions roster bubble in our full rankings of the team’s 90-man roster.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

For the past two installments of our 2023 Detroit Lions roster rankings, we’ve been talking about the team’s “bubble players.” Just about everyone ranked 70-51 has a chance at the initial 53-man roster, which highlights the team’s decent depth right now.

Now we’re crossing over into the top 50, and while these players are technically “in” mathematically, just about every single one of these guys are also firmly on the bubble. That’s around 30 players fighting for maybe a dozen roster spots.

Let’s get into the players who we ranked 50-41 on the Lions roster.


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

50. DB Saivion Smith (High: 42; Low: 68)

Last year’s ranking: 75

This is a pretty significant jump for Smith, who only played in a single game last year and suffered a pretty serious injury. However, Smith made a strong impression both with fans and the coaching staff during last training camp. This year, he’ll have to deal with a transformed secondary, but he certainly has a shot if he can show his value on special teams.

49. WR Antoine Green (High: 44; Low: 60)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

The Lions’ seventh-round rookie has the inside track for Detroit’s WR5 job. At spring camp, he separated himself from the rest of the depth, but the addition on Denzel Mims this week (who is not on this countdown) may complicate things a little for Green.

48. DT Christian Covington (High: 39; Low: 81)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Detroit’s defensive tackle room is relatively thin, and with the Lions coaching staff publicly saying they want to scale back the roles of guys like Isaiah Buggs, having a veteran like Covington (102 game appearances, 32 career starts) brings some value. That being said, Covington has played on four different teams in the past five years for a reason.

47. S Ifeatu Melifonwu (High: 41 Low: 57)

Last year’s ranking: 29

Iffy took a pretty significant fall this year after being moved to safety last season. Injuries took a toll early on in 2022, but he finally got to see the field toward the end of the season when healthy. His first start came in the disaster against the Panthers, but the following week against the Bears he looked much more comfortable at safety.

With a full offseason to get comfortable in the position and a relatively thin safety group, Melifonwu has a good chance to stick around this year.

46. G Colby Sorsdal (High: 45; Low: 52)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Like Green, Sorsdal likely has a leg up on the competition due to being a Day 3 draft pick. However, Sorsdal’s path may be even easier than Green’s simply because Detroit’s interior offensive line depth is relatively weak.

That said, going from William and Mary to the NFL is not going to be an easy transition, and Sorsdal will have a trial by fire this camp.

45. OT Matt Nelson (High: 44; Low: 50)

Last year’s ranking: 43

Speaking of offensive line depth, Nelson returns as the incumbent swing tackle. But after a tough year from Nelson, the Lions did bring in veteran Germain Ifedi to compete for that spot. With second-year tackle Obinna Eze also potentially challenging for the spot, Nelson will have to show some improvement from 2022.

44. LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (High: 39; Low: 58)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Reeves-Maybin is back after spending a season with the Texans. Last time he was with Detroit (2021) he ranked 37th on our list.

As a core special teamer, Reeves-Maybin’s spot on the team seems relatively safe. The fact that the Lions re-invested in him this year is only further proof that this regime views him favorably.

43. RB Craig Reynolds (High: 39; Low: 54)

Last year’s ranking: 41

The Lions’ RB3 job is absolutely wide open, but Reynolds is understandably the highest ranked reserve running back on our list. Not only has he played this role twice in the past two years, but he is a highly capable special teamer. Still, Reynolds can’t be complacent, because Jermar Jefferson, Mohamed Ibrahim, and Greg Bell all have legit chances at that job.

42. FB Jason Cabinda (High: 36; Low: 49)

Last year’s ranking: 22

Whether the Lions will keep a fullback is a hot topic here in Detroit and it’s a very fair debate. Cabinda’s attitude and effort are everything Dan Campbell could possible want in a player, but when it comes to on-field production, Cabinda just hasn’t had it. In the past three years, he has just 12 total touches. Will being a valued member of special teams still be enough?

Cabinda’s 20-rank fall is both an indication that he’s starting to lose some faith with our staff and that the Lions roster has gotten remarkably better to a point where a fullback doesn’t come close to cracking the top 25 anymore.

41. EDGE Julian Okwara (High: 40; Low: 47)

Last year’s ranking: 26

Okwara also took a pretty big tumble in our list this year. Julian has struggled to stay healthy, and with the sudden emergence of James Houston, Okwara’s roster spot suddenly seems very much in question. With only 2.0 sacks last year, he’ll have to both improve as a pass rusher and expand his role into special teams—something he’s done very little of thus far.

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