The Detroit Lions have banked two full weeks of training camp practices and we at Pride of Detroit have been in attendance for all of them. Over the last 11 practices, we have seen players step up when opportunities present themselves, as well as players who have struggled to find their footing.
For this exercise, we will be examining each position group and slotting players into one of three categories: stock up, no change, or stock down.
- An “up” designation indicates the player is either performing above expectations or that their role is changing in a positive way.
- Most players will fall into the “no change” category, which simply means they are doing what we anticipated.
- If a player lands in the “down” category, they are either underperforming or have seen their role limited more than previously projected.
Stock up: None
No change: Jared Goff, Nate Sudfeld, Hendon Hooker* (NFI), Adrian Martinez*
Stock down: None
Not really much to change regarding the quarterback position, as we very clearly know where each one sits on the roster.
I considered putting Sudfeld as an “up” candidate, because his play may be the reason we haven’t heard any more Teddy Bridgewater talk, but he has some flaws to his game that are becoming noticeable. Still, he may be the best reserve quarterback the Lions have had in a decade. Martinez is improving, but he isn’t ready to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster just yet. Hooker continues to go through a scripted routine with the training staff multiple days a week, and as improved as he looks, he is still a ways away from practicing.
Stock up: Justin Jackson
No change: David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs*, Jason Cabinda (FB), Craig Reynolds, Jermar Jefferson
Stock down: Mohamed Ibrahim*
Jackson has come in and solidified his spot on the roster with solid special teams contributions, reliability on offense, and had the play of the day during the Lions “scrimmage” last Thursday. Regardless of whether it’s RB3 or RB4, Jackson looks like he has a firm grasp on a spot on the 53-man roster.
Reynolds continues to run as the team's third option for touches, but he is being outplayed on special teams by Jefferson. I still have Reynolds ahead on my depth chart, and that was before Jefferson missed practice on Saturday.
Ibrahim lands in the down column not because he has been playing poorly, but more because his opportunities have been significantly limited compared to the rest of the backs. He’ll still have a shot to boost his stock in joint practices and the preseason, but he has some work to do. He could be headed for a stash-and-develop role on the practice squad.
Stock up: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Dylan Drummond*
No change: Josh Reynolds, Jameson Williams, Kalif Raymond, Marvin Jones, Denzel Mims, Maurice Alexander, Chase Cota, Avery Davis
Stock down: Tom Kennedy (IR), Trinity Benson, Antoine Green*
St. Brown is a target monster and continues to improve every practice. The offense clearly runs through him. After the Sun God, the clear winner of the week at receiver is Drummond. The UDFA rookie out of Eastern Michigan has steadily risen up the depth chart and has seized every opportunity available to him.
“We knew pretty quick like this is a pretty sharp guy,” Campbell said of Drummond. “Like you had a gut feeling, he’s going to be able to get this pretty quick. And so, hey man, let’s give him a look, bring him into camp and he is not disappointing.”
Drummond has gone from a potential practice squad player to a potential WR6 role heading into the preseason.
I was close to adding Reynolds and Williams to the “up” category here but Reynolds’ consistency has seen a little hiccup as of late, and Williams missed practice on Saturday—and it’s unclear why—bringing the pair back to level.
Kennedy lands in the “down” category as his season appears to be over after being placed on injured reserve. Benson, who was firmly in the WR6 conversation, is likely to miss “a good week or so” with an injury, which could negatively impact his chances for the team. Finally, Green also lands in the “down” group because it appears he has taken a bit of a step back in opportunities. It looks like he may have been overwhelmed with his early run with the top unit, and has been scaled back some so he can get back to the basics.
Stock up: Sam LaPorta*, James Mitchell
No change: Brock Wright, Darrell Daniels, Daniel Helm
Stock down: Shane Zylstra (IR)
LaPorta has been a stud through the first two weeks of training camp, and like St. Brown, he’s stacking positive performances on top of one another. Mitchell’s stock was trending up before Zylstra’s injury landed him on injured reserve, but now he is firmly locked into the TE3 spot.
“As a group, we’re pleased,” Campbell said. “Because Mitchell just quietly gets better and better. Brock (Wright) is somebody we trust. There’s a high level of trust with him because he’s always going to be where he’s supposed to be, and he’s going to give you all he’s got. And so, we built a three-year trust with him, that just there’s nothing would tell us that you can’t trust the guy. And then LaPorta’s come—he’s getting better, he’s developing. And so was Zlystra, that’s why it hurts to lose him. I hate it for him.”
Stock up: Graham Glasgow, Colby Sorsdal*, Kayode Awosika, Obinna Eze
No change: Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, Penei Sewell, Ross Pierschbacher, Darrin Paulo, Logan Stenberg, Conor Galvin*, Ryan Swoboda*, Brad Cecil*, Max Pircher
Stock down: Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Matt Nelson, Germain Ifedi
Glasgow has been firmly in the mix for a starting role all camp, but with Vaitai needing his snaps managed, it’s fair to wonder if the Lions will be able to count on him for any considerable length of time. Glasgow has been steady, played at both right guard and center throughout camp, and looks solid.
“He’s smart, he handles his business and he’s going to be reliable,” Campbell said of Glasgow. “He’s gone in there and done a nice job at guard and then man, we just bump him right into center ... he’s kind of a guy you don’t have to worry about. You don’t have to worry it’s going to be too big for him or he’s going to mess something up mentally. He’s just going to go in there and handle his business and that’s one of the reasons we acquired him, and I think he’s shown that to this point.”
With Vaitai being limited and Glasgow filling in, it’s opened the door for Sorsdal to get consistent reps with the second team, which will be vital once the regular season arrives. Awosika has also settled in as the second-team left guard and is starting to separate himself from the other interior reserves.
The offensive tackle depth beyond the starters remains a question mark. Nelson has been the preferred top option, but he has been less than impressive in his opportunities. Ifedi was repping consistently with the second team through Week 1 but has dropped to the third team for long stretches as Eze is demonstrating strength and development. Eze still seems very raw, which may preclude the coaching staff from entrusting him with an OT3 role at this time, but the other two primary competitors need to step up.
Interior defensive line
Stock up: Brodric Martin*, Benito Jones
No change: Alim McNeill, Isaiah Buggs, Levi Onwuzurike, Chris Smith*, Cory Durden*
Stock down: Christian Covington
Martin has been consistently cycling with Buggs through first-team reps and has been routinely making big plays in camp. He appears to have secured himself a spot in the rotation and is giving Buggs a run for the starter job.
“That’s the reason why we wanted to see (Martin) against some of the ones to see exactly how he was going to operate,” defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of Martin flashing. “That’s not an easy job going against Ragnow, now. That’s not an easy job, but the only way to find out is to put his (explicit) in there and see what he’s going to do, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Jones continues to look solid as DT4 and has put himself in the conversation to make the roster. If the Lions keep four interior players, it may come down to him and Onwuzurike. As Jones rises, Covington’s opportunities seem to be slipping away.
Stock up: Josh Paschal
No change: Aidan Hutchinson, Charles Harris, John Cominsky, James Houston, Romeo Okwara
Stock down: Julian Okwara
Paschal looks bigger and faster entering his second year, and his positional versatility will likely lead to him finding the football field early and often in the regular season.
“That’s one player that I’m very excited for,” Glenn said of Paschal. “For the simple fact of what you just said, that he really didn’t get a chance to go through training camp last year. […] I think we’re starting to see the fruits of that show up. He’s a powerful, physical man and again, that’s why we drafted him in the second round. We expected those things from him, and he’s going to be a good player. He’s going to be a really good player, and I’m excited to see what he’s going to give us in the season.”
Julian Okwara had a timely interception on Saturday, but will it be enough to improve his stock? Probably not yet, but if he can stack more productive days, he’ll have a chance because Campbell has noted that consistency is his biggest area of weakness.
“Consistency,” Campbell noted where Julian Okwara needed to improve. “And that’s really always been that for him, which we’ve talked about as well with him. He’s a flash player, man. He does something really impressive and then it just kind of reverts back at times. He doesn’t use what he’s been taught and so he—man, he just has to continually put on tape what he’s been taught and those little flash plays, they have to become the norm. We’re at the point now, we’re year three with him, with us, and so those things have to show up every time because he’s too talented, he just is. And I would say that’s it, consistency.”
Stock up: Jack Campbell*, Derrick Barnes
No change: Alex Anzalone, Malcolm Rodriguez, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Anthony Pittman, Trevor Nowaske*
Stock down: None
It’s kind of crazy to not have any linebackers in the “down” category, but it’s hard to find a player that is not playing to expectations. Jack Campbell is getting more and more reps with the starters and it seems like only a matter of time before he locks down the role. His primary competition for the job is Barnes, who has also noticeably improved his game, but it may be difficult to keep pace with the first-round rookie.
Stock up: Steven Gilmore*
No change: Cameron Sutton, Jerry Jacobs, Starling Thomas*, Tae Hayes
Stock down: Emmanuel Moseley (PUP), Jarren Williams (IR), Khalil Dorsey
Gilmore has looked like the best of the deep reserves at corner, but he may still be on the outside looking in of the final roster decisions. He has upside for certain, and he has flashed on more than one occasion, but he may be a bit too raw physically to jump any of the defensive backs ahead of him at this time.
“Yeah, we like Gily,” Campbell said. “We liked his tape too when he was coming out and he has some awareness about him, he has some instincts, he has ball skills, pretty good movement skills. I think for him, it’s going to be some of it – along with development – is the physical development. He’s not a real big guy. He has to get a little bit of mass on him, get a little bit stronger [...] we’re excited about him.”
Moseley is back in Allen Park, but a reported clean-up procedure on his knee has delayed his availability.
“I don’t know exactly when I’ll be out there, but I feel pretty good,” Moseley said. “I trust the trainers, trust the process, and trust everyone in the building that when the time is right, I’ll be out there.”
Williams was injured this week, passed through waivers, and is currently on the Lions injured reserve, meaning unless he gets an injury settlement, his season is over. Dorsey delivered the ill-fated blow to Zylstra—leading to him being placed on IR—and has looked hesitant with contact since. Tough spot for a player trying to work his way up the depth chart.
Hybrid defensive back
Stock up: C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Brian Branch*, Chase Lucas
No change: Will Harris
Stock down: None
This group has impressed day after day after day. Gardner-Johnson looks like a leader who can line up all over the field. Branch looks like an absolute steal of a draft pick and is making not one, but multiple impact plays every practice. I could gush on about Branch for another 1,000 words, but if you’ve been reading my daily training camp observations, you probably get the gist of my excitement.
Lucas gets added to this group and is in the “up” category for me because he has taken solid steps from Week 1 that are worth recognizing. Not only has he shifted his game to include both outside and inside corner, but he has also gotten snaps at safety, illustrating his ever expanding role. But it’s not just on defense that Lucas has seen his role expand, he is also holding down important roles on special teams and is firmly in the gunner mix as well.
In last week’s bubble watch, I was the only POD staff member to have Lucas as “In” for our projections, and I may be the only member to have him in again this week, but I am more than comfortable standing on this island alone.
Stock up: Saivion Smith
No change: Tracy Walker, Kerby Joseph, Brady Breeze, Brandon Joseph*
Stock down: Ifeatu Melifonwu
Smith started camp on the third team but he has slowly worked his way up to the second and with Melifonwu missing some days this week due to injury, Smith has seized the opportunity to make an impact—most notably getting his hands on the football, creating pass breakups and an interception. With his special teams contributions, he is firmly in the mix with Melifonwu, who continues to battle the injury bug.
Stock up: Riley Patterson (K), Scott Daly (LS)
No change: Jack Fox (P), Parker Romo (K), Jake McQuaide (LS)
The kicker and long snapper competitions have been extremely tight and it’s fairly difficult to give an edge to any of the players, but I put Patterson and Daly in the “up” category based on my reading between the lines of coaches' press conferences.
“Yeah, it’s been good,” Campbell said of the kicker competition. “We all know that Riley, there’s a steadiness about him, and [...] he has a stronger leg as it pertains to kick-offs. Like his kick-offs are much better. He’s getting more hang time, he’s getting more depth. He’s been pretty steady on field goals, so it’s good. And then Romo, as we know, man, he has a massive leg, and he will always (need) just a little bit of working on that accuracy and control. Which, we kind of know that. It’s about just competing and developing and getting a little bit better.”
When special teams coach Dave Fipp took the podium on Saturday, his responses echoed Campbell’s statement.
“(Romo’s) got a lot of leg talent, and maybe he needs a little bit more development, but we feel like he’s done a nice job, and then a little bit more consistent but a young player. And Patterson who obviously we know a lot about and the truth is he is really coming along. And his leg strength has really increased, he looks really good in the training camp. I am really excited about him.”
TL;DR: Romo has a big leg, Patterson is more accurate and his power is increasing.
At long snapper, it’s a similar story. The Lions had a guy they liked but were hoping would improve, so competition was brought in to push said player and it’s resulting in positive performances.
“We wanted to bring in competition,” Campbell said of the long snapper battle. “(Mc)Quaide’s a guy who’s been, he’s done this for a long time. He’s been a high-level snapper and it was an opportunity to add a guy like him and then also to push Daly, let’s see where Daly can go. And it hasn’t disappointed because really, I feel like Daly’s game is elevated. He’s gotten better. His speed of his snaps, location, getting out of his stance, and protection are—like it’s showing up [...] We’re trying to pull the most out of these guys and let the best man win.”
Fipp gave a bit more detail than Campbell on the long snapper situation, but again, it was closely matched to the head coach.
“I felt like personally (Daly) didn’t make the step forward that we wanted to see from him from the year before,” Fipp continued. “We thought he got better, but he could get better at a faster rate and sometimes competition helps accelerate that process, and then the McQuaide thing kind of fell into our hands. [...] We were very forthcoming with what the opportunity looked like (for McQuaide) and if (the competition) were even then Daly would end up getting the nod over him. He was gonna have to come in here and beat him out. [...] Both of these guys are playing great and at a high level right now, so we’re excited about it.”
TL’DR: If Daly keeps the competition even (or better), the long snapper job will be his.