On Tuesday, the Detroit Lions PR department released their 2023 Preseason Game 1 media guide, and included in that document is the team's first “unofficial” depth chart.
Keeping in mind that this look at the Lions roster is made by the PR department and not coaches, means you should take the roster hierarchy with a small grain of salt. That being said, this is very close to what the media has been seeing during the first two weeks of training camp.
Let’s take a look at some of the most notable slotting on the depth chart and discuss a few things that we at Pride of Detroit have seen differently.
Where’s Teddy Bridgewater?
At the time this media was released, Bridgewater was not technically signed with the Lions yet. Additionally, this guide is designed as a reference tool for the first game of the preseason and Bridgewater is not expected to be up to speed for the game against the Giants.
“I see Teddy next week,” coach Dan Campbell said about when Bridgewater would join the Lions. “He’ll be here (this week), but that’s the plan. He’ll be here, but I don’t see him doing anything until next week.”
Seniority plays a part in listing starters
At the Lions skill positions, you’ll notice spots where veterans are listed ahead of younger first or second-year players. This is done out of respect and as a reflection of what coaches tend to prefer when listing starters.
At running back, David Montgomery is listed ahead of Jahmyr Gibbs, yet when it comes time for snap distribution, things are expected to be pretty close to even. The same is true of Brock Wright and Sam LaPorta at tight end, as well as Marvin Jones Jr. and Jameson Williams.
Right guard competition
As the incumbent starter, Halapoulivaati Vaitai is listed at the top of the right guard rankings, yet, it’s been Graham Glasgow who has seen more reps throughout camp. This is another example of seniority coming into play, as well as the fact that Glasgow needs to win the job, not the other way around.
Additionally, the Lions have shown a preference for using Glasgow as their primary reserve center when Frank Ragnow is unavailable. Yet, Ross Pierschbacher is in that spot because Glasgow is listed under right guard—the starting position he is competing for.
Levi Onwuzurike vs. Benito Jones
Onwuzurike is listed ahead of Jones at defensive tackle, and while that is the smart bet for when the roster is cut down to 53 players, Jones has been clearly ahead in the pecking order through the first two weeks and should play above him in the game as well.
The Lions deploy their edge rushers in so many different roles that listing them on a static depth chart is challenging. Aidan Hutchinson and Charles Harris are listed as the starters and should be in almost every defensive alignment. But when the Lions alter their scheme, their depth options play different roles.
When they go big, John Cominsky and Josh Paschal are the preferred choices and that has been reflected in their alignments in camp, as well as on the depth chart. If the Lions want more pure edge rushing talent, then they tend to turn to Romeo Okwara and James Houston—who are ranked on the third line but may be considered second-teamers depending on the formation.
Julian Okwara being listed ahead of his brother gets some pushback from me here, as Romeo has been repping ahead of his younger brother in pretty much every situation.
Derrick Barnes ahead of Jack Campbell is correct... for now
While the Lions first-round linebacker Jack Campbell has been steadily getting more and more first-team reps, Barnes is going to get every chance possible to keep that starting spot. This order may change as the preseason moves on, but for now, it’s technically accurate.
Projecting a nickel secondary is accurate
The Lions secondary will indeed play a ton of nickel and the starting trio of Cameron Sutton, Jerry Jacobs, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson appears correct. I might switch Will Harris and Chase Lucas spots on the depth chart, but this is nitpicking on my part as both have rotated as depth on the inside and out.
Riley Patterson ahead of Parker Romo?
Again, this looks like a seniority ranking, as this is very much a competition. Yet, it is worth noting that the Lions have used Patterson first in the rotation during camp, and will likely also do so against the Giants.
Injured players listed at the bottom of their positions
You may also have noticed some players that are expected to make the roster—or at least in competition for a job—are listed at the bottom of their position groups. Emmanuel Moseley (PUP), Hendon Hooker (NFI), and Trinity Benson (injured) are all listed on the fourth string due to injuries. They land here because Moseley and Hooker are still on injury lists and Benson is not expected to be available this week. If they return to or begin practicing, expect their location on the depth chart to change.