Note: Pre-training camp edition can be found here.
We are about a week and a half through training camp, and the first exhibition game of the preseason for Detroit is coming up on Saturday when the Lions take on the Steelers. In one sense, not a lot has changed so far since before training camp to cause dramatic changes to my 53-man roster prediction, but on the other hand, little tidbits of information have resulted in a few changes here or there.
Before I get to who I think will make the 53-man roster, let me explain that I based my predictions on a few things:
- How many players the Lions kept at each position last season (an indicator of what Jim Schwartz and the Lions may do again this year depth-wise)
- Which players are absolute locks to make the team
- Bubble players that are versatile edged out others to make the roster (that is important for Schwartz and company this year)
Further explanations can be found throughout the 53-man breakdown.
Keep (3): Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill, Drew Stanton
Unless there is a serious injury, I don't see the Lions letting go or bringing in any quarterbacks. The depth chart is set with Stafford at the top, Hill as the backup and Stanton as the third-stringer. I suppose the Lions could decide to roll with two QBs on the roster heading into the season if they wanted to keep a player at another position that badly, but I would be surprised if Stanton didn't make the team.
Keep (4): Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith, Aaron Brown, Maurice Morris
Cut: DeDe Dorsey
If the Lions decide to keep four running backs -- and I do think they will -- then it looks like the final spot could come down to Morris and Dorsey. Brown has been having a good camp so far, and based on his upside I doubt the Lions would let him go. Dorsey has some potential as well, including on special teams, which could give him a slight edge over Morris. In the end, though, I would bet on the veteran Morris to lock up a spot on the roster since Dorsey is more of a speed back, which is similar to both Best and Brown.
Keep (1): Jerome Felton
Cut: Matt Clapp, Jake Nordin
Felton can almost be considered a fifth running back based on the way the Lions will use him in short-yard situations. He is the Lions' "power back" in that sense, although he is still a fullback by trade. He is on the team for sure, but I do think Nordin could make a run at being added as a second fullback. He converted to this position from tight end in the offseason, and it's possible that his versatility will win him a spot.
Keep (5): Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Bryant Johnson, Derrick Williams, Tim Toone
Cut: Brian Clark, Eric Fowler, Mike Moore, Contrevious Parks, Dennis Northcutt
In the first edition, I had Northcutt making the team. I have since jumped on the Toone bandwagon, however, so I gave Northcutt's spot to Mr. Irrelevant. The way I see it, Toone has greater potential, both as a slot receiver and as a punt returner. Northcutt showed how inconsistent he can be last year, and although other receivers have said he's a good mentor, I think the pupils (Toone and Williams) will outlast the teacher at this position.
Keep (3): Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, Will Heller
Cut: Richard Dickson, Dan Gronkowski
This is probably one of the easiest positions to predict on the entire roster. The top three tight ends are obvious, and although the other two have upside, if a fourth player that can line up at tight end is going to make the team, it's going to be Nordin, not Dickson or Gronkowski.
Keep (4): Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus, Jon Jansen, Jason Fox
Cut: Corey Hilliard
Like tight end, this position is pretty straightforward as far as predictions go. Backus is the starter at left tackle, and at right tackle you have Jansen and Cherilus battling it out for a starting spot. Fox, the fourth-round pick from Miami, is gaining experience already and will likely be able to fill the role of a backup at both left and right tackle by the time training camp is over with.
Keep (3): Stephen Peterman, Manny Ramirez, Rob Sims
Cut: Trevor Canfield, Roy Schuening
Offensive guard is similar as well, except I only have three players from this position making the team. You'll find out why in a second, but the three I did keep are the two starters (Peterman and Sims) and a guy that started quite a few games last year and has practiced with the first team with Peterman missing some time due to a knee injury (Ramirez).
Keep (2): Dominic Raiola, Dylan Gandy
Cut: Dan Gerberry
Gandy can play both center and guard, so I believe that versatility will allow him to make the team as Raiola's backup and allow the Lions to only take three guards. Gandy is basically the fourth, and with active rosters on game day allowing only 45 players to dress, it is important for O-linemen to be able to play more than one position.
Keep (5): Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril, Jason Hunter, Turk McBride, Jared DeVries
Cut: Chima Ihekwoaba, Willie Young
The only battle I could foresee happening at this position is between DeVries and one of the young guys to make the team. I think the top four is pretty well established, so if anything surprising is going to happen, I believe it would involve DeVries not making the team. After all, he started camp on the PUP list and is injured again, so he is giving guys like Ihekwoaba and Young a chance to show their potential.
Keep (4): Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Sammie Hill, Andre Fluellen
Cut: Robert Callaway, Landon Cohen
Out of the two players I have being cut (Joe Cohen and Leger Douzable have already been let go since the first edition of predictions), I think only Landon Cohen has a legitimate chance of making the team. I say that because Callaway was just let go on Saturday, but he was quickly brought back after Joe Cohen was waived with an injury. That shows that Callaway is perched right on the roster bubble, so the only person who I think can make things interesting a bit is Landon Cohen.
Keep (6): Julian Peterson, DeAndre Levy, Zack Follett, Jordon Dizon, Isaiah Ekejiuba, Vinny Ciurciu
Cut: Ashlee Palmer, Caleb Campbell, Landon Johnson
For me, this was the toughest position to predict. The three starters (Peterson, Levy and Follett) are no mystery, but after that it gets a little tough because it's necessary to bring special teams into the equation. Although being able to play linebacker is obviously important, being a good special teams player is important as well for the backups.
Based on who has stepped in for the injured Levy in the last week or so, I think the fourth and fifth LBs right now are Dizon and Ciurciu. That leaves one spot, and right now I have to give it to Ekejiuba, who is supposed to be one of the top special teams players around. I wanted to badly keep Campbell since he has been practicing with the second team with Levy out and others moving up, but a sixth LB has to be good on special teams, and I think that is where Ekejiuba has the edge. I will say, though, if there is one change I could envision happening for the next edition of the roster prediction, I think it will be Campbell staking his claim as deserving of a spot on the team.
Keep (6): Dre Bly, Chris Houston, Eric King, Amari Spievey, Jonathan Wade, Aaron Berry
Cut: Jack Williams, Dante Wesley, Paul Pratt
The top five players here I'm pretty confident in making the team. The sixth spot is up in the air, however. The first week or so of camp, undrafted free agent Aaron Berry was leaving little doubt that he would make the team, but then an injury that will apparently leave him out for more than just a day or two happened, and his spot on the roster is for sure up in the air. Even so, I think Berry showed enough to coaches when healthy that he will be able to make the team if he returns from his injury in the next week or two. Anything longer could hinder his development, but the coaches did like what they saw when he was healthy.
Keep (4): Louis Delmas, Ko Simpson, C.C. Brown, Randy Phillips
Cut: Jonathan Hefney, Marvin White
The only certainty at this position is that Delmas will make the team. After that, everything is up in the air, especially with Simpson still on the PUP list and unable to practice. I think he will still make the team, but every day it becomes more and more possible that he could be let go if he can't get healthy soon. As for the other two spots, I have Brown making the team and Phillips, the undrafted free agent just picked up last week, edging out White for a spot. If he can stay healthy, I don't think there's much doubt that Phillips will make the team considering how quickly he jumped to the first team after being signed (while Delmas was still out). The one thing I wasn't sure about was whose spot he would take, but in the end I decided on White.
Keep (3): Jason Hanson, Nick Harris, Don Muhlbach
Cut: Aaron Pettrey
Unless Hanson doesn't recover from his surgery and isn't ready to go at the start of the season, there won't be anything unexpected going on with the special teams players.
8 players*: WR Mike Moore, TE Dan Gronkowski, OG Trevor Canfield, C Dan Gerberry, DE Willie Young, DE Chima Ihekwoaba, LB Caleb Campbell, DB Jonathan Hefney
*Because Ihekwoaba is Canadian, it may be possible to add a ninth player. If Jake Nordin is eligible (there's some uncertainty if he could be on the practice squad), then he would be that ninth guy. If only eight can make it, then replace Ihekwoaba with Nordin if he's eligible. (For more on the rules of the practice squad, click here.)