Tom Greene | September 7th, 2019
The Detroit Lions are on the prowl. In Matt Patricia‘s second season as Head Coach, the squad is hoping to improve on their 6-10 record from last season. In their way stands a host of foes. Kyler Murray, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, and Aaron Rodgers, just to name a few. To take down these men and take on the challenge of winning the NFC North, you must have a sound 53-man roster. 6-10 tells me there’s a lot of work to do, and I’m sure it says the same to my fellow readers. However, let’s become familiar with the roster that will be with us for this 2019 season.
Detroit Lions 53-man roster
The Lions kept three. Matthew Stafford, Josh Johnson, and David Blough. Blough is a surprise addition to this roster, as David Fales was the primary starter during the preseason. The breakout man, to no surprise, will be Stafford, as this is his 11th season with the team. But, if he gets injured, expect Johnson, the veteran, to take the majority of the snaps. Blough was a standout at Purdue, but the Browns weren’t impressed with him. Detroit picked him up, and we’ll see if he sees the field this year.
The Lions kept four. Kerryon Johnson, C.J. Anderson, Ty Johnson, and Nick Bawden as Fullback. Under Darrell Bevell‘s new offense, expect the ground game to get going once again. The offensive line will need to do a better job, as the Lions have only had one 100+ yard rusher on the squad since 2013 (Reggie Bush). Thankfully, that rusher is on the roster in Johnson. He must stay healthy for the offense to become potent. However, if he doesn’t, the ball lies in Anderson’s hands, to which he’s taken the lead before in Denver. I expect Johnson to have a breakout season, and maybe eclipse 1,000 rushing yards. Lions fans would be ecstatic to see that.
A lacking point in the Lions’ offense of old, the team kept three. T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James and Logan Thomas. Hockenson caught a lot of passes at Iowa along with Noah Fant. In this game, I expect that he will take over the position now that Michael Roberts was let go from last season. The Seahawks (Bevell’s old offense), didn’t rely on the Tight End position too often, so catches for Hockenson and James may come few and far between. But, their roles are still as big as they would be in a catching role. Expect Hockenson, James, and Thomas to open holes for Johnson. Kerryon, my wayward son! There’ll be peace when the Lions have won.
The Lions kept five. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Chris Lacy, and Travis Fulgham. It is a surprise that this team cut Tommylee Lewis, as he was the unfortunate victim of a heinous crime in the NFC Championship Game by Nickell Robey-Coleman that the refs didn’t see (but the New Orleans PD did. “Charges” were later dropped, like the Titans’ did on the one-yard line in 2000. Sorry, Jeff Fisher). Nonetheless, Amendola will take Golden Tate‘s spot in the slot, which he’s done before in New England. I expect Golladay to get the majority of touches, but Jones Jr. will be good for a long play, and Amendola could be a sleeper WR3 or FLEX in fantasy plays. Golden Tate was that way, why not Danny? Let’s just hope Golladay and Jones Jr. can stay healthy for a full season.
Is not Swiss Cheese. That’s something you’ll find in Green Bay. The Lions kept nine. Taylor Decker, Kenny Wiggins, Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow, Rick Wagner, Joe Dahl, Tyrell Crosby, Oday Aboushi and Beau Benzschawel will have the job of protecting Stafford this season. They will also be opening up holes for Johnson in Bevell’s offensive scheme. The players to watch will be Ragnow and Decker. Ragnow, of course, was hurt in the third preseason game and has been limited in practice. But, if he can suit up in all 16 games, he will make a huge difference for Stafford, as will Decker. Both have provided Stafford with the protection he needs, but when they are hurt, the line looks lost. Bevell will be relying on them a lot this year, as will Stafford. Let’s hope my “is not Swiss Cheese” line stands up to be true.
Has improved with Paul Pasqualoni and Patricia’s help. The Lions kept seven. Da’Shawn Hand, Damon Harrison Sr. (Snacks), A’Shawn Robinson, Mike Daniels, Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara and Kevin Strong are looking to give QBs fits (or Fitz?) this season. Snacks has been among the top in rush stopping, so RBs like David Johnson, Dalvin Cook, and Melvin Gordon need to put their head on a swivel against this defense. The breakout player, of course, will be Snacks, but look for Flowers to make an immediate impact like Snacks did. A veteran presence on the D-Line will be great for Robinson and Hand to develop even more. QBs like those described at the top, Patrick Mahomes II and Philip Rivers will also have to have their head on a swivel as the defense looks to eat snacks. A lot of them.
The struggle of this corps along with the Corners, the Lions kept seven. Devon Kennard, Jahlani Tavai, Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Miles Killebrew and Austin Bryant are responsible for stopping broken plays this season. This crew has had its struggles in seasons past, but the breakout guy to look for is Kennard. The Veteran from the Giants looks to have the same role that Snacks has up front, but needs to help Davis, Reeves-Maybin, and Tavai develop more soundly, as the Lions look to improve on their defense that improved over last season. This core could be the difference between 6-10 and 10-6.
No Teez Tabor? Lions fans are rejoicing, as they have found seven without him. Darius Slay, Rashaan Melvin, Justin Coleman, Amani Oruwariye, Jamal Agnew, Mike Ford, and Dee Virgin are responsible for covering receivers such as Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill, Antonio Brown and Mike Evans this season. The breakout guy will be Slay, without a doubt; there’s a reason why he’s named “Big Play Slay”. But, look for Coleman and Melvin to make standout plays, and Agnew will be huge to return kicks and punts. Slay is now a seasoned veteran, and can help the young corps develop. This, along with the LBs, can make a difference over the course of a season.
No, not Dan Orlovsky running through the back of the end zone, the guys that spy on the middle of the field during a pass play. The Lions kept five. Quandre Diggs, Tracy Walker, Will Harris, Tavon Wilson, and C.J. Moore will have this responsibility. They have had their struggles in the past, but Diggs has made key interceptions that kept the Lions’ team afloat last year. He will be the star, but watch for Walker to have a much-improved season. He cost Detroit the 49ers game in Week 2 last season with a costly hold, but with improvement from the defensive scheme, he could become a standout in this unit.
With help from the rest of the lineup, the Lions kept three. Don Muhlbach (The GOAT), Matt Prater and Sam Martin have the duty of surrendering the ball to the other team or scoring with it. This has to be a legendary special teams unit, for Lions’ fans. I mean, there are a lot of teams that would give up A LOT to have a GOAT, some beer and Nastia Liukin cheering them on. A pair of teams in the NFC North would give up a lot for it, that’s for sure. (Thank God we didn’t give up a draft pick for a cut kicker. Cough, Cough, Vikings). All joking aside, their roles are pivotal to this team, as many, many points are scored from them. With John Bonamego back on the sidelines to help this unit, expect the Lions’ special teams corps to be among the top of the league, which will relax the Lions fans… and make Bears and Vikings fans jealous.
The Lions have some young and veteran talent in place. They also have a second-year coach to guide them. This will be a trying year, in a division that’s very, very good. I’d expect anywhere from 6-10 to 10-6, and with a tough schedule that features the AFC West, each win will be earned by this mix of young and old. Let’s hope the Lions can challenge the Bears and Vikings for the North, and let’s hope Aaron Rodgers doesn’t stand in anyone’s way of that.
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