In addition to the Detroit Lions’ eight selected players in the 2022 draft, they have also added another 12 rookies as undrafted free agents. Considering general manager Brad Holmes’ hit rate on UDFAs—four of the 13 UDFAs signed last season remain with the team and all of them started at some point last season—these players are worth paying attention to.
Let’s take a closer look at who they added and break down what these players bring to the 90-man roster.
Greg Bell, RB, San Diego State
5-foot-11, 201 pounds
Contract reportedly has $100,000 guaranteed (source)
Bell is a one-cut power runner who has the foot quickness to get in and out of the hole quickly. He is a decisive, downhill back who follows his blocks to pick up easy yards, but lacks the long speed to be a high yardage producer. Despite the guaranteed money, Bell has some flaws to correct if he hopes to make the roster, specifically his ball security and special teams contributions.
SDSU RB Greg Bell (fmr NEB) is a tall, straight-line runner with some receiving ability. Here he follows his OL and makes a strong cut before stretching his legs, which is his best formula for success in the NFL. #SnapScout21 pic.twitter.com/tsR9InGNgU
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) November 30, 2020
Kalil Pimpleton, Slot WR, Central Michigan
5-foot-8, 172 pounds
A Michigan native (from Muskegon), Pimpleton gets in and out of his breaks with above-average acceleration and has the play speed (legit 4.48 speed) to extend his routes, forcing defensive backs into a trail position. As a natural slot receiver, he has a nose for the ball, and is comfortable going over the middle, but he needs to be sharper with his catching consistency to improve his drops.
Overall, Pimpleton is extremely elusive with the ball in his hands, producing as a receiver, a gadget option, and a punt returner—a collection of skills that can get you a job on the back end of a roster.
Josh Johnson, Slot WR, Tulsa
5-foot-10 1⁄2, 183 pounds
Johnson led Tulsa in receiving in 2021, registering 83 catches for 1,114 yards and six touchdowns. He is a natural route runner, who mixes up his timing and creates consistent separation, and presents a nice target for the quarterback, but drops have been a career problem. While there have been some improvements, nine drops last season (28 in the last three years) is likely the reason he went undrafted. If he can continue to clean up his lapses, he has a shot as a reserve slot option.
Corey Sutton, WR, Appalachian State
6-foot-1 1⁄2, 208 pounds
A vertical threat who consistently gets over the top of defensive backs and forces them to play catchup. He’s not a separator, but he does track the ball well and shows strong hands at the catch point, which led to 904 yards on 61 receptions last season. Sutton is a bit of a one-trick pony and will likely need to expand his game more to earn a roster spot.
Derrick Deese Jr., TE, San Jose State
6-foot-3, 236 pounds
Contact reportedly has $100,000 guaranteed (source)
Deese was a TE-F type (pass catcher) who led Spartans in receiving last season with 47 catches for 730 yards, but he projects more to the TE-Y (inline)/H-Back role in the NFL with average to below-average athleticism. Physical at the second level, both as a pass-catcher and blocker, Deese has a nice balance of skills for a back end tight end role. He needs to get better at separating, but he is still developing his skillset, and there appears room for growth. Making the practice squad seems like the floor, with TE3 potential with time.
Nolan Givan, TE, Southeastern Louisiana
6-foot-2 1⁄2, 247 pounds
Contact reportedly has $10,000 guaranteed (source)
The Berkley, Michigan native registered 56 receptions for 572 yards last season and earned first-team All-Southland Conference honors. Another balanced tight end who can be used as a short-yardage pass catcher as well as a blocker. Like Deese, his NFL future is likely in an Inline/H-Back role.
Obinna Eze, OT, TCU
6-foot-6 1⁄2, 321 pounds
Contact reportedly has $170,000 guaranteed (source)
Eze is the highest-rated player among the Lions’ UDFA draft class, receiving fifth to seventh round grades from several draft analysts. Bleacher reports Brandon Thorn, who is arguably the most highly respected offensive line analyst around, had this to say in his draft profile of Eze:
Overall, Eze is a massive obstacle to work around in pass-protection with rare length to end reps quickly once latched and deliver some knockback power in the run game, but he is a rigid mover without the necessary lateral quickness and body control to play on an island or sustain blocks consistently. This makes him worth a flier in the undrafted market as a long-term, stash-and-develop option because of his size, strength and physicality.
Eze’s length is indeed rare, measuring in with 36 1/8-inch arm length and a 7-foot-1 3⁄4 -inch wingspan. And he uses that natural asset to his advantage, creating a longer path to the ball for edge rushers, as well as the ability to initiate first contact. His strength is evident, and he can relocate defenders in the run game.
Despite starting 37 games, the rest of his skills are still raw, and he could use some time to work on his technique, bend, and foot quickness. That being said, he has the potential to quickly develop into a swing tackle capable of playing both the left and right side, and it would be mildly disappointing if he didn’t exit camp as OT4 on the Lions’ depth chart.
6-foot-5, 317 pounds
Contact reportedly has $155,000 guaranteed (source)
With 39 career starts and experience at right guard (25), right tackle (11), and left tackle (3), Jarvis showed some appealing flexibility in East Lansing, though his home in the NFL will probably be inside, likely at right guard. His strength is as a run blocker, where he looks to finish with violence, and he was often a catalyst for creating space for second-round pick Kenneth Walker. Jarvis is right on the fringe for his height becoming an issue for an interior player. When he bends at the knees, lowers his pad level, and drives, he can be very effective, but if he gets too high, he can lose leverage. There are some injury concerns, but his guaranteed money is a solid indicator the Lions have plans for him in some capacity.
Zein Obeid, OL, Ferris State
6-foot-4, 309 pounds
Dave Birkett did a nice write-up on Obeid for the Free Press, discussing how he moved to the Dearborn when he was 10 years old, how he grew up a Lions fan, and how that influenced him to take up football.
“Football is everything to me,” Obeid told the Freep. “Since I got to Ferris I’ve told my dad like, ‘This is it. I got here, I worked hard, got here, I have to do something with it.’ A lot of people get to college, they get distracted by drinking, partying, going out, this and that. I stayed away from all of this and then just dedicated my life to football.”
Ferris State’s left tackle in 2019 and 2021 (they canceled 2020 due to COVID), Obeid is a mauler who loves the game and burying defenders. He is likely destined to push inside in the NFL, and when combined with a jump in competition, he could have a big learning curve in front of him.
Demetrius Taylor, DL Appalachian State
6-foot-0, 289 pounds
At 6-foot-0, 289 pounds, Taylor gets pegged as a defensive tackle, but he played at the 5-technique (defensive end) spot in App State’s four-man front, the same role the Lions plan on using second-round pick Josh Paschal at in their new scheme. Like Paschal, Taylor is a bit of a hybrid talent and could see time at both the 5T and 3T due to his elite first step and non-stop motor. If you’re getting Alim McNeill vibes, you’re not alone, there is a lot to like about his game.
#Lions (reported) UDFA DL Demetrius Taylor (6001, 289), played the 5T in App State’s 4-man front. But that first step can be lethal and it makes me wonder if they will put him on the same path as Josh Paschal—some situational 5T and 3T work. pic.twitter.com/Yb0v3sDiQP
— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) May 5, 2022
A three-year starter in Virginia Tech’s zone-based scheme, Waller is an interesting evaluation. He has the physicality to play press-man, but there should be some concerns surrounding his long speed, which could move him away from an outside corner job in the NFL. His ability to press and leverage receiver’s routes could make him a candidate for the slot but he lacks the quickness to stay with shifty receivers. The Lions will surely test him at several spots during camp looking for the right fit (like they did last offseason with AJ Parker) because his game intelligence and ball skills are appealing. His best role may be as a DIME defender in zone packages and special teamer.
Cedric Boswell, NB, Miami Ohio
5-foot-10 1⁄2, 185 pounds
Yet another Michigan native, Boswell attended Birmingham Groves in Beverly Hills, the same high school as Lions’ linebacker Anthony Pittman. He’s more of an athlete than the testing indicates and will battle receivers on every play. He’s probably not going to live on the outside in the NFL, and he’s better suited for zone than man, which might make working out of the slot difficult. But because of his strong tackling skills, my guess is that he gets his shot inside first, with a possible shift to safety in his future.