Way too early Detroit Lions 53-man roster prediction ahead of OTA’s

Yardbarker

We’re getting closer and closer to having football back. The 2024 NFL Draft is well into the rearview now and OTA’s begin for the Detroit Lions on Tuesday.

As we get closer, the Lions final roster will begin to come more and more into view. We already had a way too early 53-man roster prediction after the draft, but things have already changed in the last few weeks. Here’s our prediction for the Lions 53-man roster ahead of OTA’s

Quarterback (2)

Starter: Jared Goff
Backup: Hendon Hooker

Out: Nate Sudfeld

Nothing changing here. Goff and Hooker remain the Lions two quarterbacks with Nate Sudfeld sticking with the team to be their practice squad guy. I’m curious to see if they add a fourth guy during camp. 

Running back (3)

Starters: Jahmyr Gibbs, David Montgomery
Backups: Sione Vaki

Out: Craig Reynolds, Zonovan Knight, Jermar Jefferson, Jake Funk

Last year the Lions brought three running backs into the season and one of them was a fullback. This year the Lions do the same thing, but with no fullback. Sione Vaki is likely to be a bigger part of this offense than it might seem. He has more ability than Reynolds and Knight and that’s going to make him a priority. Especially the special teams ability. 

Wide receiver (6)

Starters: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, Donovan Peoples-Jones
Backups: Antoine Green, Kalif Raymond, Isaiah Williams

Out: Tre’Quan Smith, Jalon Calhoun, Tom Kennedy, Daurice Fountain, Maurice Alexander, Kaden Davis

The big difference here is that UDFA Isaiah Williams makes the team. His yards after catch ability is what’s going to get him the shot. It could be a lot like what the Lions did with Antoine Green last year when they stashed him on the 53-man roster. Williams isn’t someone you want to get away. 

Tight ends (4)

Starter: Sam LaPorta
Backups: Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra, Sean McKeon

Out: Isaac Rex, James Mitchell, Parker Hesse

I absolutely hated to make this call, but James Mitchell had to go. At the end of the day the Lions have to make blocking a priority and Sean McKeon brings better blocking than Mitchell does and Shane Zylstra has shown to be a more productive pass catcher. Mitchell would be a guy to keep on the practice squad for sure.  

Offensive line (9)

Starters: Taylor Decker, Graham Glasgow, Frank Ragnow, Kevin Zeitler, Penei Sewell
Backups: Kinglsey Eguakun, Colby Sorsdal, Giovanni Manu, Christian Mahogany

Out: Dan Skipper, Connor Galvin, Michael Niese, Netane Muti, Matt Farniok, Duke Clemmens, Bryan Hudson, Kayode Awosika

I’ve made one change here. Last time I had Kayode Awosika making the roster, this time I’m going with Kinglsey Eguakun. There’s a chance this guy can be a starting center in the NFL someday. Awosika making the practice squad is a must though. 

Defensive line (10)

Starters: Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeil, DJ Reader, Marcus Davenport
Backups: Mehki Wingo, John Cominsky, Brodric Martin, Mathieu Betts, Josh Paschal, James Houston

Out: Levi Ownwuzurkie, Isaac Ukwu, Nate Lynn, Chris Smith, Kyle Peko, 

Nothing changing here. The Lions line seems pretty well fleshed out at this point. Kyle Peko is a name to watch during camp. He might be able to find his way to the initial roster if Brodric Martin is still not ready to go, but he should be.

Linebacker (5)

Starters: Alex Anzalone, Jack Campbell, Derrick Barnes
Backups: Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Malcolm Rodriguez, 

Out: Mitchel Agude, DaRon Gilbert, Steele Chambers 

Solid depth here. Steele Chambers has a shot to make the roster, but at the end of the day, I had to go with the five guys we know are going to make an impact all year long. 

Cornerback (6)

Starters: Carlton Davis, Terrion Arnold, Ennis Rakestraw
Backups: Amik Robertson, Steven Gilmore, Emmanuel Moseley

Out: Kindle Vildor, Khalil Dorsey, Craig James, Morice Norris, 

It’s going to be fun to see what this group looks like when it’s all said and done. The Lions have been working Rakestraw at slot corner so that likely means that Brian Branch is moving back to safety. Morice Norris is a guy that I’ll have my eyes on at OTA’s and camp. The versatility he brings is nice.

Safety (5)

Starters: Brian Branch, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Kerby Joseph
Backups: Loren Strickland, C.J. Moore

Out: Chelan Garnes, Brandon Joseph

Brian Branch is back at safety again and will probably take one of the starting spots. C.J. Moore is back as well and should get his roster spot back once things get going. Loren Strickland is another UDFA that has a real shot to make the 53-man roster because he plays with the type of violence that Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes love. 

Special teams (3)

Starters: Michael Badgley, Jack Fox, Scott Daly

Out: Jake Turner, Hogan Hatten

Nothing changing here. The Lions are sticking with the same group the went into the season with last year. That is unless Michigan Panthers Jake Bates comes over. 

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