53-man roster, depth chart and practice squad predictions for the Detroit Lions ahead of training camp

Yardbarker

The Detroit Lions will be heading to training camp in less than two weeks. The 2024 season is just about upon us. Before we head into camp and find out what the actual roster is going to look like at the end of August, we’re going to make our pre-camp prediction on the roster, depth chart and the practice squad. Here’s what we got: 

Quarterback (2)

Starter: Jared Goff
Backup: Hendon Hooker

Out: Nate Sudfeld

No surprises here. Goff and Hooker will be the Lions two quarterbacks with Nate Sudfeld sticking with the team to be their practice squad guy. 

Running Back (4)

Starters: Jahmyr Gibbs, David Montgomery
Backups: Sione Vaki, Zonovan Knight

Out: Craig Reynolds, Jermar Jefferson, Jake Funk

Vaki is going to be a fun addition to an already really fun backfield. I’ve gone back and forth on Craig Reynolds and Zonovan Knight as the fourth guy. It’s hard to rule out Knight. He just has so much potential. 

Wide receiver (6)

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

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

Still not convinced that this is ultimately what the Lions bring into the season. There’s still a chance they bring in more receiver help in next couple weeks or at camp. For now we’re going with this group. There’s just so many questions that need to be answered here this summer.

Tight ends (3)

Starter: Sam LaPorta
Backups: Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra 

Out: Isaac Rex, James Mitchell, Parker Hesse

I once again hated to make the call of letting James Mitchell go. At the end of the day the Lions have to make blocking and special teams a priority when you get to the lower depth. Shane Zylstra has shown that he can be better than Mitchell there and he’s been a pretty good pass catcher too.  

Offensive line (9)

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

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

Fans aren’t going to like it, but Dan Skipper is just one tackle too many at this point. The Lions are likely to redshirt Manu this season and Sorsdal is back at tackle now. The team is likely to want to see where things go with him instead of taking a chance of losing him on the waiver wire. 

Defensive line (10)

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

Out: John Cominsky, Isaac Ukwu, Nate Lynn, Chris Smith, Kyle Peko

This was a hard call. I had Onwuzurkie out in the previous installments, but he had a really good OTAs and minicamp. With the Lions moving both him and rookie Mehki Wingo to the outside a little, that made it slightly easier to cut John Cominsky. Even if I really didn’t want to do it.

Linebacker (5)

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

Out: Mitchel Agude, DaRon Gilbert, Ben Niemann

Solid depth here. Ben Niemann has a shot to make the roster and Mitchell Agude does too, 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, Khalil Dorsey

Out: Emmanuel Moseley, Kindle Vildor, Craig James, Morice Norris,

Dorsey had a really good minicamp that saw him pick off multiple passes and get a couple pick sixes as well. That performance was good enough for him to make the roster. He did have an injury on day two of minicamp, but it was minor per Dan Campbell.

Safety (5)

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

Out: Chelan Garnes, Loren Strickland

Brian Branch is back at safety again and will take one of the starting spots. C.J. Moore is back as well and should get his roster spot back once things get going. Brandon Joseph showed out and played with the ones due to guys being out with injuries during minicamp. He’s earning that spot this year.

Special teams (3)

Starters: Jake Bates, Jack Fox, Scott Daly

Out: Michael Badgley, Hogan Hatten

Everyone wanted Jake Bates here and now he is. He should be able to beat out Badgley, but this is not a given at this time. He’s going to have to earn it at camp. 

17-Man Practice squad

  • S Loren Strickland: The violent nature in which he makes hits is what is going to help him get onto the practice squad. Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn love violence.
  • C Kinglsely Eguakun: Potentially a guy that could be the future center for this team. The Lions are going to make sure they hold onto him.
  • T Dan Skipper: Just because Skipper didn’t make the team, that doesn’t meant the Lions won’t look to keep him and then elevate him when needed.
  • WR Daurice Fountain: This guy has been making some plays during OTAs and minicamp. You see him flying through the air quite a bit in the highlight videos. He can go up and get it. But Kaden Davis has been making more plays.
  • WR Tom Kennedy: He’s just a part of this team. There’s no getting around it. Tom Kennedy works here.
  • CB Kindle Vildor: There’s a finite amount of spots on the roster right now, Vildor would maybe get one if there were more room, but there’s not. Still, he’s a guy worth having around.
  • CB Morice Norris: A guy that has a lot of versatility. He can play inside and outside and even safety. That’s worth hanging onto.
  • RB Jermar Jefferson: If the Lions do indeed move on from Craig Raynolds, he probably will get claimed by another team. The same goes for Zonovan Knight. That could open a spot for Jefferson to stick around. 
  • QB Nate Sudfeld: It’s good to have a solid football mind on the roster to help with Hendon Hooker’s development.
  • LB Mitchell Agude: He’s another guy that’s flying under the radar and has an outside chance to make the roster as a pass rusher.
  • LB Ben Niemann: Solid special teams help, but he’s just in such a crowded room right now. Still, he’s worth keeping in case an injury pops up. He can get his chance to show out then.
  • WR Isaiah Williams: He’s been really showing what he can do out there. Especially in the YAC game. The Lions are going to want to hold on to him. They might want to protect him in some way too. He’s the type of guy that could get poached.
  • K Michael Badgley: We’ve got Turner making the roster over Badgley, but the Lions will still look to keep Badgley around.
  • LS: Hogan Hatten: It’s Scott Daly’s job to lose, but with him suffering an injury last year, the Lions were probably glad they kept Jake McQuaide on the practice squad. They’ll keep a long snapper again this year.
  • OL Connor Galvin: He played so well during the preseason last year. I’m willing to bet he has another good showing this year. It’s a crowded room to get into on the 53-man roster, but he’ll have spot here and could see some elevations.
  • TE Parker Hesse: He’s been a tight end for his entire NFL career, but we’re still waiting for a team to try him out at defensive end where he played pretty well for Iowa. The Lions should take a year to see if they can pull it off. 
  • S Ayo Oyelola: Here’s your international pathways player. The Lions did give him a tryout during rookie minicamp but did not sign him. He could get his shot at camp since the team gets an exemption for IPP guys during camp and they don’t count against the 90-man roster. Oyelola has multiple years of experience with new Lions’ defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend. 

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