Sixth-round pick Travis Fulgham might have a leg up on the field when it comes to the final roster spots at receiver.
The Detroit Lions open training camp July 25 at the team’s facility in Allen Park, Michigan. Here’s a 53-man roster projection.
Stafford is a lock. The question is whether David Fales can overtake Savage in training camp. Savage showed a strong arm in camp and was clearly better than Connor Cook, who was released in favor of Fales in June. As of now, Savage has the No. 2 spot, but it’s more open than one would think.
I don’t feel great about this projection right now because Ty Johnson looked good during spring workouts and Bob Quinn isn’t big on cutting his draft picks as rookies. If the Lions decide to look elsewhere at fullback — Joe Dahl again, perhaps — then Johnson might have a home on the roster.
There is more talent here than you might think, and those last two spots beyond Golladay, Jones and Amendola are wide open. Kearse has familiarity with Darrell Bevell’s offense — which gives him a brief nod going into camp — but he’s going to have to play well to hold off Andy Jones, who is a good special-teams player, as well as Chris Lacy, Tommylee Lewis and Brandon Powell. Fulgham started to show flashes at the end of the spring and his status as a draft pick might give him an edge. But the depth receiver spots are going to be among the team’s toughest battles, with every receiver listed having some traits that could be useful, from Lewis’ return skills to Powell’s slot value to Lacy’s size/speed combination. Don’t be surprised if a couple of these players end up on the practice squad.
Hockenson and James are pretty locked in. The question is if Detroit goes three or four deep at the position. Thomas and Nauta both have intriguing characteristics — Nauta has good hands and Thomas has a lot of uses, including on special teams and, in a pinch, as an emergency quarterback. For now I’ll stick with four tight ends, giving both a roster home.
The starting five seem pretty locked in, as do Crosby and Dahl due to Crosby’s status as the tackle of the future and Dahl’s versatility. The last two roster spots in this composition go to two interior players, but so much of that can change. Desire for a fourth tackle could push Ryan Pope onto the roster. Luke Bowanko also has some experience that could give him an edge once he gets comfortable in the offense.
The players to watch here are the two rookies. As a seventh-round pick, Johnson will be a player who is pushed. Bryant has been with the rehab group a lot of the offseason, so his status could be one to watch as well. John Atkins and Lee are players who have experience in the defense and flashed potential here and there throughout the spring. It also appeared that Lee could have some position versatility, which gives him the edge for a final roster spot over the others.
The top four seem pretty set in stone, with Tavai getting some first-team reps this spring. Reeves-Maybin received a lot of run — if that continues into training camp, it’s a good sign for him. Before his ACL injury last preseason, Longa was one of Detroit’s top special teams players. As long as he returns healthy, he would likely fit in that role again.
This is a really, really difficult decision at safety, which is a good problem to have. I have the Lions going heavy here because of the needs at the position — the Lions will play in nickel packages a bunch — and some of the other roles players have, like Agnew at punt returner and Washington as the team’s top special-teams gunner. It’s a pretty wide-open race in some spots, though, particularly opposite Slay at outside corner and at what could be the No. 4 safety spot. Corner should be a concern, because other than Slay there are no true proven options that can approach being a No. 1 cornerback at this point.
Prater and Muhlbach have no competition on the roster. Martin looks like he’s returned to form after some struggles the past two seasons.