Predicting The Detroit Lions 53-Man Roster: Offensive Edition


It’s just about that time, folks, when each and every team make tough decisions, cuttings talented players in anticipation of roster sizes trimming to 53. The Lions have already begun trimming their roster, in anticipation of today’s 4 p.m. deadline to get from 90 player to 75.

The Lions will need to make three more cuts today, then an additional twelve before August 31.

We Delve into every offensive unit, predicting where each player will land on the depth chart and who stays on the roster all-together.



2012 Position Overview:

Matthew Stafford’s injury history is well documented, missing thirteen games in his first two seasons. However, a 2011 season which saw him become just the third quarterback to pass for over 5,000 yards in a single season, Stafford has yet to miss a game in two seasons.Shaun Hill remained the teams backup quarterback and they signed Kellen Moore, of Boise State University, as an undrafted free agent to be the teams third option. He appeared in the preseason but was a healthy scratch throughout the regular season.

 1. Matthew Stafford:

Stafford is the unquestioned face of the franchise, deserving or not. It was never more blatantly obvious then the Lions extending his contract this offseason. While Calvin Johnson set multiple NFL records last season, the quarterback remains the vocal point to any teams success. During the Lions eight game losing streak to close out the 2012 season, Stafford compiled a mediocre twelve touchdowns, ten interceptions,  2,574 passing yards and a 76.8 passer rating. Although he’s passed for over 10,000 yards the past two seasons, he has to regain his 2011 magicin order to lead the Lions back to the playoffs.

2. Shaun Hill:

Hill remains one of the leagues top backup’s, a mainstay, who does the little things right for a physically limited quarterback. He’s appeared in just three games the past season, but he appeared in eleven games in 2011, staring ten of them. The Lions our in good hands with Hill holding the clipboard.

3. Kellen Moore:

Moore, quite frankly, hasn’t looked like an NFL-worthy quarterback, despite his imploded preseason stats. However, I don’t see the Lions taking just two quarterbacks into the season, despite my outcry for it to happen.

2013 Position Preview:

Shaun Hill, aforementioned, is one of the leagues top backup quarterbacks. Compiling that with Stafford’s renewed health, the Lions may choose to save a roster spot and maximize the roster in doing so. Regardless, Stafford needs a rebound season, plain and simple. So far this preseason, he has not been impressive. His read progression is awful, and many times checks the ball down to Reggie Bush immediately after his first read. Johnson will help, but will it be enough?


Running Back

2012 Position Overview:

The Lions carried just four running backs last season — Mikel Leshore, Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams and Stefan Logan — but returned just one to this seasons roster. Joique Bell was a pleasant surprise for a underachieving unit, carrying a measly 100.8 yards per game (ranking 23 in NFL), and finishing 18 in the NFL with 4.1 yards per carry, as the lack of explosive plays were apparent.

1. Joique Bell:

Some may laugh, even snarl at the thought of Reggie Bush not being the Lions “featured” back to start the season. But it’s exactly what should happen. Bush is the Detroit’s home run threat, a player who will undoubtedly take pressure off Calvin Johnson. Bell has had a very good preseason, and will likely split time with Bush throughout the season

2: Reggie Bush:

Bush has came into Detroit and taken it by storm, touching the ball an absurd 27 times in his 67 snaps (40%) through the first three preseason games. But that’s were his value lies. A change of pace back, who handles a light carrying load. Bell will compliment him well.

3. Mikel Leshoure:

Leshoure hasn’t had the preseason he likely would have wanted, but the third year pro will certainly find touches throughout the season. He had 798 yards on 215 carries with nine touchdowns last season.

4. Montell Owens:

Late in the second quarter of the Lions vs. Patriots game, Owens received a handoff and immediatly fell to the grown after attempting to make a cut. According to Jim Schwartz, the injury will not be long term — although there’s no timetable for his return. If he’s unable to go week one, look for Theo Riddick to occupy this spot on the opening day roster.

2013 Position Preview:

Bush has proved to be a great fit in the Lions offense, combining his catching ability with his home-run ability at any spot on the field. Bell and Leshoure will be terrific compliments to him, as the Lions look to revamp a less-than-stellar running game from a year ago.


Wide Receiver

2012 Position Overview:

The Lions chose to carry five receivers last season – Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, Kassim Osgood — and looked to have a very strong unit. However, by seasons end, Young self-imploded, Burleson and Broyles had season-ending injuries and the Lions were forced to complete the season with a makeshift unit.

1. Calvin Johnson:

This one’s easy, as it belongs to the best receiver in the game. Last season Johnson set multiple league records, including Jerry Rice’s single season receiving yards record (1,964 yards in 2012). The offense’s ability to press the field is noticeably stagnant without him in the lineup during the preseason. Look for Bush to help ease the coverage Johnson will face this season.

2. Ryan Broyles:

Broyles has a chance to shine this season, after an ACL injury shortened his rookie season. With the presence of Johnson and Bush occupying most of the defenses attention, Broyles will see a lot of favorable matchups throughout the season.

3. Nate Burleson:

The hope around the Lions fanbase, is this season Broyles finally outplays him for the Y position. Burleson remains a great presence in the locker room and in front of camera’s, as a promotes his new “LionBlood” propoganda.

4. Matt Willis:

Despite popular belief, Willis has produced a very solid preseason for the Lions. He runs good routes, has solid hands and knows his role within the team. He will have a tough time fending off Patrick Edwards for the fourth spot, but experience should give him the nod early.

5. Patrick Edwards:

Edwards has mildly disappointed this preseason, being unable to pull it all together on the field. He has the talent, which will earn him a roster spot on the team.

2013 Position Preview:

Don’t be surprised if the Lions add to this unit before the season begins, as rumors from Jason La Canfora spread about the Lions looking for a starting caliber receiver. Regardless, the Lions have the best receiver in the game, and Reggie Bush will be used in the slot many times as well.


Tight End

2012 Position Overview:

The Lions entered the season with three tight ends — Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, Will Heller — a group that underwhelmed. Pettigrew regressed, Scheffler was absent at times and Heller, with his limitations, never helped the unit in the passing department.

1. Brandon Pettigrew:

Pettigrew will open the season as the Lions top tight end, but he could be in for another disappointing season in Detroit. Last season, Pettigrew was Stafford’s favorite check-down target, but Reggie Bush has taken that title from him. He’s entering the final year of his contract, the pressure will be on him to perform this season.

2. Tony Scheffler:

Scheffler brings another versatile piece to the Lions offense, playing largely in the slot in double tight end formations. He’s had an up-and-down preseason, but looks to have a roster spot locked up.

3. Joseph Fauria:

The third tight end spot was sure to be a competitive camp battle, and it hasn’t disappointed. Fauria was making his case for a roster spot before Michael Williams went down with a hand injury. He should be on the roster come September.

*Michael Williams: Starts on PUP/Injured Reserve

2013 Position Preview:

The Lions will return their top two tight ends, and have used two tight end formations at a greater consistency this preseason — with Scheffler split out. The Lions will look for greater consistency from this unit this season.


Offensive Tackles:

2012 Position Overview:

Last season at this time, the Lions kept the entire offensive line intact from a 2011 playoff appearance. Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus were great in pass protection and the addition of Reilly Reiff helped the unit.

Left Tackle:

1. Riley Reiff:

The Lions put the ultimate trust in last season first round pick, not pursuing a tackle in the draft or free agency. So far this preseason, he sports a -1.5 run block rating and four quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus (Subscription Required). This will be something to monitor as we enter the 2013 season.

2. Free Agent/Waiver Wire: 

The Lions carried five offensive tackles last season, a year in which both tackle spots were locked up well before camp started. With the uncertainty of Fox’s health and Reiff’s inexperience. they will likely look to add a veteran presance to the second unit.

3. LaAdrian Waddle:

The surprise of camp, Waddle has been a pleasant surprise for the Lions. The undrafted rookie out of Texas Tech University, sports the 11th best pass block rating of all offensive tackles during the preseason, according to Pro Football Focus (Subscription Required).

Right Tackle:

Jason Fox:

Fox has been stellar throughout the preseason, giving up just one pressure in 61 snaps this preseason. The doubt and uncertainty that came with Gosder Cherilus’ departure has passed, and he seems to have taken the lead in the right tackle battle.

Corey Hilliard:

In light of his first chance to be a full-time starter in the NFL, Hilliard has looked less than impressive so far. A backup spot between Fox and Reiff look in store for him this season.

2013 Position Preview:

It’s a very inexperienced unit, with Jason Fox and Riley Reiff likely manning the tackle positions. Fox has had injury concerns in the past, but looks to put those behind him as he’s a starter for the first time in the NFL.


Offensive Guards:

2012 Position Overview:

The interior of the line stayed intact for another season, returning Rob Sims at right guard and Stephen Peterman at left guard. Peterman remained the weak link for the Lions, allowing 46 QB pressures throughout the season compared to Sims’ 26, acording to Pro Football Focus (Subscription Required). However, the Lions maintained the 3rd best interior pass protection in the league, en-route to setting the all-time single season pass attempt record.

Left Guard:

Rob Sims:

Sims has been the Lions top interior offensive lineman since joining the team in 2010, and has become the leader this offseason too. He posted a +13.8 overall grade that ranked him the 11th best offensive guard in the game last season,according to Pro Football Focus(Subscription Required). The Lions will look for much more of that in 2013.

**Rodney Austin:

Do they keep a backup left guard? It’s a question we’ll findout with time, but Austin presents them with versatility to play both guard positions and center, saving a roster spot down the road for the team.

Right Guard:

1. Jake Scott:

This spot could come down to a number of players, ranging from Scott, to Dykan Gandy or Larry Warford. But Scott has been stellar, allowing just one quarterback pressure on 38 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus (Subscription Required). Though it’s Warford’s job to lose, allowing the former third round draft pick to ease his way into the NFL may be their best option.

2. Larry Warford:

Warford is the Lions future at right guard. But he’s looked raw at times, and his base needs work in pass protection. There’s no doubt  they could go with him from week one, but with the veteran presence of Scott or Gandy ahead of him, the Lions may choose to ease him into the NFL.

2013 Position Preview:

The Lions interior looks much improved from a year ago, and Gandy or Austin present viable options at center if Raiola struggles. Look for this group to be among the most improved units for the Lions offense from a year ago.



2012 Position Overview:

The Lions brought two centers to the opening day roster — Dominic Raiola and Dylan Gandy. Raiola had a up and down season, in-which Jim Schwartz and Martin Mayhew voiced their displeasure with his play.

1. Dominic Raiola:

Raiola took a major financial cut to come back for another year with the Lions. The hope was he’d improve off the year he had in 2012, where he gave up 17 QB pressures. Early on this preseason, he’s been better, showing more leadership and consistency in front of Matthew Stafford. We’ll see if it carries over to the regular season.

**Rodney Austin:

The aforementioned Austin presents versatility for the Lions, and with his fifteen snaps at center this preseason, it could come down to Dylan Gandy or Austin to fill both positions.

2013 Position Preview:

Raiola will be the Lions opening day center, but the backup position remains up in the air. The backup will likely come from whoever wins a spot at guard, and Gandy or Austin remain the top options.


* Player may begin the season on the PUP/Injured Reserve

** Player shows up twice on depth chart


Post By Bradley La Brie (14 Posts)

Lead NFC North Contributor, NFL Draft analyst. Bradley is the Owner/Editor of DSR. His work has been featured on S.I., SideLionReport, ProFootballCentral, and DetroitJockCity.