In his first season as a general manager, Brad Holmes was due to face scrutiny for his strategy in assembling the Lions' 53-man roster.
Holmes made several eyebrow-raising cuts, including releasing offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby and defensive back Mike Ford.
Additionally, Detroit was forced to claim a kicker in Austin Seibert off waivers, after cutting both options at the position who competed throughout training camp.
Looking back, though, the former Los Angeles Rams executive said the process of assembling the roster was easier than he originally thought.
“When Dan (Campbell) and I made those decisions on the roster, and who was gonna make this football team, it was actually easier than what at least I initially thought it was, going into it,” Holmes said.
At the end of the day, Holmes and his staff put together a roster of players that he and Campbell love.
Some players on the roster required the new Lions leadership to make moves, via both waivers and the trade market.
“Dan and I have said from day one that we’re gonna add, or we’ll have players that we love,” Holmes said. “We’ll have players that we’re excited about. That we see the vision for. That we see fit. And when we say we see fit, it’s not just schematic-and-scheme-based. It’s we want to make sure we have guys who are gritty, high-passionate football players that respect the game and play the game the right way.”
Who the hell is WR Trinity Benson?
Among the new faces is wide receiver Trinity Benson, who was acquired in a trade with the Denver Broncos, in exchange for two late-round picks. Formerly an undrafted free agent out of East Central, a Division II school in Oklahoma, Benson caught eight passes in the preseason for 80 yards and a touchdown.
When Holmes was initially approached by members of his scouting staff about trading for Benson, his reaction was candid and expected, given the unknown nature of the prospect.
“Who the hell is Trinity Benson?", Holmes remembers asking.
The Division II product has explosive potential, and many fans and pundits alike were impressed by his performance during preseason play. It was Rob Lohman, Detroit’s director of pro scouting, who reached out to Holmes about making the move.
“When I first watched the tape, I was like ‘Wow,’” Holmes said. “He just popped off. He had juice, he had explosiveness. His upside as a route runner gets you really excited for a young guy. And then the more work you do from an intangibles side, he’s a tough kid that’s smart. He’s a hard worker, does things the right way.”
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Benson is one of two newcomers to the Lions’ wide receivers room -- the other is KhaDarel Hodge, who was claimed by Holmes & Co. off waivers.
Hodge was an undrafted free agent out of Prairie View A&M. He was waived by Cleveland at the conclusion of training camp.
Confidence in wide receivers
Although many pundits are not optimistic about the talent Detroit has at wide receiver, Holmes isn’t buying into that narrative.
The Lions’ new GM pledged to build a roster of players he loves, and appears to have done so, even if the wide receivers room is devoid of proven talent. Outside of Tyrell Williams, many of Detroit's wideouts will be experiencing their first taste of significant action.
Despite this, Holmes remains optimistic about the skill at the position.
“I get what the outside narrative is,” Holmes said. “That’s not what Dan and I see on a regular basis in practice and when we evaluate the guys.”
In addition to having confidence at the position, he said that new Lions quarterback Jared Goff will be graded, based on how he performs and develops chemistry with his new wideouts.
“I do think that you can fairly evaluate him, because he’s throwing to some guys that are getting open, that are creating separation, that have explosiveness and are making tough plays, tough catches and are being where they’re supposed to be," Holmes said. "Jared is a very accurate quarterback, and you have receivers that are getting open. And, at the end of the day, that’s what the receiver’s job is: to get open. I think it’s been easy to evaluate Jared so far."
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