2020 Lions Off-Ball Linebacker Depth Chart
The Lions head into 2020 with a couple of new additions to their off-ball linebacker group.
Even though the JACK backer is technically a linebacker, it is considered more of an EDGE defender and will not appear on this list.
In saying that, Detroit head coach Matt Patricia will likely have more than a few of his stack linebackers standing up on the line of scrimmage.
It sure seems like the Lions want to be more versatile to give different and unpredictable looks.
Jamie Collins, Jahlani Tavai and Christian Jones all have experience lining up on the edge.
Of those three, Christian Jones is the only one who could potentially be on the chopping block -- albeit unlikely.
Jones was given a rare midseason extension in 2019, and has a pretty low price tag. He isn’t anything special, but can play every linebacker position on the team.
Collins isn’t going anywhere after signing a big contract in free agency this offseason, and Tavai was a second-round pick just a season ago.
There is a chance with a year under his belt that Tavai sees his role increased and in non-middle linebacker alignments.
Speaking of MIKE linebackers, Jarrad Davis -- despite not living up to his first-round grade -- is likely the starter in the middle, but will be on a short lease.
Veteran Reggie Ragland is another middle-only type who is more of a two-down player.
Given his price tag, the Lions don’t have a ton invested in Ragland, yet he still could steal snaps from Davis if the struggles continue.
And even though Davis has played plenty in pass coverage over the years, he hasn’t done particularly well.
It’s possible Collins will supplant him as the main coverage backer.
Now, this is where the depth chart gets dicey.
The Lions only kept four or sometimes five off-ball linebackers on the roster for the majority of 2019 -- not including hybrid LB Miles Killebrew.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin and free-agent acquisition Elijah Lee are not great scheme fits for the big-bodied defense. Their respective value comes on special teams.
Looking at all the other positions outside of linebacker, the Lions have no shortage of special team standouts.
It is possible that the off-ball linebackers play more on the edge, which would create a need to carry more players at the position.
When it comes to the sole special teamsers, the Lions have to also take into account players from other position groups.
Jason Cabinda, Anthony Pittman and Christian Sam all have spent time on the Lions' practice squad, with Pittman and Cabinda enjoying some time on the 53-man roster at the end of 2019 due to injuries.
At this junction, all three players are currently on the outside looking in for a roster spot. They will really have to impress in the preseason in order to crack the final roster.
Lions' off-ball linebacker depth chart:
1.) Jamie Collins Sr.
2.) Jarrad Davis
3.) Jahlani Tavai
4.) Christian Jones
5.) Reggie Ragland
6.) Jalen Reeves-Maybin
7.) Elijah Lee
8.) Jason Cabinda
9.) Anthony Pittman
10.) Christian Sam