Pre-NFL Draft Lions Depth Chart

Read more on the Detroit Lions' depth chart, leading into the 2021 NFL Draft

Next week, the Detroit Lions and the rest of the NFL will be selecting the future of their teams via the NFL Draft. 

For most organizations, it’s a time to fill some remaining holes on their roster. 

In regard to the Lions and general manager Brad Holmes, they are in a little bit different of a position. There are really only a couple of positions that likely couldn’t be upgraded. The Lions could go so many different ways, depending on the value remaining on the board. 

Before going into the draft, let’s look at the Lions' depth chart and get a feel for where the team stands after undergoing massive roster turnover this offseason. 


Starter: Jared Goff 

Backups: Tim Boyle, David Blough 

Breakdown: It's pretty obvious who the starter will be at the start of the year. Even if the Lions were to draft a quarterback for the future, the Lions are invested in Goff. The real battle will be for the backup spot. 

Running back 

Starter: D’Andre Swift 

Backups: Jamaal Williams, Kerryon Johnson 

Breakdown: Swift is set up to be the primary back, but the other two will still see plenty of snaps. Given there are only three rostered running backs, the Lions could go after one in the draft. Maybe not in the early rounds, but in the later rounds or via the undrafted free-agent route. 


Starter: Jason Cabinda 

Backup: Nick Bawden 

Breakdown: The Lions have two fullbacks on the roster for now. It will be interesting to see who the Lions decide to keep and how frequently they will even use one in their new scheme. 

Wide receiver 

Starters: Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Quintez Cephus 

Backups: Kalif Raymond, Geronimo Allison, Damion Ratley, Tom Kennedy, Victor Bolden 

Breakdown: This is a pretty weak group overall. It would be no surprise if the Lions look to select a future No. 1 wideout in this talented draft pool. They could even double-dip, if the value is right. 

Tight end  

Starter: T.J. Hockenson 

Backups: Josh Hill, Hunter Bryant, Alize Mack, Hunter Thedford 

Breakdown: With the Pro Bowler Hockenson at the helm, the Lions have top-end talent at this position. Bryant is a nice developmental piece, as well. Hill is on a one-year contract, but is a solid all-around reserve. The draft isn’t very deep at tight end, and it would be a luxury for the Lions to take one this year. 

Offensive tackle 

Starters: Taylor Decker, Tyrell Crosby 

Backups: Matt Nelson, Dan Skipper 

Breakdown: After 2021, the Lions will likely need a starting right tackle. Crosby is more of a solid swing tackle and can start, but that doesn’t mean the position can’t be upgraded. 


Starters: Jonah Jackson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai 

Backup: Logan Stenberg 

Breakdown: Vaitai is being paid big money to apparently play guard. He is relatively cheap to cut in 2022, and that's very much a possibility. Jackson was dependable last season, and looks good for the future. However, I wouldn’t rule out the Lions looking to add an interior lineman to replace Vaitai down the line. 


Starter: Frank Ragnow 

Backup: Evan Brown 

Breakdown: Not much to talk about here. 


Starters: Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara 

Backups: Julian Okwara, Charles Harris, Austin Bryant, Robert McCray 

Breakdown: Flowers very well could move inside in plenty of situations, leaving another EDGE player to see more time. The group is pretty solid, but there isn’t an elite pass-rusher among them. It never hurts to add pass-rush help in the draft. 

Interior defensive line 

Starters: Michael Brockers, Da’Shawn Hand 

Backups: John Penisini, Nick Williams, Jashon Cornell, Kevin Strong, John Atkins, Joel Heath 

Breakdown: There will be plenty of rotating with the interior defensive line. Brockers will probably be on the field the most, though. Behind him, I penciled in Hand, because of his superior athletic ability. That doesn’t mean Penisini won’t see quite a bit of reps at nose tackle, with Williams mixing in along the line, as well. 

There will be times in the Lions defense’s 3-4 looks, in which more than two defensive tackles will be on the field. The Lions need gap shooters and guys who can get to the quarterback consistently -- something they don’t currently have on the roster.


Starters: Jamie Collins, Alex Anzalone 

Backups: Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Jahlani Tavai, Anthony Pittman 

Breakdown: If the Lions' defense is anything like the Los Angeles Rams' front-seven philosophy, there will only be one or two linebackers on the field in most cases. Collins is the MIKE, and Anzalone is the WILL. It’s no coincidence that those two are arguably the most athletic of the bunch, as well. The Lions could use a young, athletic playmaker at the position. 


Starters: Amani Oruwariye, Jeff Okudah, Corn Elder 

Backups: Quinton Dunbar, Mike Ford 

Breakdown: With Elder looking to be the natural nickel corner, that leaves a battle between three outside corners. As of now, Dunbar is on the outside-looking-in, when it comes to breaking the starting lineup. If Dunbar is able to find his 2019 form, he will supplant either Oruwariye or Okudah, depending on who is playing worse. 

This is one position that the Lions have a couple of nice developmental pieces at, and Holmes may give them time before drafting another cover man. However, you can never have enough talent at cornerback. Also, the Lions will need to add a few more corners before going into training camp. 


Starters: Tracy Walker, Dean Marlowe 

Backups: Will Harris, C.J. Moore, Bobby Price, Jalen Elliott, Godwin Igwebuike 

Breakdown: Quantity, but not quality. Walker once looked like a very promising up-and-comer. There is still hope for him. Meanwhile, Harris has the athletic ability, but has really struggled in his first two years. Marlowe has been a special teamer for the majority of his career. However, he may be a starter by default, based on the current makeup of the roster. 

It would make a lot of sense for the Lions to draft another safety this year. Luckily, Holmes has shown a penchant for finding talent at the position in the mid-to-late rounds.

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