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Lions' 2022 Projected 53-Man Roster Post Minicamp

SI All Lions projects the Detroit Lions' 53-man roster headed into training camp.

The Detroit Lions have plenty of decisions to make heading into the 2022 season regarding their roster.

Detroit general manager Brad Holmes currently has 89 players on his roster. By the end of the preseason, that number will be dwindled down to 53.

Here’s a best-guess as to what the 53-man roster will look like, as the Lions break minicamp and prepare for training camp.

Quarterback (2)

  • Jared Goff
  • Tim Boyle

With so many other players fighting for roster spots, and the overall volume of talent available, it will be tough for the Lions to justify keeping three quarterbacks. In this case, Boyle holds the upper hand over David Blough, because of the financial commitment the Lions have made to him.

Blough should make the backup competition interesting, as both he and Boyle have experience starting games in the pros. However, if it boils down to keeping just one QB behind Goff, then my money is with Boyle remaining on the roster.

Running back (4)

  • D’Andre Swift
  • Jamaal Williams
  • Jason Cabinda (FB)
  • Godwin Igwebuike

Though Swift and Williams are locked in as the top two options out of the backfield, the running back position still offers plenty of intrigue. Detroit needs to separate its options at the third running back spot, as Igwebuike, Jermar Jefferson and Craig Reynolds all have a chance to crack the roster.

In this case, Igwebuike gets the edge, because of his special teams value. He handled kick return duties at times during last season, while also being a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Wide receiver (6)

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown
  • DJ Chark
  • Josh Reynolds
  • Quintez Cephus
  • Kalif Raymond
  • Trinity Benson
  • Jameson Williams (PUP)

When healthy, Williams will take the sixth spot from one of the players listed above him. However, Lions head coach Dan Campbell has said it is unlikely that he’ll be ready to go for training camp.

With Williams on the PUP list, the roster spot goes to Benson. Campbell has praised the former Denver Broncos wideout throughout the offseason.

St. Brown, Chark and Reynolds give the Lions a solid starting three, with Cephus bringing size and Raymond having speed off the bench. The outlook of this unit is much improved from a year ago.

Tight end (3)

  • T.J. Hockenson
  • James Mitchell
  • Garrett Griffin

Hockenson is locked in as the starter. Mitchell is coming off an ACL injury, but could be ready to go sooner than later because of how far along he is in his recovery. 

Much like the running back position, there are several deserving names battling for the third spot.

Griffin worked with Campbell while the two were in New Orleans, with Campbell serving as his position coach. Griffin is more of a blocker than a pass-catcher, which will go a long way with two pass-catchers next to him.

Griffin beats out the young duo of Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra, along with former Michigan Wolverines receiver Devin Funchess, who hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2019.

Offensive line (8)

  • Frank Ragnow (C)
  • Jonah Jackson (G)
  • Halapoulivaati Vaitai (G)
  • Taylor Decker (T)
  • Penei Sewell (T)
  • Matt Nelson (T)
  • Evan Brown (C/G)
  • Kevin Jarvis (G)

The five starters are set in stone for Week 1, assuming all remain healthy. 

Last season, the unit was without Decker for the first half of the season. Ragnow, meanwhile, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 4, meaning that all five were never on the field together at the same time. 

This could be one of the league’s top offensive line units. There’s young potential in Sewell, mixed in with veteran talent like Ragnow and Decker. With skilled backs behind them, this group could do damage.

Nelson was an important depth piece last season as the swing tackle, while Brown played a vital role replacing Ragnow. 

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Jarvis, meanwhile, is an undrafted free agent who was solid at Michigan State, but must beat out 2020 draftee Logan Stenberg and 2021 undrafted free-agent signee Tommy Kraemer.

Defensive line (5)

  • Michael Brockers
  • Levi Onwuzurike
  • Alim McNeill
  • Josh Paschal
  • John Cominsky

Transitioning to a four-down scheme, the Lions need to stock up at this position. Some combination of Brockers, Onwuzurike and McNeill will likely make up the starting unit on the inside of the front line.

Paschal recently signed his rookie deal, and Cominsky was recently acquired via waivers. Cominsky is an interesting player, as he was a hot commodity on the waiver wire. The Lions were able to get him, because they were first on the wire.

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EDGE (5)

  • Aidan Hutchinson
  • Charles Harris
  • Julian Okwara
  • Jarrad Davis
  • James Houston
  • Romeo Okwara (PUP)

Hutchinson will have all eyes on him as he begins his rookie season with the Lions. As Romeo Okwara likely begins the season on the PUP list, Charles Harris will likely line up opposite Hutchinson.

Julian Okwara had a solid season last year, and Jarrad Davis is back for a second go-around with the organization. Houston is an intriguing player, as he had a dominant season at Jackson State and could wind up being a late-round steal.

Linebacker (5)

  • Alex Anzalone
  • Derrick Barnes
  • Chris Board
  • Malcolm Rodriguez
  • Shaun Dion Hamilton

The Lions have unproven depth at this position. There’s plenty of bodies, but there’s not much in terms of proven talent. Because of this, the dichotomy at this position is interesting.

Hamilton missed all of the 2021 season with an injury, but before that, he was seen as a contender to make the roster. Meanwhile, Detroit has two youngsters battling for playing time in Barnes and Rodriguez.

Cornerback (7)

  • Amani Oruwariye
  • Will Harris
  • Jeff Okudah
  • Jerry Jacobs
  • Mike Hughes
  • A.J. Parker
  • Chase Lucas

This group is similar in both stature and experience to the linebackers. There’s plenty to pick from, but little in the way of established expertise. Amani Oruwariye had a breakout year, but little is known about who will be opposite him.

Right now, I have both Parker and Lucas making the team. There is an open roster spot, and should the Lions elect to grab another corner, then things could get interesting. Still plenty of questions to be answered at this position.

Safety (5)

  • Tracy Walker III
  • DeShon Elliott
  • Kerby Joseph
  • Ifeatu Melifonwu
  • C.J. Moore

In Walker, the Lions have an established leader on the defensive side. He re-upped to stay in Detroit, and will be looked to as a leader. Elliott has been good in his career when healthy, so the Lions are banking on a smooth season from him.

I have Moore as one of my last players in, getting the nod over Brady Breeze and JuJu Hughes. Being the fifth safety, special teams ability will go a long way towards this decision, and I believe Moore is the player seen as the best special teamer out of this group.

Specialists (3)

  • Scott Daly (LS)
  • Riley Patterson (K)
  • Jack Fox (P)

The only intrigue when it comes to this group is with the kickers. 

Right now, Patterson and Austin Seibert are competing for the top spot. Patterson holds the edge, as he finished last season 13-of-14 on field goals and perfect on extra points.

A strong camp from Seibert could make this interesting. Right now, it could go either way.