First of all, thanks again to Jreffy for the great write up and pictures from his time at camp. Remember, if you have an idea for a guest blog, just shoot me an email and I will try see if it will work out with the site. As a guideline, please remember to keep all blog entry submissions within the framework of how the typical tone of this site flows.
Now, onto the main event:
I’m sitting here with a copy of the Lions Depth Chart (as of August 4th, 2008 – fresh off the presses) and decided to dust off the crystal ball, and throw my 53 Man roster out there. I’ve got a link to this story on the side panel, so feel free to post your 53 man guess whenever you feel ready. After the final cut-down, I will look at our “30 Lock” and “Marinelli’s Men” (53) to see how we did both as a blogging community, and as individuals.
Please note that I have this in depth chart format, so look at the (#) to see “new” [not previously listed players on the chart] taking up roster spots. Analysis of how/why for each pick is below. [PLEASE NOTE: I will be updating this 53 for injuries only, and will indicate all changes with the original prediction in a different color)
Special Teams (3)
K: Jason Hanson
P: Nick Harris
LS: Don Mulbach
QB (3): Kitna, Orlovsky, Stanton
WR (3): R. Williams, M. Furrey, D. Ellis
WR (2): C. Johnson, S. McDonald, D. Ellis
LT (2): Backus, Scott
LG (2): Mulitalo, Davis
C (2): Raiola, McCullum
RG (2): Peterman, Ramierez
RT (2): Cherilus, Foster
RB (3): Smith, Bell, Calhoun
FB (2): Felton, Mchugh
TE (2): Campbell, Gaines
WLB (2): Sims, Gardner
MLB (2): Lenon, Dizon
SLB (2): Lewis, B.Davis
LCB (2): B. Kelly, Keith Smith
RCB (3): Bodden, Fisher, Edwards
FS (2): Alexander, Pearson
SS (3): Smith, Bullocks, Blue
LDE (2): IAF, DeVries
NT (3): Darby, Cody, Fluellen
UT (2): Redding, Moore
RDE (2): White, Avril
I’ve often looked at the roster before the season, but I am having a lot more trouble than usual this ifseason. I took a break form my initial roster yesterday, and then came back to it today. What made it the hardest, I think, is that no matter which way you cut it, the Lions are going to be releasing some players with enough talent to play in this league. In particular, I think they will be cutting at least three guys (Bellamy, Middleton, Walters) who could realistically make it as 3rd or 4th WR on many NFL teams because they are so deep at the position. As for the rest, I looked in particular at ST contribution when balancing who made the roster at the bottom end, and who I was projecting the opening day starters to be. I must admit, they will probably keep either an additional RB or TE and not keep 10 linemen, but I just couldn’t find one of them I felt real comfortable cutting. If I am wrong about ten linemen (which is likely) then I think the following changes are made:
G: Frank Davis gets cut. Peterman and Ramierez are both very talented, and they will keep pushing each other for the RG spot until Mulitalo’s contract is up, at which point they will likely be the two starting OG for the Lions.
FB: Felton, Bradley
TE: Campbell, Gaines, Fitzsimmons
I essentially flipped a coin for my final roster.
So why did I go the way I did on the roster?
QB: This position was pretty easy. Kitna is the clear starter, Orlovsky has more experience, and the edge to be the #2. I also think he is at worst a serviceable backup, if given a chance. He could even be starter material. My gut says he is at least as good as 4 or 5 other starting QB’s in the league right now. Stanton is essentially a rookie, and the #3 guy right now who just need to hold the clipboard, and learn.
WR/RB: I toyed going with 6 wideouts, and only two RB. This is because Felton is more of a short yardage back – FB combo. I heard someone predict he may be sledge incarnate. I’m thinking more of a certain TB FB who used to run quite often and attend many Honolulu ceremonies. I’m thinking Felton could be better.
I kept Bell because he is likely to split carries to start out, and then be used to spell Kevin or run out the clock when the game is out of reach and they don’t want Kevin getting injured (out of reach as in the are very far ahead ala Broncos.) His role will likely decrease as the season goes on. I picked Calhoun over Cason/Pinner et al because I feel he is a better fit as a backup should Smith or Bell be injured than either of the other two. With Ellis returning kicks, and possibly punts I don’t see a need to keep Cason around.
TE: I kept 10 linemen so I had to cut someone. This is risky considering Campbell’s health, but I kept McHugh who is an adequate TE, Adequate FB and good ST player. My alternate scenario of not keeping 10 linemen and going with Bradley and Felton at FB and 3 TE (with Fitzsimmons as the 3rd TE – primarily used as receiver and on ST).
O line: I kept all 10 in one scenario, and dropped Davis in the other. There is a slim chance he clears waivers – I think he may be practice squad eligible. One reason not to cut him is that A. He has shown good potential, and is developing well and B. Chicago is one of the teams really looking for Oline help – and would be the most likely to sign him to the active roster.
Defense: On the defensive side of the ball, I thought I would have a lot of problems. However, it fell a lot easier than I thought it would. I kept the best 6 LB. I went with my projected opening day roster, though I expect it to be the following possibly as soon as after the bye week:
WLB: Sims, Gardner
MLB: Dizon, Lenon, Davis
SLB: Lenon. Lewis, Davis
I know there has been a lot of speculation on moving Dizon to SLB, but I think that talk is premature. I also don’t think moving Davis to SLB is a “hope he makes the roster” kind of move. If he keeps having as good a camp as he has been, I can see him maybe even pushing Lewis and/or Lenon to start or heavily rotate in at SLB. His big problems are in coverage, and handling the mental aspects of the Mike. However, with his hitting ability and nose for stopping the run, he is practically a prototypical SLB in the DD. While they lost Baldwin on waivers (he subsequently went on IR soon after with KC. Still recovering, last I read), I think Davis was a great pickup, and will pay great dividends for the Lions, even if it is as a versatile backup and ST ace. As I see it right now, he is developing into what Boss Bailey was supposed to be.
None of the other LB impressed me enough to want to keep a 7th, and I figured the Dline or the Secondary could use that spot.
I had no hesitation as to the top 4 CB and S. Keith Smith is looking like a great resigning right now, and if he keeps up the progress will likely get an extension with the idea of replacing Kelly. Even as it is, he is likely to see a lot of playing time as Kelly will need to be rotated more frequently than, say, Bodden will. Fisher is the best Nickle back on the team. Stanley Wilson, unfortunately, seems to be having an awful camp and may have peaked last preseason. Too bad, but he still seems ill at ease in the scheme. After the Lions cut him, he should look for a team that does more man-to-man and freelancing, as he is better at that style of play.
I went with 10 men in the secondary – 5 CB and 5 S just because each unit has one starter – Kelly and D.Smith – that is a little long in the tooth, and will be rotated more. Edwards was a rabbit-out-of the hat pick just because he appears to be having a good camp, and no one else has stood out to me. I picked Blue for special teams and because he is very useful to have for running downs. They may keep Cory Smith as a 5th DE instead as he is also a solid ST player. However, a big part of me likes what Blue brings to the table for the Lions –especially in making stops for the special teams units. Avril, if he develops as well as his camp has been seeming to, will soon surpass the level at which Smith was. He isn’t as experienced, but has more raw talent.
Cohen I think clears waivers and makes the practice squad, along with Kenny Moore. That is guy who will really need to work on his stuff this filmseason and ifseason should he want another crack at the roster. This was, and still is, my least favorite pick from the ’08 draft.
As for the Dline, I wasn’t originally going to keep Cody, but he seems to be having a good camp, and the Lions have the chance to hopefully get some production out of him in his contract year. I kept 5 Dline and 4 DE because both Cody and Redding can move outside if need be. They also rotate the Dline pretty heavily, and I don’t expect that to change. Finally, if Cohen appears to be developing well on the practice squad and Cody starts sliding again, or performs poorly on the field they can always cut ties with him and bring up Cohen from the practice squad. Unless Cody has beyond one heck of a year, I don’t see the Lions keeping him in 09. My guess is that they go with Redding, Moore, Cohen and Fluellen, along with Darby in 09 and go with just the 4 younger guys after that.
Your thoughts, comments? Your own 53 man roster guesses?
I will update this one until just before the final cuts, and then make my final roster prediction that takes into account pre-season games and injuries.
Once again, let the guessing begin!!