What the Lions lineup looks like right now
March, 27, 2014
By Michael Rothstein | ESPN.com
As free agency winds down and focus on the draft intensifies, here’s a look at what the Detroit Lions lineup would look like if the season started now.
- Starter: Matthew Stafford
- Primary Backup: Kellen Moore/TBD
- Quick analysis: Stafford is going to be the starter and the main question is whether Moore can be the viable No. 2. The Lions don’t appear to be convinced of that, and if the team signs a veteran, Moore could be in trouble for a roster spot.
- Starter: Reggie Bush/Joique Bell
- Primary Backups: Theo Riddick/Mikel Leshoure
- Depth: Steven Miller
- Quick analysis: As of now, running back is the most stable position on the roster. Bush and Bell are both capable starters. Leshoure has played well in the past when he received opportunities, but didn’t last season. Riddick was mostly a special teams player last season.
- Starter: Jed Collins
- Backup: Montell Owens
- Quick analysis: Tough to see both players making the roster. Owens is probably the more versatile of the two but Collins is the truer fullback and has familiarity with Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
- Starters: Calvin Johnson/Golden Tate
- Primary Backups: Kris Durham/Ryan Broyles/Kevin Ogletree
- Depth: Jeremy Ross/Patrick Edwards/Cody Wilson/Corey Fuller
- Quick analysis: Johnson and Tate are locked-in starters and the Lions are hoping they are one of the top combinations in the NFL. Finding either a starting slot receiver or an outside receiver -- depending where Tate plays -- is a priority. Durham improved last season and Ogletree provides an outside speed component, but are more useful as veteran depth. Broyles’ ability is based on his recovery from an Achilles injury. Ross developed well last season, but mostly as a returner.
- Starter: Brandon Pettigrew
- Primary Backup: Joseph Fauria
- Depth: Michael Williams/Matt Veldman
- Quick analysis: The Lions likely add a tight end through the draft, too, meaning at least one of these players won’t be around in the fall. Williams is the real question mark, as he didn’t play at all last season after being put on injured reserve.
- Starter: Riley Reiff
- Primary Backup: LaAdrian Waddle/Corey Hilliard
- Quick analysis: Reiff is the starter and if he went down, either Waddle would slide over from the right or Hilliard would come in on the left. The team could add one more player here.
- Starter: Rob Sims
- Primary Backup: Rodney Austin
- Depth: Darren Keyton
- Quick analysis: Sims is the starter entering the final year of his contract. Austin is a developmental project and Keyton was brought back this offseason. Like at tackle, the team could add someone here late if they don’t think Austin could eventually replace Sims.
- Starter: Dominic Raiola
- Primary Backup: TBD
- Depth: Austin/Keyton
- Quick analysis: The Lions will probably be looking for their future center in the draft unless they find a cheap, young veteran to sign. Weston Richburg, Tyler Larsen and Gabe Ikard are all possible mid-round names for Detroit to consider.
- Starter: Larry Warford
- Primary Backup: Austin
- Depth: Keyton
- Quick analysis: As mentioned with left guard, the Lions will likely bring in a guard to provide as depth. Warford is a lock to be the team’s starting right guard.
- Starter: LaAdrian Waddle
- Primary Backup: Hilliard
- Quick analysis: If the team brings in a tackle, it would likely to be to compete on the right side. The only way Reiff gets moved from left tackle back to right or inside to guard is if the team selects a tackle with the No. 10 pick.
- Starters: Ezekiel Ansah/Jason Jones
- Primary Backup: Devin Taylor/Darryl Tapp
- Quick analysis: Ansah, despite his injuries, will be a lock to start as long as he’s healthy. The Jones/Taylor/Tapp competition for the spot opposite Ansah will be one of the more intriguing battles in camp. Don’t be surprised if Detroit goes after a pass-rusher in the draft to try and replicate last season’s Ansah/Taylor successes.
- Starters: Ndamukong Suh/Nick Fairley
- Primary Backups: C.J. Mosley/Andre Fluellen
- Depth: Corvey Irvin/Vaughn Martin/Jimmy Saddler-McQueen/Xavier Proctor
- Quick analysis: While Detroit would appear set here, that is only a short-term solution. Only Saddler-McQueen and Proctor -- practice squad players last season -- will be under contract for 2015. So the Lions will have holes to fill there and could do so early in May’s draft. If the team drafts a tackle high, it could mean Suh or Fairley -- or both -- will likely not return after next season.
- Starters: DeAndre Levy/Stephen Tulloch/Ashlee Palmer
- Primary Backups: Tahir Whitehead/Travis Lewis
- Depth: Julian Stanford/Brandon Hepburn/Jon Morgan
- Quick analysis: Other than Levy and Tulloch, there are a lot of unproven players and a reason Detroit might look at linebacker at No. 10 if Anthony Barr is available. If the Lions play more 4-3 than nickel in 2014, the team is very thin at this position.
- Starters: Chris Houston/Darius Slay/Bill Bentley (nickel)
- Primary Backups: Bentley/Jonte Green/Chris Greenwood
- Quick analysis: This is a big offseason for Detroit’s cornerbacks. Other than Houston, none have significant experience, but are all entering their second and third seasons, so they need to show they are capable or the team will move on to the next group of corners. Detroit will explore this position somewhere in the draft, possibly early.
- Starters: Glover Quin/James Ihedigbo
- Primary Backups: Isa Abdul-Quddus/Don Carey
- Depth: Dejon Gomes/Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
- Quick analysis: Quin and Ihedigbo are going to be the starters and Carey will push Bentley for time at nickel. Abdul-Quddus is intriguing because he is both a good teams player and played some safety in New Orleans. Much like corner, this is still a position the Lions could draft early – perhaps one they probably should.