Detroit Lions: J.B. Shugarts

The offseason workouts have concluded and with players and coaches about six weeks away from the start of training camp, one last rest and individualized training period will commence.

After a month of workouts, though, there have been some players who have made cases for potential roster spots in the fall and others who did not help themselves nearly as much.

Just like the start of the spring workouts, here is a look at the Detroit depth chart – along with a post-minicamp guess at the 53-man roster that could end up being the Lions’ team in the fall. Remember, a lot can change between now and then.

Changes from our May offensive prediction are in parentheses.

QUARTERBACK:

Projected starter: Matthew Stafford (no change)

Backups (in projected depth-chart order for now): Dan Orlovsky; Kellen Moore; James Franklin (no changes)

Thoughts: Stafford remains Detroit’s starter and barring injury, that won’t change. Orlovsky will be the No. 2 quarterback – and that probably isn’t changing, either. The main battle in camp will be between Moore and Franklin for the No. 3 spot, if the Lions take a third quarterback. Franklin took no snaps in the spring, but Lions head coach Jim Caldwell indicated he’ll see live game action in the preseason.

Roster locks: Stafford; Orlovsky (add Orlovsky)

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Stafford, Orlovsky, Franklin (practice squad) (Franklin from 53-man to practice squad)

RUNNING BACK

Projected starter(s): Reggie Bush/Joique Bell

Backups (in projected depth-chart order): Theo Riddick, Mikel Leshoure, Steven Miller.

Thoughts: Bush and Bell aren’t going anywhere. Riddick was one of the stars of the spring and looks like he’ll end up having a role in the offense beyond special teams this season. Leshoure missed part of spring workouts, so it is tough to say where his role will be this season, if he has one. But Detroit has its first three running backs pretty set right now unless it makes a free-agent move at the position.

Roster locks: Bush, Bell, Riddick (add Riddick)

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Bush, Bell, Riddick, Leshoure (no changes)

FULLBACK

Projected starter: Jed Collins.

Backups (in projected depth-chart order): Montell Owens, Chad Abram.

Thoughts: This is a tough position to pick. Collins is the clear favorite heading into camp, although Owens’ spot on the roster could depend how Detroit feels about the rest of its teams units. If there is comfort there from other spots, Owens might be out of a job. If not, the Lions might keep him along with Collins because Owens can be a running back as well. Abram is probably headed toward the practice squad.

Roster locks: None. (no changes)

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Collins, Owens, Abram (practice squad) (add Owens to 53-man, move Abram to practice squad)

WIDE RECEIVER

Projected starters: Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate

Backups (in projected depth-chart order): Jeremy Ross, Ryan Broyles, Kris Durham, Kevin Ogletree, TJ Jones, Corey Fuller, Naaman Roosevelt, Patrick Edwards, Cody Wilson, Andrew Peacock.

Thoughts: This was the spring of Jeremy Ross. He will make the roster at least as the team’s returner but probably showed enough during the spring to at least enter training camp with a good shot at being the team’s third or fourth receiver. Another surprise was Broyles, who if he can stay healthy could end up making a contribution in the fall. He isn’t a roster lock yet, but will certainly get some opportunities. The competition for the third (or fourth) outside receiver will be one to watch in the fall.

Roster locks: Johnson, Tate, Ross (add Ross)

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Johnson, Tate, Ross, Durham, Broyles, Jones, Fuller (practice squad). (Add Broyles to roster from PUP, move Fuller from roster to practice squad.)

TIGHT END

Projected starters: Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew.

Backups (in projected depth-chart order): Joseph Fauria, Jordan Thompson, Jacob Maxwell.

Thoughts: Moving Michael Williams to tackle all but assured Fauria a roster spot in the fall. It also means Detroit is probably going to carry only three tight ends on the roster unless either Thompson or Maxwell makes a massive move during training camp. The other thing benefiting Fauria is Ebron’s struggles with catching the ball at times.

Roster locks: Ebron, Pettigrew, Fauria. (Add Fauria)

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Ebron, Pettigrew, Fauria. (Minus Williams)

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Projected starters: Riley Reiff (LT); LaAdrian Waddle (RT).

Backups (in projected depth-chart order): Corey Hilliard, Cornelius Lucas, Michael Williams, J.B. Shugarts, Bryce Quigley.

Thoughts: This position seems fairly settled other than the No. 4 tackle spot. Reiff and Waddle aren’t going anywhere and Hilliard will likely push Waddle for a starting spot. As of now, Lucas has the inside shot on the fourth tackle position.

Roster locks: Reiff, Waddle (no changes)

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Reiff, Waddle, Hilliard, Lucas.

GUARD

Projected starters: Rob Sims (LG); Larry Warford (RG).

Backups (in projected depth-chart order): Rodney Austin, Travis Swanson, Alex Bullard, D.J. Morrell.

Thoughts: Warford is not going anywhere and Rodney Austin had a good enough spring that both he and Swanson might make the roster as swing backups that could end up as starters by 2015 to replace Sims and Dominic Raiola. As long as Sims is healthy, he’ll make this team and start as well. The interesting question might be a practice squad candidate out of this group.

Roster locks: Warford (no changes)

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Warford, Sims, Austin, Bullard (practice squad)

CENTER

Projected starter: Dominic Raiola

Backups (in projected depth-chart order): Swanson, Austin, Darren Keyton, Bullard.

Thoughts: Raiola is the starter here. Austin and Swanson will eventually compete for the starter’s role. Pretty cut and dry here.

Roster locks: Raiola, Swanson. (no changes)

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Raiola, Swanson.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The true waiting began in the fourth round and started with a phone call from the Detroit Lions' headquarters to offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas.

It was then, on the first round of the final day of the 2014 draft, when Lucas first heard from an NFL team about potentially being drafted. Then the long, hard, frustrating day that began with the Kansas State lineman thinking he might be selected to not hearing his name at all wrapped through four rounds and many, many hours.

“Very disappointing,” Lucas said Sunday. “Work for something for so long and it doesn’t go how you want it to.”

It may not have worked out as planned for the 6-foot-8, 328-pound Lucas, but it worked out well for Detroit. The first impression the team made mattered at the end, when a few other teams called and six or seven of them offered Lucas undrafted free agent contracts.

He considered them briefly and then 15 minutes later chose to go with the team that first reached out – the Lions.

“I just feel like they genuinely had a great interest in me,” Lucas said. “It wasn’t some kind of last-minute deal that they were trying to sign.”

Lucas ended up in this position due to a stress fracture in his foot that was discovered during the pre-draft process at the NFL combine. It kept him from being able to appropriately train and adequately work out for teams, who wondered about his health.

This took a player who could have been drafted if healthy and turned him into a priority free agent. This, too, worked out well for Detroit.

As teams continually passed on Lucas, he studied the depth chart of every team in the league. In doing that, he likely saw an advantageous situation with the Lions. While the starters – Riley Reiff at left tackle and LaAdrian Waddle at right tackle – may be set, there was not much depth there. The veteran Corey Hilliard can back up either position, but if the Lions were to keep four tackles, all he would have to do is beat out J.B. Shugarts for a spot on the team.

Waddle’s story from last season – undrafted free agent to starting at right tackle midway through his rookie season due to injury – had been told to Lucas many times since he arrived in Detroit. The message is likely similar: It’s happened once, even with a large chunk of this coaching staff and front office. So it can happen again.

Lucas, who said he is still easing his way back into practicing, understands that.

“I actually watched him on film in college and stuff like that,” Lucas said. “Once I got here, I heard his story over and over and again and I would love to have the same story and possible do even better.”

Even though he didn’t practice much during rookie minicamp, Detroit’s coaching staff already has an expectation of what he’ll be able to do when he’s healthy – and teaching that type of frame is one thing that is impossible.

“We know that, obviously, he’s got a great upside because of his length and size,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s a smart guy. He’s a willing worker and he’s really one of those guys that over the years you’re going to see some development and positive development.”
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions didn't appear to want to spend a lot of money on a backup quarterback -- something that became obvious once the team let Shaun Hill go to St. Louis.

And in signing veteran Dan Orlovsky, the Lions were able to bring in an experienced player for relatively little money for a quarterback.

Orlovsky's one-year contract with Detroit has a cap number of $635,000 and a base salary of $855,000. He also received a $65,000 signing bonus and $60,000 of his base salary is also guaranteed.

So that'll give him a total of $125,000 in guaranteed money no matter what happens this season.

"It’s good to be back," Orlovsky said Monday. "Truthfully, when I knew free agency was going to come, I had a good talk with my agent and expressed my desire that this had to be near the top of my list so it’s obviously a unique story and cool story to come back near the back end of my career, where it all started for me."

Orlovsky, who was drafted by Detroit in the fifth round in 2005, spent the past two seasons in Tampa Bay. In his career, he has completed 276 of 472 passes for 2,931 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His most playing time came in 2008, when he played in 10 games for the Lions, and in 2011, when he appeared in eight games with Indianapolis, then coached by Jim Caldwell.

The Lions' other signing last week, offensive tackle J.B. Shugarts, received a one-year contract at $420,000 with no bonuses and no signing bonus.
In the same week Jason Fox left Detroit for Miami -- on a veteran minimum deal -- the Lions have brought in another offensive tackle.

The team has signed J.B. Shugarts, most likely to be known for having played for Ohio State than anything he has done in the pros.

Shugarts has spent time with Cleveland in 2012 and then Dallas and the New York Jets in 2013, but never more as a practice player. The Klein, Texas, native started for three seasons with the Buckeyes.

As of now, he would be the fourth tackle in the rotation behind starters Riley Reiff and LaAdrian Waddle and third tackle Corey Hilliard.

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