The Detroit Lions Have Released Their Latest Depth Chart Ahead Of Preseason Game One Against Oakland
Well, at last football really is just around the corner, and with the first preseason game against Oakland mere days away, the Lions have released their latest – unofficial, yet-to-be-finalized – depth chart. It’s a real mixed bag, with some position group as you’d expect, some not so much. Let’s have a look at some key takeaways…
Why am I starting here? Well, on a personal level it’s because I found the defense incredibly frustrating last year and it’s this side of the game in particular that I hope to see develop. The defense had a yo-yo season in 2017 but was generally renowned as ineffective against the run game, ranking 18th overall but leaving fans feeling like they were ten places lower.
Time and time again opposing backs were able to blast through the line for big yards. Detroit will be starting three new players on defense according to this latest depth chart: Sylvester Williams will be lining up at DT opposite A’Shawn Robinson who is reprising a role that earned him mixed reviews last year, and linebackers Devon Kennard, formerly of the Giants and ex-Bear Christian Jones will take to the field behind the line. Both bring four years of experience to the linebacking corps.
With a wealth of experience across these men and time to gel before regular season football begins, it is fair to expect the defense to close up the holes that proliferated last year. The secondary starters remain the tried and tested formula of Slay, Lawson, Diggs and Quin, who must surely form one of the top-ten units in the league this year. I’m excited to see how well this unit performs and am optimistic that the Lions defense will rise from last year’s 27th overall ranking.
There are four new faces on the starting lineup for the offense. The vacant first-string tight end spot, once held by much-maligned Eric Ebron, has thus far been claimed by Luke Willson who has outperformed Michael Roberts throughout training camp. He is in a good position to lock down the starting spot for the season with the second-string still an intriguing battle between Roberts – who displayed a concerning tendency for drops in camp – and former Falcon Levine Toilolo.
Also bolstering the offense, this time on the line, is Frank Ragnow at left guard, the 6’5″ 308lb behemoth of a man who was taken first overall in this year’s draft. Fans were rightly excited to see him join the team and his imposing presence can surely only help the faltering run game of last season. Speaking of which…
While the defense was reminiscent of a sieve for opposing running backs to pour through, the Lions’ own running back corps poured like molasses. I lost count of the times I watched Abdullah run into a wall for a zero-yard gain. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the starter roles are taken by LeGarrette Blount and the ever-versatile Theo Riddick. Abdullah takes a backup spot along with rookie Kerryon Johnson on this depth chart.
But remember folks it’s not set in stone yet, although personally, this is how I expect the Lions to line their starters up going into week one of the regular season. Given that Abdullah is listed once again as kick returner, a role he has performed well in over previous seasons (more on special teams in a moment) I have an inkling we may see Johnson beat him out for that third RB spot.
At receiver my expectations are met with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. taking the starting roles, backup being provided by Kenny Golladay and TJ Jones in the first instance. I am really looking forward to seeing these guys take to the field in regular season football again.
Well, to be frank, there’s not a great deal to report here. There are familiar faces in a number of roles on this depth chart. Prater returns to swing his mighty leg at the static ball; Sam Martin is the starting punter and will hopefully improve on last year’s disastrous performance – don’t get me wrong, I like Martin, but he really needs to find his form of old this year, or rookie Ryan Santoso who had a good camp by all accounts may knock him off the number one spot. Don Muhlbach returns to his regular spot as long snapper and fan-favorite Jamal Agnew returns as punt returner, so it’s largely business as usual for the special teams unit.
Now we just need to sit tight a few more days before cracking open that first beer of the preseason, pretending it’s an important game and sitting down to bellow obsceneties at the television once again. Let the good times roll!