Today we’re going to take a look at all 90 players on the Detroit Lions roster and how their Detroit Lions Training Camp performance has been. I’m going to look at how well they performed, whether their stock is going up or down, what their chances are of making the roster, and what they’ll have to do to make the roster if the chances are slim. I will do my best to avoid being long-winded, so I apologize if the explanations seem a little rushed. For more detailed reporting, you can check out the reports from my first, second, and third days at Detroit Lions Training Camp 2013. For this piece, I will be listing the players in order of who I felt had the better camp. Not a true 1-90, I’ll be going by a kind of vague impressiveness sort of thing, so some of these guys may be lower simply because they didn’t leave an impression, not because they did poorly. As there is a LOT of ground to cover, even being brief, today will be addressing solely the Offensive Skill Positions: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End, and the Kickers.
Analysis: Hill looks sharp and slim. He’s making the throws he needs to, but importantly looks like the solid backup we’ve come to depend on.
Chances he makes the 53: The best #2 QB the Lions have had in forever, he’s not going anywhere.
What he’s gotta do: Not get injured.
Analysis: I reported before that Stafford’s mechanics didn’t seem to improve in the offseason. Still our best QB, I’m reserving judgement, but I expected more improvement than I saw.
Stock: Obviously high enough to be extended.
Chances he makes the 53: 100%
Analysis: Lewis looks good when he isn’t pressured, and in the little work he’s received with a line coming at him he hasn’t been. If he shows he can perform in the pocket, he might sneak up into the top 53 players. Right now he isn’t. Has made some poor decisions with his throws, but decent accuracy.
Chances he makes the 53: If the Lions keep a 3rd QB, which they might not, he’s close.
What he’s gotta do: Not just a strong preseason, Lewis needs to show he’s not going to be rattled under pressure like he was at Duke and all of his pro stops.
Analysis: Moore looked better than I expected, but his added arm strength came at the expense of his mechanics. Also not a top 53 player right now. Moore has thrown some really poor throws into coverage in camp, and it’s hard to think his arm strength isn’t still a liability.
Chances he makes the 53:
What he’s gotta do: With a strong preseason showing, Lewis will have to prove he has improved on his pocket presence which has always been a huge problem for him.
Analysis: Has been as good as advertised. Bush has shown a quick understanding of the Lions playbook and it appears tailor-made for him.
Chances he makes the 53: A Perfect 10
What he’s gotta do: Exist
Analysis: Riddick has had a very strong camp, drawing praise for his understanding of running between the tackles. He’s also shown well as a receiver and on Special Teams. His toe injury hurts him, though.
Stock: Very Up
Chances he makes the 53: Much better than it was. The Lions backfield is crowded, but if he shows he can run between the tackles and be a more dynamic receiver than Joique Bell was, his ST abilities could put him all the way up to that spot. Barring that, he could knock off Owens for ST duty.
What he’s gotta do: Riddick has to show he can contribute on offense more than Owens while providing the same amount of ST play, or close to it.
Analysis: What you see is what you get with Bell. A jack of all trades, but a master of none. Looks just as sharp as last season.
Chances he makes the 53: Pretty good
What he’s gotta do: As an incumbent, he just has to prove he’s still an important part of the offense. No longer the #2 back, he needs to show he can contribute on Special Teams as well as maintaining his late game workload.
Analysis: Leshoure has had his moments. He looks faster and quicker than last season, and some of his burst has returned. Still not as good as he looked in camp as a rookie prior to his injury, though.
Chances he makes the 53: Solid
What he’s gotta do: Improving as a between the tackle runner and showing better hands in the preseason. Leshoure was money in the red zone, but needs to show that flair in the other 80 yards.
Analysis: Owens showed some good blocking in early drills. I didn’t see him perform ST drills, which is what he was signed for, so I can’t speak to it.
Chances he makes the 53: More dependant on other players than himself
What he’s gotta do: Owens has to show he can contribute on offense even a little bit. His ST abilities can NOT fall off, and since opportunities are limited it won’t take much for a cheaper, younger player to supplant him.
Analysis: Burst through the hole, his biggest asset, was on display. Looks as tiny as he is. Sharp in ST drills.
Chances he makes the 53: Long Road
What he’s gotta do: Not likely to make the team as a RB, Miller has to own that Kick Return spot and make a huge impression early and often.
Analysis: A FB who can neither block nor catch well.
Chances he makes the 53: #2 FB in a FBless offense
What he’s gotta do: Show he can run, catch, and block, no big whoop.
Analysis: He’s Calvin Johnson
Stock: Somehow, Up
Chances he makes the 53: He’s Calvin Johnson
What he’s gotta do: Continue to be Calvin Johnson
Analysis: The 2nd best Wide Receiver at Detroit Lions Training Camp, Edwards has been nearly uncoverable while showing an uncanny skill for playing on the outside for his size. A speed demon, Edwards has shown a unique understanding of how to gain separation and his chemistry with Stafford and Hill is unmistakable.
Stock: Up, Up, Up
Chances he makes the 53: Hard to see him not
What he’s gotta do: He could start by not falling off in the preseason like last season. If he continues to make plays, there aren’t any receivers more dynamic than him on the roster.
Analysis: This one was close between Broyles and Durham, but I’ll give the nod to the more complete player. Broyles has shown good burst and some amazing route running in camp. You’d never know he was injured.
Chances he makes the 53: Oh he’s making it
What he’s gotta do: He’s gotta keep his knees intact.
Analysis: A ghost in the red zone last season, Durham has been an absolute monster in goal line drills. His route running is atrocious, but his hands have been extraordinary.
Chances he makes the 53: Tall
What he’s gotta do: Continue making plays in the red zone. He may not be very versatile, but his one trick is a good trick.
Analysis: Looks like his old self. An elite team leader, he may be stepping aside for the younger talent. Didn’t do much of notice as a receiver in camp, though.
Stock: In a way, down
Chances he makes the 53: Teams don’t move on from leaders like him easily
What he’s gotta do: Less about what he does, if he continues to mentor the younger guys and they do well, he’s staying.
Analysis: A surprise standout, Schilens went from long shot to 1st team very quickly.
Chances he makes the 53: Better than expected
What he’s gotta do: Schilens needs to outperform either Durham or Edwards, barring that he needs to prove he’s worth changing roster philosophy to keep.
Analysis: Drafted to develop, he’s had a lot of wow moments. Some of those wow moments were dropping easy passes and losing the ball, however.
Chances he makes the 53: Surprisingly Tough
What he’s gotta do: Fuller was picked up for his size and speed, but it has been his hands that have been lacking. Needs to consistently beat his man and consistently catch his passes.
Analysis: Actually looking like a player worth trading for. Thomas looked lost last season, with only a few moments of brilliance.
Stock: Unintentionally Down
Chances he makes the 53: Resistance has been staunch
What he’s gotta do: Thomas has looked good in camp, but the far better showing by Edwards really hurts him. As he’s under a multi-year contract, playing well may make him trade bait.
Analysis: Though he’s received some praise, Austin has looked like just another camp guy to me. Hasn’t looked like a liability, but only stood out when facing the bottom of the roster at CB.
Stock: Static, but wasn’t great to start with
Chances he makes the 53: Better than Devin Thomas
What he’s gotta do: Edwards would be his biggest target to beat, but many have outperformed him as a receiver and as a returner.
Analysis: Signed as a returner, he hasn’t looked better than any of the other ones. Doesn’t stand out as a receiver, either.
Chances he makes the 53: He is now a former favorite
What he’s gotta do: Absolutely must outperform every returner.
Analysis: Only stood out in a slot role briefly on my third day, Wilson looked slow and worst of all average in receiving drills the rest of the time.
Chances he makes the 53: The road couldn’t get any longer
What he’s gotta do: Wilson will have to stand out on Special Teams AND prove he’s at least on equal footing as Ryan Broyles in the slot. A tough job on either front.
Analysis: The only receiver who left a decidedly negative impression on me, Willis has looked like a camp guy from the start.
Chances he makes the 53: Few have a worse shot
What he’s gotta do: Not pushing off would be a start. Willis will have to prove himself on Special teams and make himself look like an appealing receiving option. He’s done neither so far.
Analysis: Pettigrew has looked quick and determined in camp. He must know his future as a Lion is on the line. He only had one drop that I saw, and his catches especially in the red zone have looked fantastic.
Chances he makes the 53: About as good as any #1
What he’s gotta do: Pettigrew will make the roster in 2013, but his job in 2013 is not as secure.
Analysis: Williams has looked serviceable as a receiver, but it is his skills as a blocker that have really stood out. He is what we drafted him to be, I believe.
Stock: Static, but good
Chances he makes the 53: Better than Heller’s
What he’s gotta do: When he was drafted, he was picked up to be Heller’s replacement. He looks like that guy, and only needs to prove it in the preseason.
Analysis: I was sad the first time I saw Fauria, who did very little when I first saw him. He made up for it the next day with some amazing catches and surprising blocking.
Chances he makes the 53: He’s got some competition
What he’s gotta do: I’ve long been a proponent of Fauria’s, and I still think he has a good shot at the roster. That said, I didn’t expect such a strong showing from Matt Veldman, so it could be a toss-up.
Analysis: A virtual unknown, little was expected out of Veldman when he was signed. What the Lions got was an able receiving TE that has shown some skill as a blocker. More complete than Fauria and Scheffler, Veldman isn’t quite the receiving threat the others have shown themselves to be.
Chances he makes the 53: 5th TE with a shorter leap than you’d think to 3rd
What he’s gotta do: Veldman is a favorite of the Lions new TE coach, it is more a matter of whether he can gel in Scot Linehan’s offense.
Analysis: I can hear you groaning. While I have been a vocal believer that Scheffler is firmly on the bubble(even before Fauria was signed), he is only 5th out of the TEs in camp because I didn’t catch many of his plays and the few times I did he wasn’t targeted. All five TEs performed well in camp, Scheffler was simply the least notable of the five.
Chances he makes the 53: Frontrunner for #2 with a LOT of guys nipping his heels
What he’s gotta do: Scheffler needs to get back to his 2011 form with the quickness. A smaller number of targets will help, as he clearly couldn’t handle the load he received in 2012.
Analysis: Coming in fresh, I didn’t expect much out of Rugland even though I personally hoped he would beat out Akers due to Akers’ age. From as unbiased a standpoint I can have, Rugland has had the superior camp if only for how he never looked out-of-place and went blow for blow with a 14 year veteran. Rugland is a legitimate option as a Kicker, not a sideshow, not there only because he’s a lefty. His leg strength is phenomenal.
Chances he makes the 53: Still the Underdog
What he’s gotta do: Rugland needs to show accuracy in-game time conditions and prove that his massive leg can put accurate footballs through uprights. There wasn’t much weather to speak of, so that’s yet another concern. Distance is the only thing he DOESN’T have to prove.
Analysis: Though not a fan of Akers myself, he looked good in camp. Akers still has a big leg, and his accuracy was good all camp. His one miss in camp was surprisingly low for only 46 yards, and another from 50 was also low but in. Outside of those two kicks, he’s been spot on. My one concern is his health. Although he didn’t hobble, or show pain, he left the field completely on more than one occasion leaving the bulk of the work to Rugland. While I’m sure some of that is because he’s a known product, the team’s history with resting veterans with injuries makes me wonder if his recent surgery isn’t some kind of a factor.
Chances he makes the 53: Didn’t get any worse.
What he’s gotta do: Akers has to match Rugland in preseason. He won’t win a roster spot just because he’s a veteran, as first reported, but he doesn’t have to beat the upstart Norwegian outright to make the roster.