It’s almost guaranteed that not every type of draft will come out of a given year – that’s just the harsh truth about the Draft NFL gambling. However, it is not beyond the realm of the possibility that the draft selection will not even make it to the squad in its rookie year. Could this happen with the 2022 Detroit Lions?
Draft ditching is no stranger to those who have been following Detroit for a while. In 2020, Jason Huntley from the fifth round failed to complete the starting line-up of 53 people and was recalled. A year earlier, PJ Johnson’s seventh defensive round had been waived on the day of the cut. In 2017, two debutants were not included: quarterback Brad Kaaya (sixth round) and defensive Pat O’Connor (seventh round).
In the first year Brad Holmes was CEO of the Lions, he achieved a perfect seven to seven, and his draft selections saw the team – not only that, but most of them making a significant contribution throughout the season. Even after an active off-season, it seems likely that most, if not all, of these players will also find their way into this year’s squad.
Draft 2022 might be a different story, but not for a lack of good typos.
Apart from some scandalous circumstances, the first four selections of Lviv should be blockades of the plan. Aidan Hutchinson is a much needed pass player along the back line. Jameson Williams is an explosive quarterback. Josh Paschal is a versatile chess piece. Kerby Joseph is at least a solid depth of security.
The next four types, however, may be a bit more uncertain. As you might expect, James Mitchell is likely to be in the squad, but with a deep and very precarious tight end group, there are no guarantees. Not only does Mitchell have to come back healthy, he must also fend off the attacks of Devin Funchess, Garrett Griffin, Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra.
Next up is a pair of linebackers, both of which can face the stiff competition. Malcolm Rodriguez’s best path to the squad is through special teams, but also a group of other players. Chris Board, Jarrad Davis, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Natrez Patrick, Anthony Pittman and Josh Woods could very well push him into one of the few spots on the special teams. As for James Houston, he not only has to fend off the linebackers mentioned above, but also faces competition on the brink. He is dealing with a difficult learning curve in the NFL, and it seems that reducing his role at an early stage is a strategy for Lviv.
Finally, Chase Lucas joins an already crowded group of attackers. Lions have not only Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye appetizers, but also depth. Jerry Jacobs, Ifeatu Melifonwu, AJ Parker, and Mike Hughes are some of the names that overtake Lucas in the depth chart – not to mention the safety of Will Harris who can take a peek at the corner. Coupled with his status as a late-round candidate, Lucas has a lot of competition for a spot on the list.
The Lions list has been significantly improved since 2021. Will it cost the project that selects a spot on the list?
Today’s question of the day is:
Will any of the drafts go to the starting line-up of 53 people?
My answer: I don’t think three of them will make up the original 53: Jameson Williams, James Houston and Chase Lucas.
Before you angrily write that Williams is not on the list, it is because he might end up on the Physically Incapable (and therefore would not count towards the squad quota) list. The timeline for Williams is still in the air, but the Lions may choose to travel patiently with him; once healthy, it will be a valuable asset in an attack.
As for the other two players, I think they may be victims of the numbers game.
In 2021, the Lions had five linebackers in its original 53-man squad. Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes should be blockers, but there are two or three (maybe four at most) spare slots left between Houston, Rodriguez, Board, Davis, Hamilton, Patrick, Pittman and Woods. Given that Houston is a bit of a project compared to other defenders, it could be destined for a training squad – if it clears waivers.
Okudah, Oruwariye, Melifonwu, Jacobs, and Parker placed the Lions at five corners, six if Will Harris is included. There is a non-zero chance that Mike Hughes will be cut off, but taking part in training camp seems like a good bet to make a squad. Lucas will have to impress the defense and special teams to be on the list. At first, Lucas impressed the coaches during the OTA. If he could translate that into training camp and preseason, he could soar in the depth chart. At this point, however, I can still see him outside, peering in.
With the eight new drafting types joining the Lions list, how many will make the 53-man list in September?