Detroit Lions depth chart: Pre-2024 NFL draft edition

The 2024 NFL Draft is upon us, making it an excellent time for a refresher on Detroit Lions The roster is set, here’s a quick look at the team’s depth chart ahead of the big event.

It should be noted that team rosters are expanded to 90 players during the offseason and currently the Lions have 65 players under contract as well as seven draft picks. This means Detroit will likely be active in the undrafted free agent and unrestricted free agent markets after the draft, as they can add up to 18 additional players, beyond those drafted.

Quarterback (3)

Beginner: Jared Goff
Best Reserve: Hendon Hooker
Depth: Nate Sudfeld

The Lions appear settled in their two primary quarterback roles, but will likely bring in a fourth quarterback to challenge Nate Sudfeld for a depth role. Drafting a quarterback seems unlikely, but adding an undrafted free agent (UDFA) would make a lot of sense.

Revenant (6)

Co-starters: David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs
Top Reserves: Craig Reynolds, Zonovan Knight
Depth: Jermar Jefferson, Jake Funk

The Lions finished the season with all six of these running backs on their roster in some capacity. This room is crowded, but the Lions are always looking for talent to improve their positions, so if the right running back arrives at the right time, more competition could be added.

Wide Receiver (9)

Entries: Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams
Best reserves: Kalif Raymond, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Antoine Green
Depth: Tom Kennedy, Maurice Alexander, Daurice Fountain, Tre’Quan Smith

With only two clear starters, the Lions could look to add a starter in the draft – potentially with a high pick – or simply rely on their top reserves to compete for the vacant position. Kalif Raymond has starting experience with the Lions, Donovan Peoples-Jones has started in the past for the Cleveland Browns and Antoine Green was drafted last year hoping to carve out a role for himself.

Tight end (4)

Entrance: Sam LaPorta
Primary reserve: Brock Wright
Depth: James Mitchell, Shane Zylstra

With the new changes to kickoff rules, I suggested that tight ends will become more valuable on special teams, which could lead to Detroit keeping four on its active roster this season. The four currently on the roster were the same four competing for roles last season, and could easily be the four the Lions take into the season. But don’t expect the Lions to let them sit comfortably. Adding more challengers to this room should be considered.

Offensive line (12)

Starters: Taylor Decker (LT), Graham Glasgow (LG), Frank Ragnow (C), Kevin Zeitler (RG), Penei Sewell (RT)
Top reserves: Kayode Awosika (G), Colby Sorsdal (G/T), Dan Skipper (T/G)
Depth: Michael Neise (IOL), Matt Farniok (OL), Netane Muti (G), Connor Galvin (T)

The Lions have a solid starting five and three reserves that they fielded all of last season. But with how important the offensive line is to this organization, some aging starters, and some expiring contracts, adding top-level offensive line talent could be a priority in this draft.

Interior defensive line (5)

Entries: Alim McNeill and DJ Reader
Best reserves: Levi Onwuzurike, Brodric Martin
Depth: Chris Smith

The Lions have already made a significant upgrade to this position group by adding DJ Reader, but there are some question marks among the reserves and the future may require some security. This is an important, low-profile position that the Lions could address in the draft.

EDGE (7)

Entries: Aidan Hutchinson and John Cominsky or Josh Paschal
Best reserves: Marcus Davenport, James Houston (SAM)
Depth: Mitchell Agude, Mathieu Betts

The Lions could enter the season with their top seven players listed here and feel very comfortable. That being said, there is always room for upgrade and it’s never a bad idea to add a player who can get after the quarterback. The Lions could end up using a first-round pick at the position or avoid it altogether.

Linebacker (5)

Entries: Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes
First reserve: Jack Campbell
Depth: Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Malcolm Rodriguez

The Lions return five of their top six linebackers from last season, and with the new kickoff rules, it’s fair to speculate how high a priority it will be to add a sixth player to that group. If they add another player, expect him to be a special teams ace first and a defender second.

Corner (7)

Runners: Carlton Davis and Amik Robertson
Upper reserve: Emmanuel Moseley, Kindle Vildor
Depth: Khalil Dorsey, Steven Gilmore, Craig James

The cornerback room has seen a lot of turnover this offseason, but there’s still a very good chance the Lions will continue to add talent, perhaps even in the first round. If the Lions don’t end up selecting a corner with the ability to compete for a starting role in 2024, it’s also possible the Lions could look to free agency for more depth.

Nickel (1)

Entry: Brian Branch
Upper reserve: None

Branch is entrenched as the starting nickel, but beyond him the cupboard is empty except for a few players who can line up inside in a pinch. With no clear reserve on the inside and no potential need for competition on the outside, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Lions double up in this draft.

Security (3)

Entries: Kerby Joseph and Ifetu Melifonwu
First reserve: Brandon Joseph

The Lions should feel comfortable with their starters’ upside, but with Kerby Joseph out until training camp with a hip injury and Ifetu Melifonwu continuing to gain positional knowledge, the Lions need both depth and experience. This could mean the Lions both draft a safety and sign a veteran in free agency after the draft.

Special teams (3)

Starters: Jack Fox (P), Michael Badgley (K), Scott Daly (LS)
Superior reserves: None

The Lions launched a competition for kickers and long snappers last offseason and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them take the same approach this year. Drafting a long snapper seems unlikely, but the right kicker could end up on the Lions draft board – or maybe he plays in the UFL?

At a Glance, Watch the Lions’ NFL Draft List Ahead of 2024

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