In only a few weeks the Lions, along with the rest of the NFL teams, will be required to cut their rosters of 90 players down to 53 (in two stages). So who makes the Lions team and why? By the way, I've been doing this for years, the best so far is 48 right and the worst was 43... I plan to hit a new record in accuracy this year.
First, some old business. A couple of posts down (http://thenetrat.blogspot.com/2011/07/free-agency-is-almost-here.html) I made my free agency predictions, before the final CBA (http://www.thenetrat.com/cba-2011-2020.pdf) was ever approved. I listed 6 cornerbacks and 4 linebackers with one of each group as my primary pick and one of each group as my long shot pick. So, how did I do? At cornerback I missed my primary pick when Josh Wilson signed with the Washington Redskins, but just below his name was one Eric Wright. At linebacker my primary pick was Justin Durant... NAILED IT... but not only that, my long shot pick was Stephen Tulloch, nailed THAT ONE too!!! What does this have to do with my estimated Lions roster for 2011? Well, when you look at my depth chart, you will see 3 new starters on it from Free Agency, and all 3 of them were those picks.
Barring injury, I think the Lions are all set with their starters, on offense, defense and special teams (Kicker, Punter and Long Snapper). Now if one of the other players happens to play lights out and takes a job away, so much the better for the team and for us fans. These guys definitely make the team:
Kyle Vanden Bosch
There are a number of backups that are near locks to make the roster (again barring injury or trade).
Sammie Lee Hill
Then there are the few roster spots that are being highly contested, not by just players in their own player group, but by players in other groups as well. The proverbial bottom 10 of the roster.
Guys like Derrick Williams are not only fighting off the other WRs but also the RBs as the team looks at who to keep and who not to (or who to try and trade for more picks next year).
Others who are competing against their own position group as well as the rest of the team include Randy Phillips, Jerome Harrison, Michael Bell, Ian Johnson, Aaron Brown, Doug Hogue, Cobrani Mixon, Maurice Stovall, and Brandon McDonald.
There are also positions that will be filled regardless of other positions, such as backup guard and/or backup center. I've a hunch Niswanger and Thomas take those spots due to flexibility to play either Guard and Tackle or Guard and Center.
It's a lot easier to see all these names on a depth chart/spreadsheet with some color coding and a list of players fighting for roster spots. My sheet is online at http://www.theNetRat.com/depthchart.html... and you may enter changes to it then save it to your computer or print it if you wish (you are not allowed to post it online elsewhere, but you may link to it). I love to use it to play "what if" when it comes to making roster predictions. Just some pointers for you, keep the offense and the defense between 24 and 26 players each, along with the kicker, punter and long snapper to make 53 total. The Lions have never gone below 24 players on one side of the ball for more then 2 days (since I've been tracking it).
Oh, and one more piece of old news, KVB re-worked his contract freeing up $2.46 million in salary cap. The Lions are now at approximately $4.612 million under the cap based on the information I currently have.
Time to watch the first pre-season game... then make my final changes to my estimated depth chart before I lock it in to see how I do on final cut-down day. (The only changes I'll be making between Sunday and final cut-down day are for new pick-ups, injuries, and the like).