American Football

Detroit Lions depth chart: Pre-2023 NFL draft edition


Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC

A closer look at how the Detroit Lions roster stacks up ahead of the 2023 NFL draft.

The 2023 NFL Draft is only hours away and for those looking for a refresher on where the Detroit Lions roster sits, here’s a quick breakdown of the team’s depth chart before the main event.

Keep in mind, teams’ rosters are expanded to up to 90 players during the offseason. Currently, the Lions have 68 players under contract and nine draft picks. That means Detroit will likely be active in the undrafted free agent and unrestricted free agent markets following the draft, as they may need to add an additional 13 or so players, beyond those drafted.

Quarterback (2)

Starter: Jared Goff
Top reserve: Nate Sudfeld
Depth: None

It seems logical that the Lions will certainly add at least one rookie to the quarterback’s room in this draft. It’s possible the Lions look at the position early, late, or even in the UDFA pool of players. If the Lions don’t draft a quarterback with a chance to compete in 2023, Detroit has a “strong offer” in place for Teddy Bridgewater.

Running back (5)

Co-Starters: David Montgomery and D’Andre Swift
Top reserve: Craig Reynolds
Depth: Jamaal Jefferson, Greg Bell

The Lions could go into the season with this crew, but with Swift in a contract year and Reynolds a restricted free agent in 2024, the Lions may invest in the position early in the draft with the future in mind.

Wide receiver (9)

Starters: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Marvin Jones
Top reserves: Jameson Williams, Kalif Raymond
Depth: Trinity Benson, Tom Kennedy, Maurice Alexander, Stanley Berryhill

Jameson Williams’ six-game suspension will leave him out of the starting lineup for now, and while the Lions’ singing of Marvin Jones helps the depth of the starting group, there is still a long-term need at the position. Only Williams and Pro Bowler Amon-Ra St. Brown are signed for the 2024 season, at this time.

Tight end/Fullback (5)

Starters: Brock Wright, Jason Cabinda (FB)
Top reserves: Shane Zylstra, James Mitchell
Depth: Derrick Deese Jr.

Like wide receiver and running back, the Lions could roll into the season with this group and be completely fine, but with only Mitchell signed next season (both Wright and Zylstra are restricted free agents, while Cabinda is an unrestricted free agent) this is a position that could get some early attention.

Offensive line (12)

Starters: Taylor Decker (LT), Jonah Jackson (LG), Frank Ragnow (C), Halapoulivaati Vaitai (RG), Penei Sewell (RT)
Top reserves: Graham Glasgow (IOL), Kayode Awosika (G), Matt Nelson (OT/G)
Depth: Obinna Eze (OT), Logan Stenberg (G), Ross Pierschbacher (C), Darrin Paulo (G/T)

With Vaitai looking healthy and Glasgow back in the fold, the Lions’ offensive line looks like it could be potentially stronger than it was last season. But with Vaitai, Glasgow, and Jackson all in the final year of their contracts, the Lions would be wise to add depth prospects/guards with 2024 starting capabilities to the group.

Interior defensive line (5)

Starters: Alim McNeill, Isaiah Buggs
Top reserves: Levi Onwuzurike, Benito Jones
Depth: Demetrius Taylor

This is pretty much the game-day group the Lions rolled with last season, save Onwuzurike who was on injured reserve. But despite all the contributors returning, this was a group that struggled last season—though they did get much better later on in the year—and is in dire need of some depth. This is arguably the team’s biggest need and it would not be surprising to see them address the position early in the draft.

EDGE (7)

Starters: Aidan Hutchinson, John Cominsky, James Houston (SAM)
Top reserves: Josh Paschal, Romeo Okwara, Charles Harris
Depth: Julian Okwara (SAM)

The Lions are seven deep in edge rushers, with Hutchinson, Cominsky, and Paschal signed through next season, along with Houston being an exclusive right free agent—meaning he is almost sure to return. That gives the Lions strong depth options now and in the future at this position. That being said, in order to stay strong, it’s important to invest on the edge—especially with how frequently some of them kick inside—and that leaves this as a spot the Lions could add talent at during the draft.

Linebacker (5)

Starters: Alex Anzalone, Malcolm Rodriguez
Top reserve: Derrick Barnes
Depth: Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Anthony Pittman

The Lions kept six off-the-ball linebackers active on game days last season, three players for defense, and the other three for mainly special teams. Despite only having five linebackers signed, they’re in a pretty solid spot. The Lions return all three of their top defenders, as well as Pittman—who is a staple on special teams—, then brought back Reeves-Maybin, a former Lions special teams captain. There’s room for more depth—or players with special skills—but there is not as pressing a need as most think.

Corner (5)

Starters: Cameron Sutton, Emanuel Moseley
Top reserve: Jerry Jacobs
Depth: Mac McCain, Jarren Williams

The Lions’ top three outside corners look solid on paper, but Moseley is coming off an ACL tear and only Sutton is signed beyond this season. That leaves this as a position of need, despite the heavy investment this offseason. Adding a player that can give the Lions depth, as well as challenge for a starting role would be a smart decision.

Nickel/Dime (4)

Starters: C.J. Gardner-Johnson (NB/S)
Top reserves: Will Harris (NB/S), Chase Lucas (NB)
Depth: Khalil Dorery (NB)

Just like on the outside, the Lions have a lot of solid talent in the slot, but only one player (Lucas) is signed beyond this season. The Lions may consider adding a player with safety/slot range, but finding playing time for them in 2023 may prove difficult with the contributors already in the mix.

Safety (5)

Starters: Tracy Walker, Kerby Joseph
Top reserves: Ifeatu Melifonwu, Saivion Smith
Depth: Brady Breeze

With Walker looking like he is almost fully recovered from his Achilles injury, safety is one of the more complete groups on the roster. There is room for one more depth piece, after the release of C.J. Moore, but snaps may be hard to come by. If they do add a safety, expect that player to come with the range of lining up in the slot.

Special teams (4)

Starters: Jack Fox (P), Michael Badgley (K), Scott Daly (LS)
Top reserves: Jake McQuaide (LS)

Will the Lions draft a kicker? It’s an interesting debate and impossible to tell. But one way or another, the Lions are expected to add competition for Badgley.

At a glance look at the Lions’ pre-draft roster

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