Predicting 2017 Lions Final Roster: Defense
The Lions wrapped up their first day of Organized Team Activities. As the veterans gear up for the new season, coaching and management must determine which faces will remain in Detroit come September. Allowing twenty-five players on offense, here are predictions for the other side of the ball.
Defensive End (5): Ezekiel Ansah, Kerry Hyder, Armonty Bryant, Cornelius Washington, Jeremiah Ledbetter
Ziggy Ansah is the only sure thing at this position, and he’s coming off an underwhelming season. The Lions did retain the services of Kerry Hyder, who led the team in sacks last year and projects as the starter opposite Ansah. Despite letting Devin Taylor hit the open market, the team brought in a number of fresh faces to rejuvenate their pass rush. Bryant, Washington, and rookie Ledbetter make the cut here, which leaves Anthony Zettel and seventh-rounder Pat O’Connor on the outside looking in. O’Connor, the career sacks leader at Eastern Michigan, could shake things up with a strong camp.
Defensive Tackle (5): Haloti Ngata, A’Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence, Jordan Hill, Khyri Thornton
Much like with defensive end, Detroit has an intriguing crop of talent at tackle. Each player here carries a level of uncertainty with him, particularly the aging Ngata. He, Robinson, and Thornton return for another year, while Spence and Hill signed with the club this spring to complete the rotation. Even though these guys have their question marks, the Lions have intriguing options for 2017.
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Linebacker (6): Jarrad Davis, Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Nick Bellore, Antwione Williams
Barring another injury-plagued season, the Lions appear set at linebacker. Bob Quinn has made his plans for Davis abundantly clear. The first-round pick will command the middle of this defense, though the rest of the group gets foggy. The only returning starter from last year, Whitehead, will likely start at “Sam” linebacker, which leaves a camp battle between Worrilow and Reeves-Maybin for the other outside spot. Bellore and Williams get relieving duties to round out the depth of this unit.
Cornerback (5): Darius Slay, Teez Tabor, D.J. Hayden, Nevin Lawson, Jamal Agnew
The only cornerback from last year guaranteed to return is Slay. After drafting two players at the same position, the Lions have put the rest of their secondary on notice. The competition will be fierce in the back end of this defense, and some talented guys might not survive cuts. Quandre Diggs, who started in the slot last year, has flashed potential; Alex Carter was a third-round pick just two years ago; Johnson Bademosi excels on special teams. A general manager loves the guys he brings in, though, and those are Tabor, Hayden, and Agnew.
Safety (4): Glover Quin, Miles Killebrew, Tavon Wilson, Don Carey
Another position ignored in the draft, safety should not shake up at all this summer. Quin and Wilson should start, Killebrew should push Wilson for a job, and Carey should continue to contribute as a special teams ace.