Detroit Lions 53-man roster projection includes No. 2 pick Aidan Hutchinson and battle at wide receiver

DETROIT – The Detroit Lions open the 2022 regular season against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 11 at Ford Field.

The Lions are trying to rebuild under coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes, both in their second year. While there is certainly competition between positional units, the Lions are committed to bringing him back with their core from last season: quarterback Jared Goff, running back D’Andre Swift, l tight end TJ Hockenson, receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and safety Tracy Marcheur. They also added young talent such as second overall pick Aidan Hutchinson at defensive end.

The receiving corps was one of the weak spots last season, but they have bolstered the talent in that position. A few interesting names to watch during training camp will be the battle between Trinity Benson and Quintez Cephus for a receiver spot.

QUARTERBACK (3): Jared Goff, David Blough, Tim Boyle

Clearly Jared Goff is the Lions guy. When they didn’t go for a quarterback in the draft, it reassured the team that committed to him as a starter. The biggest question during training camp will be who can become QB2, with replacements Blough and Boyle looking to prove themselves once again.

BACK TO RUNNING (4): By André Swift, Jamaal Williams, Craig Reynolds, Jason Cabinda (FB)

Swift and Williams are pretty much locks as running backs after splitting the touches last season with their dual-threat abilities. However, Swift has a history of groin and shoulder injuries, so he will need to maintain strong backup options on deck. Reynolds has proven he can step up, if needed, like last season when he went from practice squad to rush for nearly 200 yards in back-to-back games.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): DJ Chark Jr., Josh Reynolds, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond

The receiving corps was often criticized last season for its lack of talent. They caught 24.5% of their tight window goals last season according to NFL Next Gen Stats, which was third worst in the NFL. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case at the start of this season, especially with the addition of Chark, but everyone is also anticipating a big leap for St. Brown in Year 2. Campbell praised Trinity Benson for his hard work this offseason, but Quintez Cephus has proven he’s capable of making big plays in games and will likely get the nod.

CLAMP (3): TJ Hockenson, Devin Funchess, James Mitchell

There isn’t much competition there, with Hockenson returning as one of the faces of the franchise. Detroit made a surprise move by moving former wide receiver Devin Funchess to the short end, which could add an extra play on offense. The Lions need to have depth in this role, with Mitchell also coming off an ACL injury.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Penei Sewell, Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Jonah Jackson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Evan Brown, Matt Nelson, Tommy Kraemer, Dan Skipper

Detroit’s offensive line is expected to be the bright spot on the list. There are no surprises with any of these names. Sewell, the seventh pick in the 2021 draft, is expected to take a big leap forward this season after a promising rookie campaign. He’s surrounded by a ton of veterans to help him along the way, like Decker and Ragnow. Now the unit will have to live up to the early hype.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Aidan Hutchinson, Michael Brockers, Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, Charles Harris, Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, James Houston, Josh Paschal

The Lions have finished in the bottom five in rushing percentage in each of the past six seasons. They also finished 29th in rushing percentage and 30th in sacks last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. So obviously that’s a problem. By adding Hutchinson, the Lions are committed to improving on the edge.

LINEBACKER(5): Austin Bryant, Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Jarrad Davis, Malcolm Rodriguez

The Lions allowed 1,070 rushing yards after first contact last season, which was the second-highest total of any team in the past 10 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard will be on his side to try and push the guys to improve in that area, with Anzalone and Barnes looking to be unit leaders.

CORNER BACK (6): Jeff Okudah, Jerry Jacobs, Amani Oruwariye, Mike Hughes, Ifetu Melifonwu, AJ Parker

All eyes will be on former overall number 3 Okudah as he seeks to recover from a season-ending Achilles injury he suffered last term. There are still a lot of questions about who he is as a player at the NFL level, and the Lions staff remain patient during his rehab process while pushing other guys like Jacobs and Oruwariye to improve.

SAFETY (5): Tracy Walker, Kerby Joseph, DeShon Elliott, Will Harris, CJ Moore

Walker is committed to being the top safety on the roster, which is why he was re-signed this offseason to a three-year, $25 million deal. The secondary Lions will also need the help of others in safety. The Lions are the only team to give up 100 touchdown passes in the past three seasons combined (102). They also intercepted 25 passes during that span, tied with the Raiders, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

SPECIALISTS (3): Scott Daly, Jack Fox, Austin Seibert

Fox was named Pro Bowler at punter in 2020, in addition to being named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September 2020. He’s looking to headline that group with Daly at long snapper and Seibert at kicker.

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