Paul Sancya/Associated Press
Right Tackle: LaAdrian Waddle vs. Corey Hilliard
Corey Hilliard isn't going to accept a backup role without a fight. Hilliard earned his starting role once Jason Fox went down last year. He didn't do anything particularly well, but he must have shown something that the other contenders didn't considering he was the unquestioned starter until he got hurt.
Second-year LaAdrian Waddle has become a fan favorite by virtue of his undrafted beginning and solid showing in five of his eight starts. But as well as he played at times, he also posted performances that fell below the mark (eight combined hurries and hits against Pittsburgh). Then again, he was a rookie who was learning on the job.
In sum, Waddle logged 100 more snaps than Hilliard and never conceded a single sack. He did, however, allow seven more quarterback hits (Hilliard only gave up one) and three more hurries (17 to 14).
Second Cornerback: Rashean Mathis vs. the Field
Darius Slay is firmly entrenched as a starter. He earned the role in training camp last year and has looked good enough this offseason to suspend all suspense.
Who will line up opposite him is a question that won't be answered until sometime in late August.
Rashean Mathis was Detroit's best corner last year by any metric, but he doesn't have the upside or youth of his competitors. Bill Bentley is right in that perfect nexus of youth and experience to grab the spot. Cornerbacks take a few years to develop, and Bentley's career arc could see a huge bump this year. But aside from a few good games, we don't have a concrete read on him either way.
Rookie Nevin Lawson and pseudo-veteran Cassius Vaughn have to be mentioned in any cornerback competition as well as long-term fan-teasers Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood. But either inexperience or ineptitude will likely keep them all fighting for a roster spot and not a starting one.
Third Wide Receiver: Jeremy Ross vs. Kris Durham vs. Kevin Ogletree vs. Ryan Broyles
The most wide-open race includes no fewer than four challengers with a fifth who is starting the season on the PUP list (T.J. Jones).
Veterans Kris Durham and Kevin Ogletree have each had shining moments in the league but last season painted the picture of an unreliable duo (14 dropped passes and only 59 catches). Jeremy Ross excited fans with his electrifying returns, but he had a grand total of six catches last season.
If healthy, Ryan Broyles should have the inside track because of his talent, but the if-healthy caveat is a big one considering his last three seasons have ended in leg injuries.