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Predicting Detroit Lions' 1st Wave of Roster Cuts

Brandon AlisogluCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2014

Predicting Detroit Lions' 1st Wave of Roster Cuts

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Training camp is a time of optimism for fans and players, but reality is going to crush 15 current members of the Detroit Lions roster.

    Every team is allowed to enter training camp with 90 guys. Eventually, they have to cut down to 53 players for the regular season. However, two days before the final preseason game (August 26), teams are required to pare down the roster to 75.

    To add an element of fun to an otherwise drab occasion, I've grouped the players into categories that explain why they're likely to be cut and how close they are to the roster bubble.

Your Coffee Is Cold

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Wide receiver Andrew Peacock, wide receiver Quintin Payton and punter Drew Butler

    For these three, the Players Association's assertion that the average career lasts 3.3 years seems like a bold proclamation. So I had no choice but to use the tired cup-of-coffee reference that defines a short sting of employment.

    Both wide receivers were extremely long shots to make the practice squad, much less the active roster. Drops have been a serious issue for Andrew Peacock, who doesn't have the height or explosiveness to overcome it. And, in that same linked report, fellow Bleacher Reporter Jeff Risdon lets us in on some insider knowledge that Quintin Payton's stay was never intended to last very long.

    As for Drew Butler, it almost seemed cruel to bring him in.

    Drew Butler might be gone very soon. Botched a time kill drill in end zone, Caldwell yelled at him hard.

    — Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) August 1, 2014

    Hopefully, he learned a thing or two during his short stint in Detroit. Sam Martin was excellent throughout his rookie season, and there was no chance he was going to get beat out by anyone.

Thanks for the Camp Body

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Defensive tackle Gregory Hickman, offensive guard Darren Keyton and defensive end Kris Redding

    Franchises invite guys to training camp with the notion that the players won't make it to the regular season. In fact, the front offices are quite certain some of them won't slip past the first round of cuts.

    And that's fine. Good teams constantly churn the bottom of their rosters because occasionally everything clicks for a player and the team unearths a gem.

    Yet, the gentlemen above don't appear to fall into that exclusive category.

    As with everyone on this list, there's still time to rebound, but none of the numerous tweets and reports flowing from camp have mentioned Gregory Hickman, Darren Keyton or Kris Redding. That's not good news, because flying under the radar means they'll be looking for a new job come August 26. 

It's Not You, It's Me

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Cornerback Chris Greenwood, running back George Winn and wide receiver Reese Wiggins

    The Chris Greenwood tease is close to its end. The 6'1" cornerback who posted a 4.34 40-yard dash at the 2012 combine sat out the majority of OTAs and minicamp due to a hernia injury, per MLive's Kyle Meinke, and it's obvious he's fallen behind.

    The new coaching staff brought in four new cornerbacks this summer to compete with Greenwood and the other incumbents. Without the benefit of those early practices, Greenwood's path to the roster is probably impassible due to Jonte Green's performance thus far. 

    Greenwood's natural abilities might land him a shot on another practice squad, but it's tough to see how he can beat out the other guys on the roster. There are too many better options.

    The same goes for running back George Winn and wide receiver Reese Wiggins. The backfield suddenly looks loaded with Theo Riddick's breakout summer, leaving Winn the tough task of beating out Mikel Leshoure or Montell Owens.

    As for Wiggins, this is his second team in the past month. He's fighting an uphill battle against veterans and explosive youngsters who have the benefit of exposure to the system.

Keep Your Phone on

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Cornerback Mohammed Seisay, strong safety Jerome Couplin and linebacker Justin Jackson

    The active roster was always a long shot for these undrafted free agents. The reality is that the second cut might be equally as distant.

    There has been at least one positive account of Seisay's play thus far, with Risdon praising his "knack for jumping routes." If the rookie can keep making plays, he could survive the first cut, but the crowded depth chart ahead of him probably means he'll be relegated to the practice squad.

    Similarly, Jackson and Couplin are probably too far down the chart to think about breaking into the round of 75.

    In the above-referenced Risdon article, the DetroitLionsDraft.com writer compared Couplin to Bears safety Chris Conte. That's not a compliment. The comparison was prompted by the rookie's bad habit of continuing to backpedal even when the ball has already been thrown in front of him.

    As for Jackson, no news is bad news. You can't find anything about him anywhere on social media or from traditional news outlets.

    Luckily, Jackson (39.5", 4.66 seconds) and Couplin (41.5", 4.55 seconds) both boast verticals that drop jaws and have solid speed, according to NFLDraftScout.com. That type of athletic potential is exactly what teams look for when stocking their practice squads.

On the Bubble

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Quarterback James Franklin, defensive tackle Xavier Proctor and quarterback Kellen Moore

    Proctor could have fallen on the "Camp Body" slide, but he has a better chance of making the roster than the players mentioned there. However, he will need an overpowering preseason to prove he belongs over once-again Lion Andre Fluellen and fifth-round pick Caraun Reid.

    Now for the fun part—the Lions aren't carrying three quarterbacks into the regular season unless Dan Orlovsky is at the bottom of the depth chart. And he won't be supplanted by Moore or Franklin.

    Kellen Moore throwing very high and to the outside of a wide open Payton.

    — Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 2, 2014

    Moore isn't Peyton Manning. He can't overcome a noodle arm and isn't going to regain any zip like last year's MVP because he didn't have any to start with. Considering the coaching staff that groomed him thus far has scattered throughout the league, it's hard to see why the Lions would continue to use a roster spot on someone else's project.

    Additionally, Franklin's versatility isn't going to get him through to the next round of cuts either. His lack of polish is so telling, it led to this quote from MLive's Justin Rogers:

    We mentioned him earlier this week, but backup safety DeJon Gomes came up with another interception, stepping in front of a James Franklin pass intended for Brandon Pettigrew. While you have to downgrade the play because of who was throwing the ball, there's no question Gomes is off to a strong start in camp.

    That's probably the most "positive" account I've seen about Franklin's play. The Lions have one third quarterback on the roster. He just isn't occupying the position.

     

    Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions Featured Columnist who has written about the Lions on multiple sites. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcast, Lions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter about how wrong he is @BrandonAlisoglu.

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