Detroit Lions Will Rely Heavily On Rookies This Season

Ross MaghielseCorrespondent IAugust 2, 2009

ALLEN PARK, MI - MAY 01:  Matt Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions talks with teammates during rookie orientation camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility on May 1, 2009 in Allen Park, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Matthew Stafford is going to be under center for the Detroit Lions at some point this season. It's the classic forgone conclusion which comes with being the No. 1 overall pick.


Sure, veteran Daunte Culpepper will draw consideration from the coaching staff, and maybe get the nod to start week one. But he will be sitting by season's end.


Yet, Stafford is not the only rookie Detroit will rely on this season. All 10 of Detroit's 2009 draft choices have signed contracts with the team. Many agreed to multi-year deals.


First-round pick Brandon Pettigrew was the last to put his name on the dotted line, and he too will shoulder much responsibility this year. Petttigrew was projected as the best tight end in this year's draft class, and he is without a doubt the best on Detroit's roster.


Other rookies with a chance to start are safety Louis Delmas and wide receiver Derrick Williams (as a return specialist).


Even the previously unknown defensive tackle from Stillman College, Sammie Hill, should get considerable playing time this season backing up veterans Grady Jackson and Chuck Darby.


Half of Jim Schwartz's (who is a rookie in his own right) first team depth chart could be filled with players who have been in the league three years or fewer.


Ah to be young.


The challenge will be developing the team's youth into Pro-Bowl caliber talent. An area where former coaches in Detroit have failed miserably.


Schwartz has maintained he will not announce a formal depth chart until the end of training camp, and possibly not until the start of the regular season.


“I don't want to close my mind,” Schwartz said in a statement on the team's website. “I think it's unfair to the guys that are here fighting for roster spots; it's unfair to the guys that are competing for starting positions for me in my mind to already pencil guys in.”


Regardless what players stand where on Detroit's depth chart, with 10 rookies signed and most expected to make the final 53-man roster, the Lions will be running with young legs this season.


Detroit's first preseason game is August 15th against the Cleveland Browns.