2011 Detroit Lions 54-Man Roster: You Make the Last Cut

Michael SuddsCorrespondent IMay 16, 2011

2011 Detroit Lions 54-Man Roster: You Make the Last Cut

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    Is MoMo your no no?
    Is MoMo your no no?Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Without free agency, or signings of any kind, it seemed to be an act of futility to project a 53 man Lions roster. 

    Upon further review, projecting the Lions 53 man roster made sense for a couple of reasons. First, we can view this roster and gain some insight into possible free agent targets.

    Second, we will see how far the Lions have come since cutting this roster down was much more difficult than it was last season.

    Some of the cuts I made were brutal.  When I got down to 54 players I had a sadistic little idea: Let the fans decide who to cut!

    So, it's up to you, Lions fans.  You make the choice.  Feel free to chime in on any free agents that you feel will be an upgrade.

    Like you have something better to do during the lockout?

Quarterback (3)

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    DETROIT - NOVEMBER 7: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the game against the New York Jets at Ford Field on November 7, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Matthew Stafford

    Shaun Hill

    Drew Stanton

    Until the Lions have some assurances as to Stafford's durability, they will continue to keep three QBs. 

    Could the Lions sign another veteran QB and cut Stanton?  I suppose anything is possible, but this scenario seems a bit too rich for my taste.

Running Back (4)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 17: Jahvid Best #44 of the Detroit Lions rushes against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 17, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Jahvid Best

    Mikel Leshoure

    Aaron Brown

    Maurice Morris

    Is this position set?  Or, will the Lions do some tweaking?  While we know that Best and Leshoure will share the vast majority of the workload, do you see some platooning possibilities here? 

    I suspect that one, or even two more RBs will be in camp to compete with Brown and Morris.

Fullback (1)

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    MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Quarterback Shaun Hill #14 of the Detroit Lions hands off to Jerome Felton #45 against the Minnesota Vikings during the game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 26, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Jeff Gros
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Jerome Felton

    Question: Did the acquisition of RB Mikel Leshoure mitigate the need for a FB?  Will Felton be your Huckleberry?

    Personally, I see a jumbo package with Felton and Leshoure in tandem.

    Felton has a few good pages in the playbook and might get a couple more.

Center (2)

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    DENVER - AUGUST 21:  Center Dominic Raiola #51 of the Detroit Lions leads his team onto the field to face the Denver Broncos during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 21, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Lions defeated the Broncos 2
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Dominic Raiola

    Dylan Gandy

    Raiola became a lightning rod for the angst of the fans in 2010, and the displeasure at the Lions' front office hasn't dissipated in the 2011 post-draft non season. 

    Obviously, the Lions did not see any draft prospects worth developing.  Could there be a free agent target out there?

    Is Gandy ready to step in?  I don't think so, but how much of a drop-off in talent can there be when we consider the horrible year that Raiola had.

Offensive Guard (4)

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    GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 03: B.J. Raji #90 of the Green Bay Packers rushes against Rob Sims #67 of the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on October 3, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 28-26. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Rob Sims

    Stephen Peterman

    Donald Thomas

    Johnny Culbreath

    Sims is the only lock as the starting RG.  Peterman is a question mark after two major surgeries since 2009.  If Peterman can return to his 2009 form, the Lions will have a more productive rushing game.  Thomas and Culbreath are projects for offensive line coach George Yarno to build.

    "Hey George, whatcha doing?"

    "I'm building me some guards."

    "Oh, OK.  Uh, George, can you pick up the pace, or is this you're hobby?"

    "Smart ass!"

    Fans are split on the need for a free agent.  I would give Peterman a year to fail.  If 2011 is a repeat of 2010, Peterman could be gone long before the trade deadline.

Offensive Tackle (4)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 17: Jeff Backus #76 of the Detroit Lions against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 17, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Jeff Backus

    Gosder Cherilus

    Jason Fox

    Corey Hilliard

    Another Lions hot button topic.  Backus is coming off his best year after being teamed up with OG Rob Sims.

    Cherilus is a big question mark due to injury and performance concerns.  Has Gosder topped out, or will we see some incremental improvement in his game?

    Cherilus had better get better, or he will have to give me back the Bozo Decoder Ring I loaned him.

    Fox and Hilliard stepped in late in the 2010 season.  They weren't terrible, were they? 

    There has been much speculation regarding free agents on the O-line.  Do we stay with this group?

Tight End (3)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 17: Brandon Pettigrew #84 of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball under pressure from Deon Grant #34 of the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 17, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Brandon Pettigrew

    Tony Scheffler

    Will Heller

    This position looks to be set for the immediate future. 

    Detroit will benefit if Pettigrew can eliminate some of those dropped passes.  Prozac and electroshock therapy should get the job done.

    Scheffler will benefit from another year in the system—I hope.

    Heller rounds out the mix nicely, but has he become expendable with the addition of Mikel Leshoure?

Wide Receiver (5)

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions catches a touchdown pass in the last minute of the game against the Buffalo Bills  at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 14, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 14-12. (Photo by
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Calvin Johnson

    Nate Burleson

    Titus Young

    Derrick Williams

    Michael Moore

    I know, you are saying "Williams?  C'mon, man?" 

    I wanted to cut Williams, and keep Toone, but they will battle it out for a roster spot.

    Don't be surprised if the Lions bring in some fresh meat to push Williams and Moore.

Defensive Tackle (4)

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    DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 02:  Joe Webb #14 of the Minnesota Vikings runs around the tackle of Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Ndamukong Suh

    Nick Fairley

    Corey Williams

    Sammie Lee Hill

    "Nuff said."

Defensive End (4)

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 19:  Defensive end Cliff Avril #92 of the Detroit Lions sacks quarterback Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Cliff Avril

    Lawrence Jackson

    Kyle Vanden Bosch

    Turk McBride

    Surprised to see LoJack ranked ahead of KVB?  Don't be.  According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson graded much higher than Vanden Bosch.

    McBride also did an excellent job in relief.

    If the Lions can rotate these four the way they plan to rotate the DTs, it's lights out.

Linebacker (6)

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    CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 6: Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws under pressure from DeAndre Levy #54 of the Detroit Lions in their NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium December 6, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Image
    John Sommers II/Getty Images

    DeAndre Levy

    Ashlee Palmer

    Bobby Carpenter

    Zack Follett

    Vinnie Ciurciu

    Doug Hogue

    Levy is the only bona fide starter in this rather ragtag group.  Will the Lions trade future draft choices for help?

    Will Follett return?

    Ciurciu is the only credible depth at MLB.

    Hogue is a project.

    So many questions and so few answers on the horizon.

Cornerback (5)

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Chris Houston #23 of the Detroit Lions unsuccesfully tries to intercept a pass intended for Lee Evans #83 of the Buffalo Bills  at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 14, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 14-12. (Pho
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Chris Houston

    Alphonso Smith

    Nathan Vasher

    Aaron Berry

    Jack Williams

    Nowhere on the team is there more trepidation—or more questions, for that matter.

    Will the Lions make a Nnamdi splash in free agency?

    Will Houston be signed to a big free-agent contract?

    Will the Lions continue the "Gong Show" auditions in 2011?

Safety (5)

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    DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 12:  Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions leaves the field celebrating a 7-3 victory over the Green Bay Packers on December 12, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Louis Delmas

    Amari Spievey

    Eric Coleman

    John Wendling

    Randy Phillips

    The case could be made that Spievey might get another shot at a CB spot.  Coleman will challenge him at the FS position.

    Wendling, the special teams ace, adds depth.

    Will Randy Phillips advance his stock with a great offseason?

    As a group, they got better with the signing of Coleman, and have decent depth.

    Would another quality free agent hurt?  That's what I thought.

Special Teams (4)

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 19:  Kicker Dave Rayner #3 of the Detroit Lions kicks the winning field goal in overtime against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Image
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    PK—Dave Rayner

    P—Nick Harris

    Return Specialist—Stefan Logan

    Long Snapper—Don Muhlbach

    Replacing PK Jason Hanson with Dave Rayner will be a shock, but after some injuries it's time to make the change.

Say Goodbye to Some Familiar Players

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    DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions looks on while playing the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on January 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 20-13.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Some of my cuts were brutal.  Some, not so much.

    Some familiar names that we will miss, or not:

    RB Kevin Smith, WR Bryant Johnson, LB Caleb Campbell, WR Tim Toone, DT Andre Fluellen, LB Landon Johnson, LB Isaiah Ekejuiba, CB Prince Miller, CB Paul Pratt, CB Tye Hill, FS C.C. Brown and PK Jason Hanson.

    Of the above players, Caleb Campbell and Jason Hanson have the best shots at winning a roster spot.

    Depending upon how active the Lions are in free agency, some even tougher cuts loom.  As David Feherty once quipped: "This here is tougher than picking a broken nose."

    One thing I know for certain is that the tougher the cut, the better the team.

    So, who's your last cut?  I have some ideas, but I'd like to hear what say thee.

     

    Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.  Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com