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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    Ndamukong Suh

    Nick Fairley

    Corey Williams

    Sammie Lee Hill

    "Nuff said."

Defensive End (4)

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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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