Ahead of their matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs to open their season and the whole NFL season, the Detroit Lions have released their unofficial depth chart. Typically, you take these with a grain of salt, but it gives us a glimpse of who potentially might end up starting come game time.
In the quarterback room, there were no surprises with Jared Goff as the starter and Teddy Bridgewater as the backup. The Lions gave the veterans the nod over the rookies, which showed with the running backs and the tight ends. They have David Montgomery ahead of Jahymr Gibbs and Brock Wright ahead of Sam LaPorta. I wouldn’t read too much into that, as I can see an equal share for the rookies, if no higher.
The one question concerning the offensive line heading into the season was if Halapoulivaati Vaitai would nab the starting right guard slot over Graham Glasgow, and it looks like he grabbed that starting role. Vaitai’s injuries have sidelined him, leaving many unanswered questions, but it looks like we will finally get to see the full potential of the Lions’ offensive line.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, and Marvin Jones show up as the starting receivers to round out the offense. They have Kalif Raymond slotted behind Reynolds on the depth chart, but the splits surrounding the receiver corps will be something to monitor.
Heading into the defense, they have the starting defensive line as Charlies Harris, and Aidan Hutchinson on the edges and Alim McNeil and Isaiah Buggs up the middle. With Buggs missing practice, it might mean the next man up for Benito Jones at nose tackle, and Brodric Martin sits as the third man in that rotation. I wouldn’t read too much into that starting line, as the Lions should be bringing in a constant rotation with the number of playmakers for the line.
With how camp and preseason played out, the starting linebackers are not a surprise, with Derrick Barnes and Alex Anzalone with Jack Campbell right behind them. It is the same in the cornerback department, with Cam Sutton and Jerry Jacobs manning the outside and Emmanuel Mosley being Sutton on the depth chart.
Probably the biggest start throughout camp and preseason was Brian Branch, and considering how well he performed, it was going to be tough for the Lions to keep him off the field, and it shows in the depth chart. The Lions have him listed as the starting nickel corner, pushing C.J. Gardner-Johnson to safety and putting Tracy Walker lower on the depth chart.
As for special teams, they have Kalif Raymond as the starting punt and kick-off returner. He should stay as the punt returner, but we may see someone different at kick-offs.
There are not too many surprises with the Lions release of their unofficial depth chart. They showed veteran presence on the offensive side, and it was good to see Vaitai getting the starting nod. On defense, the secondary became interesting, with Branch earning the starting nickel spot, which honestly shouldn’t have shocked anyone. The Lions will ensure they get the players who earned their role on the field.