There is one Detroit Lions preseason game to go before their Thursday Week 1 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs to kick off the 2023 NFL season arrives. In that time, the team will have to cut down the current squad to make the 53-man roster for the upcoming season. There are several deep positions groups on the Lions' roster, which means that there will be some surprising names, including veteran running back Benny Snell, who won’t make the team.
RB Benny Snell
Veteran running back Benny Snell is a well-known name around the NFL after years as the backup for the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, with the depth that Detroit has in its RB group, Snell may find himself the odd man out ahead of the Lions’ Week 1 game.
Offseason free-agent signing David Montgomery and rookie first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs are locks to make the Lions roster when training camp and the preseason are over. Fullback Jason Cabinda will be there, too.
That means the final Lions roster spot at running back will go to Craig Reynolds, Jemar Jefferson, or Benny Snell.
Snell is the Lions’ leading rusher in the preseason, with 31 yards on nine carries. However, Jefferson out-touched him six carries to three in the second preseason game, and Reynolds caught four balls for 29 yards in that loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In the end, it’s that last stat that will help boot Snell off the Lions roster. Reynolds has proven to be a solid pass-catching, 3rd-down back out of the backfield, and he has more special teams value than Snell. That’s why Reynolds should be the third halfback on Detroit when the regular season begins.
WR Dylan Drummond
Jared Goff will have more offensive weapons than ever this upcoming season. In addition to the deep running back room discussed above, the wide receiver group has some excellent depth as well.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marvin Jones Jr., Josh Reynolds, and Kalif Raymond will all make the team in 2023, and 2021 first-round pick Jameson Williams will be back after his six-game gambling suspension.
This leaves one or two spots on the Lions roster for Week 1 for Dylan Drummond, Chase Cota, and Maurice Alexander.
Alexander, an undrafted free agent last season out of FIU, played four games in 2022 and had a stunning, spinning, 95-yard punt return in the Lions’ preseason opener vs. the New York Giants. Explosive plays like that could put him on the roster. However, he is dealing with a nagging, undisclosed injury right now.
Drummond is an undrafted free agent this offseason out of Eastern Michigan as is Cota out of Oregon. Both have had solid training camps and preseason performances. Drummond has four catches for 41 yards, and Cota has six grabs for 69 yards and a touchdown.
This may come down to WR styles, and Cota is 6-foot-4 while Drummond is 6-feet, much like several other Lions wideouts. Detroit would surely love to keep Drummond on the practice squad if he doesn’t make the team, but his potential could lead to another team signing him away.
OT Matt Nelson
The final area of the Lions’ offensive roster where battles are raging is along the offensive line. Offensive tackle Matt Nelson has been the team’s swing tackle for the last three seasons and even started 11 games in 2021.
However, as Detroit improves as a franchise, so does its depth at all positions. And with Taylor Decker and Pro Bowler Penei Sewell ensconced as the starters, the franchise borough in seven-year veteran Germain Ifedi to back those two up.
Ifedi has started 82 games in his NFL career for the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, and Atlanta Falcons. And at 29, he is an ideal replacement if either of the Lions’ bookends go down.
Nelson still has a chance to make the roster, but right now, it looks like Graham Glasgow, Colby Sorsdal, and Kayode Awosika will be the other linemen to make the finals Lions roster ahead of Week 1.