Ranking the 2022 Detroit Lions 89-man roster: Players 50-41

Ranking the 2022 Detroit Lions 89-man roster: Players 50-41

We’re onto the very middle of the Detroit Lions roster in our countdown from player 89 to the player we’ve collectively ranked as the No. 1 player on the team. Most of these players are likely entering training camp with a spot on the roster, but they should not be considered untouchable. Many of these names you’ll see on our Bubble Watch series over the next month. Some may even be on the outside looking in.

But just about every single one of these players has a very realistic chance of impacting the 2022 Lions, and every single player listed below either improved his ranking from last year or is new to these rankings.

Let’s take a closer look at the players we ranked from 50 to 41.

Previously:

50. CB Chase Lucas (Highest ranking: 40; Lowest ranking: 56)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

This is the second appearance of a Lions 2022 draft pick, with James Houston coming in just behind him at No. 51. The reasoning for Lucas jumping into the top-50 over Houston despite being picked later in the draft is simple: Lucas has a much easier path to the roster. As a five-year starter, Lucas is well-seasoned, and that showed on the practice field this spring, when we was well ahead of the other corners on the third team defense. Additionally, Detroit’s nickel job is far from settled. While Lucas is likely a long-shot to be Detroit’s Week 1 starter, I wouldn’t count him out completely.

49. TE Brock Wright (Highest: 44; Lowest: 52)

Last year’s ranking: 69

As Detroit continues to try and figure out how to complement T.J. Hockenson in the tight end room, Wright developed the most last season. Lions tight end coach Tanner Engstrand remarked on Wright’s growth in 2021.

“Last year, I mean, he kinda came into OTAs, nobody really knew much about him and shoot, he starts, what like the last eight games of the year or something like that. And he did a heck of a job. It’s a credit to him just really of his hard work and really his ability to absorb information and be a coachable kid. He’s just done a phenomenal job for us.”

The drafting of James Mitchell may push Wright down in the depth chart, but he’s entering training camp as the favorite for TE3.

48. K Riley Patterson (Highest: 17; Lowest: 64)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

The Lions plucked Patterson from the Patriots’ practice squad midseason in 2021, and the rookie kicker made 10 straight field goals for Detroit. His only missed kick of the season was a 55-yarder at the end of a half. He finished 13-of-14 on field goals and 16-of-16 on extra points. There are some cause for concerns, though. Patterson did not make a kick beyond 49 yards last season, and both he and Austin Seibert struggled with accuracy in OTAs this year.

Note: If you’re wondering who voted Patterson as the 17th best player, it may or may not have been the writer among us who has a strong affinity for special teams—specifically kicking.

47. RB Godwin Igwebuike (Highest: 28; Lowest: 51)

Last year’s ranking: 74

Last year, Igwebuike took on the tough endeavor of moving from safety to running back and managed to win himself a roster spot and climb nearly 30 spots in our rankings. Igwebuike really shined as a kick returner for the Lions last year, averaging 24.9 yards per return—good for fourth best in the NFL (minimum five returns).

Igwebuike also looked strong as a rusher early in the season, including this fantastic 42-yard touchdown run.

However, down the stretch, he struggled with fumbles (two in his final three games) and efficiency.

46. RB Jermar Jefferson (Highest: 31; Lowest: 51)

Last year’s ranking: 50

Jefferson barely edges out Igwebuike in these rankings despite a minimal impact last season. The Lions’ 2021 seventh-round pick made just four game appearances. However, he turned his 15 carries into 74 yards (4.9 YPC) and two touchdowns. That said, like Igwebuike, Jefferson did not perform all that well at the end of the season. His final 10 carries gained just 27 yards.

Jefferson has work to do to make the Lions’ 53-man roster, mainly on special teams. But the young running back has focused his offseason efforts on improving there.

“I’m just looking forward to getting more special teams reps,” Jefferson told the Detroit Free Press. “Hopefully I’ll work my way on the field as a running back, but my one priority is special teams this year.”

45. LB Malcolm Rodriguez (Highest: 37; Lowest: 48)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Maybe the smartest rookie the Lions have, Malcolm Rodriguez is this year’s Day 3 draft pick with out-of-control hype. Part of the hype surrounds Rodriguez’s admittedly impressive tape and good early impressions from rookie minicamp. Part of the hype is likely Lions fans simply looking for some reason to be optimistic about their thin linebacking corps. Either way, Rodriguez’s job certainly seems safe.

44. DT Jashon Cornell (Highest: 38; Lowest: 49)

Last year’s ranking: 61

“Jashon is a guy that is under the radar right now,” Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash said in June. “I thought he had a really good spring and I look forward to seeing what he can do, being healthy again.”

43. OT Matt Nelson (Highest: 34; Lowest: 53)

Last year’s ranking: 46

Nelson’s mere three-spot jump is strong evidence that the top of this roster is better than last year. You may remember that Nelson has spent the past two seasons transitioning from defense to offense. In 2020, he looked rough in his game appearances. This past season, he was a weapon for the Lions as a sixth offensive lineman. Nelson did still struggle as the team’s right tackle when Taylor Decker was out, but he has shown significant signs of improvement since the position switch.

42. TE James Mitchell (Highest: 37; Lowest: 49)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

We got good news about Mitchell this week after he was not one of the players listed on Non-Football Injury list at the start of camp. We didn’t see Mitchell practice at all during the spring as the Lions eased him back in from an ACL tear in 2021.

It’s been almost a full year since Mitchell has even seen a practice field, but his college tape shows a well-rounded skillset that could finally be the answer to Detroit’s TE2 issues.

41. RB Craig Reynolds (Highest: 35; Lowest: 48)

Last year’s ranking: N/A

Reynolds is at the top of the rankings among the RB3 candidates on the team, and it’s easy to see why. Last year, he was Detroit’s most consistent reserve running back. Reynolds carried the rock 55 times for 230 yards, while also adding 52 yards in the receiving game. In his first two games, he combined for 195 rushing yards on 37 carries, including over 100 yards in his first career start.

He’ll enter camp as our favorite to win the RB3 job.

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