DeAndre Levy is on the roster, but how does rest of Detroit Lions' defense project?

Training camp is a little more than a month away, and though the Detroit Lions might have some shift in the roster between now and the beginning of August, the players there now are likely the ones who will start at camp.

With that in mind, we’re taking another shot at predicting what the roster will look like when the team sets the initial 53-man roster (and 10-person practice squad) in September.

We looked at the offense Monday and we’ll look at the defense and special teams Tuesday.


Starters: Ezekiel Ansah, Jason Jones

Reserves (in potential depth-chart order): Darryl Tapp, Devin Taylor, Larry Webster, Phillip Hunt, Kerry Hyder.

Thoughts: This is both an easy and a tough position group to project. The Lions have five players who make a bunch of sense to be on the roster, but this is also a spot where George Johnson came out of nowhere a year ago to earn a spot. Ansah and Jones aren’t going anywhere and Tapp might be as important for morale and energy as he is on the field. Webster is a project Detroit is hoping pans out, as is Taylor. For the Lions to have success this season, one of the two has to.

Roster locks: Ansah, Jones, Webster.

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Ansah, Jones, Tapp, Taylor, Webster.

Changes from last projection: None.


Starters: Haloti Ngata, Caraun Reid.

Reserves: Tyrunn Walker, Gabe Wright, Jermelle Cudjo, Corey Wootton, Roy Philon.

Thoughts: This isn’t the most exciting group, but it is one that is pretty locked in as to who makes the roster if this is what the Lions stick with in camp. The biggest question could be Wootton, who can play inside or outside and might be a valuable overall piece. He would likely end up bumping out someone from another position group if he were to make the roster, but that is going to be something settled in camp.

Roster locks: Ngata, Walker, Wright.

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Ngata, Walker, Wright, Reid. Practice squad -- Philon.

Changes from last projection: None.


Starters: DeAndre Levy (Will), Stephen Tulloch (Mike), Tahir Whitehead (Sam).

Reserves: Kyle Van Noy, Travis Lewis, Josh Bynes, Julian Stanford, Brandon Copeland, Kevin Snyder, Jerrell Harris.

Thoughts: This is as stable a group as the Lions are going to have this season. There are quality starters in Levy and Tulloch along with a ton of depth that is capable of playing both linebacker and special teams. The Sam linebacker competition between Whitehead and Van Noy will be worth watching, although the position is essentially a 30-40 percent starting spot considering how many teams will force the Lions into nickel. The thing to watch here is special teams reps. If you spot a linebacker on all four first unit special teams, that’s a good sign he’s making the roster as a reserve linebacker.

Roster locks: Levy, Tulloch, Whitehead, Van Noy.

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Levy, Tulloch, Whitehead, Van Noy, Bynes, Lewis. Practice squad -- Snyder.

Changes from last projection: None.


Starters: Rashean Mathis, Darius Slay

Reserves: Alex Carter, Josh Wilson, Quandre Diggs, Nevin Lawson, Chris Owens, Mohammed Seisay, Crezdon Butler.

Thoughts: Though it might look like there is a lot of depth here, there really is not. If anything, Detroit has better depth in the slot than on the outside, where the team will be in a bunch of trouble if Mathis or Slay were to get injured. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Lions try to add a veteran outside cornerback here for competition. They have tried it the past two seasons. Mathis was a major success. Drayton Florence lasted 12 days in camp. It might depend the progress Carter can make between now and camp.

Roster locks: Mathis, Slay, Carter, Diggs.

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Mathis, Slay, Carter, Wilson, Diggs, Lawson. Practice squad -- Seisay.

Changes from last projection: Add Wilson, drop Bill Bentley.


Starters: Glover Quin, James Ihedigbo

Reserves: Isa Abdul-Quddus, Don Carey, Taylor Mays, Nate Ness, Isaiah Johnson, Brian Suite.

Thoughts: This is actually a bit tougher to predict than initially thought. This is a deeper position than it was in May with the addition of Mays, and both Johnson and Suite looking at least capable in spring workouts. The top three are likely set, but Carey might have to fight for his roster spot.

Roster locks: Quin, Ihedigbo.

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Quin, Ihedigbo, Abdul-Quddus, Carey. Practice squad -- Johnson, Suite.

Changes from previous projection: None.


Starters: Matt Prater (K), Sam Martin (P), Don Muhlbach (LS).

Reserves: Kyle Brindza (K/P), Jordan Thompson, Snyder (LB/LS).

Thoughts: Not much. The specialists are set. The more interesting thing for those deep into the Lions is what happens at backup long-snapper -- destined for a practice squad spot.

Roster locks: Prater, Martin, Muhlbach.

If picking the roster today, these guys would be on it: Prater, Martin, Muhlbach.

Changes from last projection: None.