As training camp approaches, the rookies on the Detroit Lions have put in their work in offseason OTA’s and are now about to see what they are really made of. This is when we will see which of the rookies on the roster will either earn jobs with the Lions or for the not so fortunate ones, their chances with the team will be over. Here is a look at how each of the rookies has performed so far:
Laken Tomlinson, Guard: Ran a 5.33 40 yard dash at the combine, and also benched 225 pounds 25 times. When drafted 28th overall by the Lions, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said: “This is a really interesting pick for the Lions. Tomlinson is one of my favorite guards in this draft. Tomlinson is a people mover; a phone booth guy and a finisher.” After primarily repping with the second team offense, Tomlinson is expected to compete with Manny Ramirez for the starting job in training camp, and ultimately win the job.
Ameer Abdullah, Running Back: Ran a 4.53 40 at the combine. A second round pick for the Lions, Abdullah has opened a lot of eyes in the offseason. While using fear as the main motivator to make the team, he has shown that he can be more of a factor as a receiver out of the backfield than originally thought. He will compete with Joique Bell for the starting job out of camp, and will also attempt to get time on punt and kickoff returns.
Alex Carter, Cornerback: Ran a 4.5 40. In compliance with an NFL rule, Carter had to miss the first two weeks of OTA’s while finishing his junior year at Stanford. Since his arrival, the 6 foot, 195-pound third round pick has shown confidence. “I’m in the playbook,” Carter told The Detroit News. “I know what to do if I’m there.” With Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis all but locking down the outside corner positions, it appears that Carter will be rotated in on defense, and play on special teams.
Gabe Wright, Defensive Tackle: Ran a 5.07 40, and repped 225 pounds a whopping 34 times in the bench press. Has an incredible burst off the snap, and has a good ability to stay square and fight against double team blocks. With Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker, and Caraun Reid likely taking the top three DT spots on the depth chart, Wright will probably rotate in on the defensive line.
Michael Burton, Fullback: Ran a 4.74 40. Rated the 7th best fullback out of 84 by NFL Draft Scout, Burton has had some flashes in OTA’s, especially in his limited pass catching opportunities. He is slated to compete with Emil Igwenagu for the starting job but is expected to earn the position.
Quandre Diggs, Cornerback: Posted a 4.56 time in the 40. Although he was drafted in the sixth round, the Lions have big plans for Diggs. “I like that guy,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told detroitlions.com. “He’s scrappy, he’s tough, he’s got good ball skills, he’s got good football sense that I’ve seen so far.” He has been taking some reps at the nickel corner this summer and is expected to compete for the starting job with Josh Wilson and Nevin Lawson.
Corey Robinson, Tackle: Ran a 5.3 40 yard dash, and put up 28 reps of 225 pounds. NFL Network scouting expert Mark Dulgerian said of the seventh round pick: “This could be a nice depth addition for the Lion’s tackle position. Likely a right tackle only, Robinson is a long but surprisingly coordinated bookend.” While missing LaAdrian Waddle and Cornelius Lucas at times during minicamp, Robinson got some chances. He will probably start the season in the fourth tackle spot.
Al Bond, Guard: An undrafted free agent, he ran a 5.57 40 yard dash and posted 22 reps of 225 pounds at the combine. Got some time in with the second team offense. The 303 pounder will have his work cut out for him to make the team behind Larry Warford, Ramirez and Tomlinson, but a depth spot on the roster is not out of the question for him.
Kyle Brindza, Kicker/Punter: With Sam Martin and Matt Prater holding down the duties in the kicking department for the Lions, it is unlikely that the undrafted free agent Brindza will catch on with the team. Had a down year in his last year at Notre Dame, but could be an emergency option in Detroit, or signed by another NFL team.
Jarred Haggins, Wide Receiver: The undrafted free agent Haggins is the definition of a “long shot” to make the team out of camp. He will most likely end up on the practice squad.
Isaiah Johnson, Safety: Upon completion of the draft, the Lions moved quickly to sign Johnson, even giving him a $12,000 bonus. With the top four safety spots likely filled by James Ihedigbo, Glover Quin, Isa Abul-Quddus, and Don Carey, Johnson will compete with newly signed Taylor Mays for the fifth spot. The Lions brought Jerome Couplin in as the fifth safety out of camp last year, so nothing is out of the question for Johnson.
Vernon Johnson, Wide Receiver: Was projected to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round this year but slipped all the way out of the draft. He seems to be in the same situation as Haggins, competing for a receiver spot on a team that is already quite deep at the position. It is highly unlikely that he will make the team.
Desmond Martin, Running Back: Following in Joique Bell’s footsteps, the former Wayne State University running back was brought into Lions rookie minicamp as a tryout player, before being offered and signing a contract with the team. After finishing fourth all-time in rushing yards at Wayne State, Martin will compete with Zach Zenner and George Winn for the fourth running back spot.
Casey Pierce, Tight End: With Joseph Fauria rehabbing an ankle injury all offseason, Pierce was brought in as an undrafted free agent, and had a fair share of big plays in his time. Between Pierce, Jordan Thompson, and Fauria, it appears we will have a healthy competition for the third TE spot.
Kevin Snyder, Linebacker: The Lions are deep at linebacker. Really deep. Despite an impressive college career at Rutgers, which saw him rack up 229 tackles in his time there, it is likely that he will end up on the practice squad due to the fact that there are not many openings at linebacker in Detroit.
Brian Suite, Safety: Suite has had the opportunity to make a couple plays while repping with the second team defense at times, including breaking up two passes from Dan Orlovsky early in spring practice. But considering the fact that the first four safety spots are all but locked up, and Isaiah Johnson closing in on the fifth spot, it is hard to imagine seeing Suite in a Lions jersey.
Zach Zenner, Running Back: Competing for the fourth and final running back spot. He was projected to be drafted as early as the sixth round, but ultimately fell out of the draft altogether. In his senior year at South Dakota State University, Zenner scored five touchdowns on the ground of 67 yards or more. It appears that the race for the final running back spot will be a good one.