The Detroit Lions finished their season with a 9-7 record last year. The Lions were 9-4 before star quarterback Matthew Stafford injured his index finger on his throwing hand. Stafford and the Lions took a huge step back, and finished 0-4 in their last 4 games (3 regular season games, 1 playoff game). This year some changes occurred on the Lions roster. Here are projections for the starting lineup:
QB: Matthew Stafford/ Backup Jake Ruddock.
Stafford is a veteran for the Lions whose leadership took a huge step forward this year in leading them to the playoffs. Stafford should continue his success and be a dark horse candidate for MVP. His backup will be the Michigan product Ruddock or recently drafted Brad Kaaya.
RB: Ameer Abdullah/ Backup Theo Riddick
Ameer Abdullah was taken by the Lions in the 2nd round and was expected to make an immediate impact. Abdullah has struggled to stay on the field due to injury, but has proven that he is an electrifying back when healthy. His backup Theo Riddick will most likely only come in on third down passing situations, where he has had success receiving out of the backfield.
WR: Golden Tate/ Marvin Jones/ Kenny Golladay
Golden Tate was a 1000-yard receiver last year for the Lions, he is a Super Bowl champion, and his infectious swagger and leadership has always given him plenty of fans. Marvin Jones received for 930 yards last year as the Lions number 2 option. Jones exploded against the Packers last season for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns week 3. Kenny Golladay was the Lions third round draft pick out of Northern Illinois, Golladay has prototype size at 6-4, and should be looked as a red zone target.
TE: Eric Ebron/ Backup Darren Fells
Eric Ebron received for 711 yards last season. Ebron has not lived up to expectations, he was drafted with a top 10 pick and so far has been injury prone and drops the ball too much. Another concern for Ebron is that he hurt his hamstring on the first day of training camp. Darren Fells will back him up, Fells was an Arizona Cardinal, and was one of the best run blocking tight ends in the league. He should look to see some time in goal line situations.
LT: Taylor Decker/ Backup Greg Robinson
Taylor Decker was the Lions first round pick 2 years ago, and at the time many Lions fans were disappointed with the pick, but not now! Taylor Decker played very well for the Lions last year, but unfortunately tore his labrum in his right shoulder, and should miss time at the start of the season. Greg Robinson is the projected starter week one. Robinson was a Los Angeles Ram, and is considered a bust. Many people think Robinson only struggled because of the Rams system, so hopefully for Detroit, Robinson can turn it around.
RT: Ricky Wagner/ Backup Cyrus Kouandjio
Wagner was an exciting signing for the Lions this offseason. Wagner is a former Baltimore Raven who is known as a fantastic run blocker, he should help the Lions improve in that area, as they have not been a good rushing team recently. Kouandjio was a 2nd round pick for the Buffalo Bills, and recently came to Detroit this offseason to help bring size and strength to the offensive line.
LG: T.J. Lang/ Backup Graham Glasgow
Lang is a highly talented left guard, who recently left his former division rival team, the Green Bay Packers to join Detroit. Lang was originally from Detroit, so he should feel right at home in the Honolulu blue uniform. Glasgow was the starting left guard last year, and should be able to provide good depth and move around the line.
RG: Laken Tomlinson
The Lions have a big void at right guard, and last year Tomlinson struggled, Tomlinson is still young, and Detroit still believes he can improve.
C: Travis Swanson
Travis Swanson was a talented center for Detroit last year, and should look to start this year. The Lions badly missed Swanson in their playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.