Tim Twentyman's offseason rookie report

Posted Jun 19, 2014

Senior writer Tim Twentyman takes a look at how all 23 of the Lions' rookies performed over the last month and where they stand heading into training camp.

For the 23 rookies on the Detroit Lions roster, the last month has been a bit of a whirlwind.

They went from big men on campus to small fish in a big pond. Most rookies are just trying to keep their head above water during OTAs and minicamp.

The honeymoon period will soon be over for rookies. The coaching staff and the front office will expect them to know what they’re doing and make plays the first day they step on the field for training camp. Some will hit the ground running. Others won’t.

So where do the rookies stand heading into training camp?

Eric Ebron, TE, first-round pick:
Ebron had an issue with drops when OTAs began. He admittedly got more comfortable in the offense as OTAs went on and his athleticism and playmaking ability was evident during the mandatory minicamp that ended the offseason workouts. Ebron is expected to be a playmaker Week 1 for the Lions and has his sights set on the Pro Bowl and rookie of the year.

Kyle Van Noy, LB, second-round pick:
Van Noy split reps between the first- and second-team defense in OTAs and minicamp, but expect him to assume a starter's role at some point in training camp. He’s an impressive athlete at the SAM linebacker spot and coaches are probably itching to get the pads on him to see what he can do and how he fits in their defense.

Travis SwansonC Travis Swanson (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Travis Swanson, C/G, third-round pick:
Swanson got work at both center and guard and worked both positions with the first and second teams. Swanson is going to try and give Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims a run for their starting spots. Even if he doesn’t win a starting role, however, the Lions still need an interior lineman who can play both spots as a reserve on game day. Swanson and Rodney Austin will compete for a starting spot as well as that role on the 46-man game-day roster in training camp.

Nevin Lawson, CB, fourth-round pick:
Lawson has played both inside (slot cornerback) and outside as the Lions figure out which spot suits him best. He could try and give Bill Bentley a run for the starting nickel cornerback role in camp. He and Cassius Vaughn have been the second-team corners on the outside for most of the last month and if Lawson doesn’t win a starting spot at the nickel or outside, he’ll play a big role on special teams and be an important reserve.

Larry Webster, DE, fourth-round pick:
Webster has had an up-and-down month, which is to be expected from a raw prospect like him. The athleticism is evident when watching him in drills, but he has to refine his rushing skills. He’ll compete for the fifth defensive end spot behind Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones, Devin Taylor and Darryl Tapp.

Caraun Reid, DT, fifth-round pick:
As expected, the Princeton grad has turned out to be a quick learner. He’s in a good spot to learn behind Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Reid never cracked the starting lineup this offseason and he won’t in training camp as long as Suh, Fairley and C.J. Mosley stay healthy. He is in a good spot, however, to land the fourth tackle spot and a second-team role alongside Mosley.

TJ Jones, WR, sixth-round pick:
Jones didn’t stick out early on in the open OTA sessions and missed the mandatory minicamp with an undisclosed injury. The competition for the final three or four receiver spots is going to be fierce. Jones needs to get healthy and step up his game come training camp or he could potentially be looking at the practice squad.

Nate Freese, K, seventh-round pick:
Freese was the team's last draft pick because of his consistency in college, but he's struggled with that over the last month. He missed a few kicks during OTAs and minicamp as he continues to find his rhythm with a new snapper (Don Muhlbach) and holder (Sam Martin). Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio should have a nice competition in training camp.

"Both guys are thumping it pretty good,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “Giorgio’s (Tavecchio) doing a nice job and Nate’s (Freese) doing a nice job as well, so I think it will be a good, healthy competition.”

Cornelius Lucas, T, undrafted:
LaAdrian Waddle and Corey Hilliard separated themselves from Lucas in the competition for the starting right tackle spot in OTAs. The two veteran rotated all the first-team reps. Lucas did flash some skills with the backups and will be in the mix for the team’s fourth tackle spot.

Chad Abram, FB, undrafted:
Abram’s speed is evident when he’s in the flat as a receiver, but a fullback earns his money -- and his roster spot -- by plowing the way for the guys who make the big bucks. We won’t be able to tell who’s better at that between Abram, Jed Collins and Montell Owens until the pads come on and the thumping starts in training camp.

Jerome CouplinS Jerome Couplin (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Jerome Couplin, S, undrafted:
The guy looks like a linebacker at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and with shoulders as wide as a Mack truck. It’ll be interesting to see what he looks like with pads on. He got mostly third-team reps behind Glover Quin, James Ihedigbo, Don Carey, DeJon Gomes and Isa Abdul-Quddus in OTAs and minicamp, but he's a player who could start to shine when the pads come on.

James Franklin, QB, undrafted:
He didn’t get a whole lot of reps in open practices to the media over the last month and has an uphill battle to pass Kellen Moore for the third quarterback job. He’s more athletic than Moore, that much is clear, and he'll get his opportunity to turn some heads and win a job in the preseason.

Bryce Quigley, G, undrafted:
Quigley, who was signed by the Lions late last week, will enter camp behind the ball not having taken part in the offseason. The Lions list him as a guard, but he played tackle at San Diego State. He’s been on the team’s radar for a while now as they waited for him to recover from a foot injury. If he can play both tackle and guard in training camp, the Lions might consider investing in his future.

Andrew Peacock, WR, undrafted:
Peacock made a few plays over the last month and has good quickness. He'll fight for a job in the slot, but Jeremy Ross, Ryan Broyles and Jones (because of draft status) look to have the upper hand at this point. He’ll make a run at it, though.

Jacob Maxwell, TE, undrafted:
The Lions are pretty set at tight end with Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew and Joe Fauria. If Maxwell is in Detroit after training camp, there was probably an injury or he played well enough to make the practice squad.

Alex Bullard, G, undrafted:
Bullard is in the same position as a lot of undrafted rookies on a veteran-laden team. He needs to show enough promise for the team to invest in his future as a member of the practice squad. It's unlikely he's going to jump Rob Sims, Swanson or Austin for a spot in the guard rotation in training camp.

A.J. Dalton, T, undrafted:
Dalton is a bit undersized for the position, but it allows him to move and get out in space on screens. Like Bullard, it’s probably a numbers game with Dalton in terms of the 53-man roster.

Gregory Hickman, DT, Undrafted:
The Lions have a lot of depth at defensive tackle with Andre Fluellen and Jimmy Saddler-McQueen also vying for the one or two roster spots at the position up for grabs. Hickman is probably fighting for a spot on the practice squad.

Justin Jackson, LB, undrafted:
Jackson played mostly with the third team behind Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, Ashlee Palmer, Van Noy, Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis. Throw second-year player Brandon Hepburn and veteran Cory Greenwood into that mix, and that's a lot of names to climb.

Kalonji Kashama, DE, Undrafted:
The more things a player can do the better chance he has of making the roster. Kashama is a pass rusher and the Lions plan to rush the quarterback with players who have their hand in the dirt and with with players standing up. If Kashama can show he can do both in training camp he’ll increase his value.

Gabe Lynn, S, undrafted:
If an undrafted safety is going to win the No. 4 job and make the roster, Couplin probably has the upper hand because of his size and athleticism, but it only takes a couple nice performances in the preseason to get on the coaching staff’s radar. Lynn will have to have a good camp.

D.J.  Morrell, G, undrafted:
Morrell is a big body at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds and that makes him stick a bit in the competition. Like Bullard, however, he’ll have a tough task cracking the lineup ahead of Warford, Sims, Swanson and Austin. He has practice squad potential, however.

Mohammed Seisay, CB, undrafted:
Everyone moves up one spot with the Lions releasing Chris Houston. Seisay’s size (6-2, 200) stands out, but he’ll have to make more plays than he did in OTAs and minicamp if he wants to make the team. His size and potential might make him a practice squad candidate as well.