Before the NFL Draft had even concluded, the Lions front office and coaching staff were on the phones with players they wanted to sign as undrafted rookie free agents.
While the draft itself gets a lot of publicity, the undrafted rookie free agent market is always an important one when it comes to roster building. The Lions have had at least one undrafted rookie on the 53-man roster out of training camp in every year Bob Quinn has been the general manager.
The Lions signed 13 rookie free agents this year. Maybe a few of these names can earn a roster spot and help this football team in 2019 and beyond:
Nate Becker, TE, Miami (Ohio): Big and strong, Becker won the team’s strength award in 2017. The 6-foot-5, 264 pounder had 13 catches for 154 yards and a score this past season.
Beau Benzschawel, G, Wisconsin: A four-year starter with experience at guard, center and right tackle. He was the highest graded run blocker among interior lineman by Pro Football Focus this past season.
View photos of Detroit Lions players visiting the Macomb Special Olympics on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich.
Malik Carney, DE, North Carolina: Made 30 starts over the last three seasons and recorded 60 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in just eight games this past season.
Jonathan Duhart, WR, Old Dominion: Led Conference USA in 2018 with 74 receptions and was third with 1,045 receiving yards. He was tied with teammate and Lions sixth-round pick Travis Fulgham for a team-high nine touchdowns.
Tre Lamar, LB, Clemson: Only a junior, Lamar fits the physical type (6-3, 253) the Lions are looking for at the position. In 14 starts at middle linebacker, Lamar recorded 85 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception.
C.J. Moore, S, Ole Miss: Had two fumble recoveries and 17 tackles starting the season’s first five games before suffering a season-ending pectoral injury against LSU. Played both safety and cornerback during his time at Ole Miss.
Matt Nelson, DL, Iowa: Big defensive lineman (6-8, 296) with an ability to get his hands on the ball. He tied for third on the team by deflecting six passes last season. Also chipped in 31 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.
Donald Parham, TE, Stetson: Has a huge catch radius with a 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame, 84-inch wing span and 36-inch vertical. Was invited to the Senior Bowl and finished his career with school records for receptions (180), receiving yards (2,591) and receiving touchdowns (20).
Anthony Pittman, LB, Wayne State: Appeared in 43 games, making 29 starts. Recorded 181 career tackles and is tied for 12th in school history in tackles for loss (31.5).
Ryan Pope, T, San Diego State: Has a big frame at 6-foot-7 and 320 pounds. Played mostly right tackle, but does have a few starts under his belt on the left side.
Ray Smith, DL, Boston College: Smith played under Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni a couple years ago when Pasqualoni was the defensive line coach for the Eagles. He totaled 49 tackles and three tackles for loss as a senior.
Micah St. Andrew, G, Fresno State: Started 43 consecutive games at right guard and center, with most of those starts coming at guard. St. Andrew led an offensive line unit that saw the offense produce 2,161 yards on the ground for 31 touchdowns and 3,740 yards through the air – the most for Fresno State since 2013.
Kevin Strong Jr., DL, UTSA: Lions defensive line coach Bo Davis coached him a couple years back. He has a good frame at 6-foot-4, 285 pounds and started 40 games over the last four years at UTSA.