Competition breeds success.
It’s the motto for any front office entrusted with building a 53-man NFL roster. The more competition across all levels of the roster, the better for everyone involved.
“Our job as players is to make it hard for coaches to make a decision at the end of the day of who we can keep on this team,” third-year linebacker Jarrad Davis said this offseason. “Everybody has to be the best they can be so this team can elevate.”
At first glance, there appears to be a number of good clashes set to take place for starting positions, key backup roles and for those few spots left on the initial 53-man roster.
Veteran Rashaan Melvin might be the early favorite to start opposite Darius Slay at one of the outside corner spots, but veteran Marcus Cooper should put himself into the mix too.
Can third-year cornerback Teez Tabor elevate his game, reach his potential, and join the competition? He’s at a bit of a crossroads in his early career, and knew going into this offseason that a big leap of production was needed. Another young veteran, Mike Ford, played over 300 snaps in this defense at cornerback last season.
Then there’s Amani Oruwariye, who the team drafted in the fifth round. He fits the profile of what the Lions like on the outside at cornerback. We could see a lot of good competition at cornerback.
“The biggest thing is it’s all about competing,” Melvin said earlier this week. “That’s what we do here – compete. Bring guys in to compete at the highest level possible.”
Veterans Kenny Wiggins and Oday Aboushi are both looking to fill the right guard spot left vacant by the release and retirement of T.J. Lang. Between them, Wiggins and Aboushi have played in 103 career games with 67 starts.
Last year’s No. 3 tackle, Tyrell Crosby, who earned a positive grade for the year from Pro Football Focus as a rookie, will likely take reps at guard this spring and summer to see if he could potentially be a fit there.
Like Tabor, this is a critical year for fourth-year guard Joe Dahl. He’s been strictly a backup early in his career. Can he break through and compete for a starting role?
“At the end of the day it’s all about competition,” Davis said. “You’ve got to have guys on this team that are willing to come out and put their best foot forward each and every day.
“We have guys that really love to compete and really love to play hard and love to put their best product out there and help everyone else around them do the same exact thing.”
Who plays what role at safety? Quandre Diggs is a Pro-Bowl caliber starter, but veterans Tracy Walker, Andrew Adams and Tavon Wilson have all shown at times they can play at a high level too. Where does third-round pick Will Harris fit into the mix? Third-round draft picks typically see the field sooner rather than later.
“We’re just going to train and try to get better and just compete with each other each and every day this offseason,” Diggs said. “At the end of the day, we are all men. We know how to respect each other. We all know how to go to work. We just know how to put our pride aside and just go out and compete.”
The Lions return all three starters at linebacker, but also drafted Jahlani Tavai in the second round. His addition should promote some competition among that group.
After tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Jesse James, which of the three veterans (Michael Roberts, Logan Thomas, Jerome Cunningham) or incoming rookie (Isaac Nauta) will position themselves for the final one or two spots on the roster at the position?
Where does rookie defensive end Austin Bryant fit upfront along a defensive line that is already crowded with talent in Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Damon Harrison Sr., A’Shawn Robinson and Da’Shawn Hand.
There looks to be good competition across the roster this year.
“Everybody here knows it’s a job,” Flowers said of the competition currently on the roster. “They understand the competition. A lot of guys are getting after it. We have a lot of great players in the building and a lot of great competition.”