Here’s an early look at the Lions’ 2013 draft class after nine days of training camp. They haven’t played any preseason games which could change everything. The first preseason game is Friday against the N.Y. Jets at Ford Field. At first glance:
1. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah’s athleticism shows, but he’s still learning. When Jason Jones was healthy, it was Willie Young mostly lining up at right defensive end with the first team. Ansah is a quick learner, but not sure he’s ready to start just yet. Gunther Cunningham likes to rotate the defensive ends during the game so if he doesn’t start he’ll still see plenty of action. The preseason games will be key.
2. Cornerback Darius Slay’s speed has been on display, but he is not a lock for a starting role. His play in preseason games will factor where he falls on depth chart. No doubt he’ll make 53-man roster, but Ron Bartell has had a great camp and so has Bill Bentley.
3. Guard Larry Warford, the third-round pick, has got some time with the starters at right guard and plenty with the second team at left guard. It’s been a heavy rotation at right guard. It’s possible he could get beat for the starting spot by Jake Scott or Dylan Gandy.
4. Defensive end Devin Taylor, the fourth-round pick, has stepped up in full padded practices which is a good sign. He’s got some work to do, but his size (he’s 6-foot-7) helps. Unlikely to start, but could end up in the defensive end rotation. He could eventually look like a steal from the fourth round, but has some work to do.
5. Punter Sam Martin, fifth-round pick booms the ball like no one’s business. He not only punts, but he also has kicked off during camp. He’s in competition with Blake Clingan but would expect Martin to get the job.
6. Wide receiver Corey Fuller, a sisth-round pick, is relatively new to football. This is just his third training camp — he had two in college after making the move from track and field. The competition is so tough at wide receiver, hard to see him making the 53-man roster unless he really shows up in preseason games. The guy has potential. He’s a good candidate for the practice squad.
7. Running back Theo Riddick has had some good days at camp, but it might be tough for him to crack the 53-man roster. He’s behind Reggie Bush, Mikel Leshoure, Joique Bell and probably Steven MIller.
8. Tight end Michael Williams, whose strength is blocking, could be the choice to fill the vacancy left by Will Heller. It’s not automatic though, he’s competing with Joe Fauria (an undrafted rookie) and Matt Veldman.
9. Linebacker Brandon Hepburn, the LIons’ final draft pick, comes from a small school (Florida A&M) and has plenty to learn. Has been schooled a few times in camp. Likely a candidate for the practice squad.
— Undrafted rookies who have a chance at the 53-man roster include: running back Steven MIller who could be the punt returner; tight end Joe Fauria who can catch the ball and is working on his blocking; kicker Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland has slight chance to win job over veteran Dave Akers; and tackle LaAdrian Waddle who is not in the mix to start, but could end up as a backup.