Detroit signed 12 undrafted free agents at the conclusion of the seventh and final round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Who are the four that will make the Lions’ roster?
Before we look into the NFL crystal ball, we should take a moment and congratulate all 12 for making it this far.
It has been said that only 6.5 percent of high school football players go on to play college football, and only 1.2 percent of college players get drafted in the NFL.
Congratulations to OT Obinna Eze (TCU), RB Greg Bell (San Diego State), TE Derrick Deese Jr. (San Jose State), OL Kevin Jarvis (Michigan State), TE Nolan Givan (Southeastern Louisiana), WR Corey Sutton (Appalachian State), DT Demetrius Taylor (Appalachian State), WR Kalil Pimpleton (Central Michigan), WR Josh Johnson (Tulsa), OL Zein Obeid (Ferris State), CB Cedric Boswell (Miami) and CB Jermaine Waller (Virginia Tech).
The first thing that pops out about this group is the money that Detroit gave to four of these prospects. The four undrafted players who got the most money from the Lions:
• Eze (guaranteed base of $150K and a $20K signing bonus)
• Bell ($100K total, $85K guaranteed and a $15K signing bonus)
• Deese ($100K total and a $5K signing bonus)
• Jarvis ($155K total, $140K guaranteed and a $15K signing bonus)
These larger financial commitments generally would indicate that these four players have a leg-up on making the roster. But, it’s not necessarily the case.
The best men will still win when the football starts flying for real in training camp (and in the preseason).
Without further ado, here are the four undrafted free agents who I believe will make the Lions’ roster in 2022.
1.) OT Obinna Eze (TCU) – 6-foot-8, 334 pounds
Strengths: Athleticism and size
Weaknesses: Lateral footwork in pass pro, picking up blitzes, run blocking and very average anchor when challenged by bull rushes.
Summary: After watching him on game film against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and California, it is surprising he did not go in the later rounds. Eze moves around really well for an undrafted free agent. He has developmental upside, and he will make the team as a backup swing offensive tackle.
2.) OG/OT Kevin Jarvis (Michigan State) – 6-foot-6, 325 pounds
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Strengths: Versatile, competitive and tough
Weaknesses: Sustaining pass and run blocks long enough
Summary: His three strengths alone are enough to make this team. A technician who can swing to tackle in a pinch. Jarvis does not have the ideal feet of a tackle in pass pro, but he does have the know-how. He looked like someone the Lions can win with on film in 2021 against Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State.
3.) WR Josh Johnson (Tulsa) – 5-foot-11, 171 pounds
Summary: I like the chances of anyone nicknamed “Sweet Feet.” Johnson is a natural-looking receiver on film who showed concentration, some get-up and go in the open field, a knack for making plays and swag.
Johnson will separate from several returning in the Lions’ receivers room because of these five attributes. Johnson has some of that Victor Cruz feel to him.
4.) TE Nolan Givan (Southeastern Louisiana) – 6-foot-3, 260 pounds
Strengths: Precision route-running and blocking
Weaknesses: Football playing speed
Summary: Look for Michigan born Givan to grow on former NFL tight end and current Lions head coach Dan Campbell. Anyone who has half a highlight film featuring blocking is a shoe-in.
Despite Detroit only keeping two tight ends after the cuts last year, look for Givan to become Campbell’s toughest final 53-man roster decision. Campbell will end up giving the nod to Givan, because there is just something about this guy.
The Lions’ scouts did a good job, as the undrafted guys looked better this year than last year.
Look for guys like Pimpleton, who should get a nice, long look as a punt returner, Waller and Deese to make the first round of cuts.
I gave all the guys the respect of studying them on game film.
Giving Givan the nod over Deese was the hardest decision of the bunch. I just think Deese and fifth-round tight end James Mitchell are too similar to keep both. They are receiving types who will battle for that second spot behind Hockenson. Campbell will want to keep the best blocker in the tight ends room. That is Campbell’s football DNA.
Subsequently, it would not shock me to see Givan in the role of a halfback. He is an interesting weapon who can block and then quietly slip out and get open.