Rookies take traditional spots as Lions release first 'unofficial' depth chart

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — With the team's first preseason game coming up this Thursday, the Detroit Lions released their first depth chart. It's a decent conversation piece, but it's important to remember it's unofficial. The listing is put together by the team's communications staff with someone on the coaching staff typically signing off. 

T.J. Hockenson

A common trend with these early depth charts is rookies rarely appear at the top of their position groups. This year's version isn't an exception, with no rookies listed as starters, and only T.J. Hockenson and Jahlani Tavai listed as top backups. Tavai checks in behind Jarrad Davis at middle linebacker, while Hockenson gives way to free-agent addition Jesse James. 

For lower-round draft picks, they're even more buried on these projections. For example, sixth-rounder Travis Fulgham checks in as fourth-string receiver, behind even Tommylee Lewis, who remains on the physically unable to perform list.

Kenny Wiggins is listed as the starting left guard, a role he's got plenty of reps at through the offseason. Joe Dahl is listed as the backup on that side, while Oday Aboushi is the projected backup at right guard. 

Defensively, the nickel cornerback isn't included on the depth chart, so Justin Coleman is considered the No. 2 corner opposite Darius Slay, while Teez Tabor and Rashaan Melvin are the backups. 

Da'Shawn Hand, a rookie standout defensive tackle from a season ago, shows up as a second-string defensive end. And Miles Killebrew, despite a year practicing as a linebackers, is listed as a third-string strong safety, just ahead of rookie Will Harris. 

That's a wordy way of saying the entire list should be taken with a grain of salt. While many of the team's starting jobs are all but locked up, there's still plenty of practice time and preseason games to determine how the remaining roles and roster spots will sort out.