The Detroit Lions have some major needs this offseason, and already, one of the biggest has been identified at cornerback.
When the offseason gets underway, the team is going to have to expend plenty of energy to perhaps fix the mess at the spot, and that could involve spending some money as well as some draft picks.
What player will the team prioritize and eventually land next month when the new league year opens? An early projection has already been made with regards to that, and it’s one that Lions fans could appreciate.
Bleacher Report took a look at revealing some early predictions about where top free agents at every position will land this offseason. Writer David Kenyon had the Lions prioritizing a key spot on the field at cornerback with one of the best young free agents set to hit the market.
Kenyon predicted the Lions will sign Jamel Dean, cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to help fill a major void at the position. As he wrote, Dean might have plenty of suitors, but the Lions make the most sense.
“Among many options, the Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans should inquire. But the Detroit Lions have a gargantuan need in the secondary after their defense ceded the second-most yards per attempt in the league last season. Dean alone doesn’t solve the Lions’ defensive woes, but he’s a valuable step in a positive direction,” Kenyon said in the piece.
Dean, formally a third-round pick out of Auburn in 2019, helped the Buccaneers claim Super Bowl 55. He’s been an aggressive player in the backfield for Tampa Bay and has been one of the better young players on the team’s defense.
This offseason, the retirement of Tom Brady may plunge Tampa Bay into a rebuild. Whether or not Dean would be prioritized in such a situation remains to be seen, but it feels more than likely he will explore the market and potentially get offers elsewhere.
In that instance, Kenyon predicts the Lions to be the team that swoops in and lands the cornerback for their future.
Lions’ Secondary Needs 2023 Upgrades
Why prioritize the cornerback spot this offseason in free agency? Detroit’s secondary was arguably the worst group on the team’s defense this year, and they have the statistics to prove it.
Detroit finished 30th in pass defense, allowing 26 touchdowns and over 245 yards per-game on average. Worse, they allowed a total of 4,179 yards through the air. That points to a group that simply didn’t get much going all season long.
Jeff Okudah, who posted 73 tackles and one interception was the most consistent player of the group, and by the end of the season, he was struggling to find consistency as well. The Lions have solid pieces like Jerry Jacobs, but not nearly enough depth at the position, which proved itself to be the case most of the year.
Free agent Amani Oruwariye figures to be on the outs after a very tough season in 2022, and Mike Hughes may not have done enough to stick around as a must re-sign player. That could lead the Lions to prioritize the spot heavy in the draft as well as free agency.
Getting some veteran players along with a few more young bodies could be the key toward helping the Lions turn things around for the future. Early on, it seems as if the draft and impending free agent market is going to fit the Lions and their needs in the defensive backfield in a big way.
Dean’s Stats & Highlights
As for Dean, he’s younger than David at 26, and broke into the league in 2019, when he was a third-round pick of Tampa Bay.
Since then, though, he’s developed into a solid cornerback and a big play option on the back end for the Buccaneers defense. While Dean hasn’t earned any league accolades for his work yet, he could be on the rise given 193 tackles, seven interceptions and 41 passes defended in his four years in the NFL.
He also has an interception return for a score and plenty of other big plays on tape to his credit:
If given a bigger role in Detroit, Dean could flourish for the Lions and be part of a solution to a pass defense which was ranked 30th and allowed 245.8 yards per-game through the air with a lack of young impact makers.
With money to spend and holes on defense, the Lions could be aggressive this offseason. In the minds of some, Dean is where their focus should and will turn once the offseason begins.