New Lions Cornerback Addition Brings Intriguing Skill to Mix

Corey Ballentine

Getty Corey Ballentine runs off the field after a 2019 game with the Giants.

The Detroit Lions added another cornerback this week in order to help out their depth situation, but it wasn’t the veteran name that everybody expected.

On Thursday, September 16, the Lions were awarded Corey Ballentine off waivers from the New York Jets. Ballentine is also not a veteran, having played just a few seasons in the league at the age of 25.

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Here’s a look at the Lions revealing the claim of Ballentine to the masses after it played out.

Adding Ballentine is a bit of a surprise considering the fact that the Lions have a sizable hole without Jeff Okudah, but it’s clear the team wants to continue to see if they can find scrappy young players who are solid on special teams to fill the void. That could describe Ballentine thus far during his NFL career.

How Lions Will Replace Jeff Okudah

The Lions didn’t have to look outside the team to replace Okudah, and with the moves they have made, it seems that they are content to ride it out with their own depth as well as try to find upside from the players they brought in. Head coach Dan Campbell did admit to the media that additions would be coming simply to help the Lions from a depth standpoint.

“Certainly we need to add someone just to help us on the overall roster. We’re looking into it, Brad (Holmes) is looking into it. That’s coming, it will probably be sooner rather than later. It will be someone who will help us with overall depth,” Campbell told the media on Monday, September 13.

The Lions added another veteran player this week in Daryl Worley who has more of a veteran profile than Ballentine given he is 26, but has far more NFL production and snaps to rely on. It’s clear the Lions are going to try Worley, Ballentine and perhaps even Nickell Robey-Coleman as stop-gaps to account for the loss of Okudah. They will also be likely to use names like Ifeatu Melifonwu, Jerry Jacobs and A.J. Price as well. Depth is the name of the game with all the moves the team has made.

Outside of familiar faces and veterans, it will be interesting to see how much the Lions rely on names like Melifonwu, Price or Jacobs. While many haven’t heard their names, it’s clear that the team likes what they see from the youngsters in practice in terms of play and fit. It’s also abundantly clear that the Lions want to find younger players to grow with rather than continue to add washed-up veteran players to the mix.

Ballentine’s Stats and Highlights

Ballentine has actually proven to be more adept on special teams than at cornerback early in his career, so the Lions may have been able to find a player to help them in multiple ways with his addition to the roster. In his NFL career, Ballentine has racked up a total of 761 return yards, which far outpaces his defensive production which is minuscule at best. Ballentine has only 46 total tackles and 2 passes defended to his credit. Ballentine made the transition to the NFL from Washburn and was a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft of the New York Giants. He played with the New York Jets where he was recently released. Ballentine is also known for an unfortunate incident where he was shot with a college teammate just months after being drafted by the Giants. His teammate passed away while Ballentine survived the attack.

Here’s a look at Ballentine’s tape from college as a return man:

2017 11 04 Corey Ballentine KO ReturnShawnee Heights Alumni, #1 Corey Ballentine KO Return late in the game vs Central Oklahoma University.2017-12-11T21:31:57Z

Obviously, the Lions need help at cornerback, but could also try him at returner. Godwin Igwebuike started there in Week 1, but the Lions could shake it up if they like what they see. Ballentine could offer the Lions some intriguing depth and versatility for 2021.

READ NEXT: Lions Lose Jeff Okudah for Season With Devastating Injury

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