The Detroit Lions have done their best to rebuild their roster ahead of a critical 2022 season, but obviously, it’s difficult for the team to check every single box they need to in a complete way.
Defensively, the Lions have renovated their line in serious fashion as well as added multiple linebackers. Additions have also been made on the back end, but perhaps not ones impactful enough to flip the script and turn that spot from a classic weakness to a roster strength just yet.
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Pro Football Focus has been rating every single position on the field for teams ahead of the 2022 season, and cast another vote in the poor category for the team and their defensive backfield.
Writer Michael Renner ranked all the teams and their backfields, and broke them into tiers ahead of 2022. The Lions were all the way down the list in tier four, the “serious flaws” category. Their position? 25th in the NFL. As Renner explained, there is lots of uncertainty with the group.
“A good deal of this ranking hinges on Jeff Okudah looking more like the player who ranked fourth on PFF’s draft board back in 2020 and less like the one who’s allowed a career 121.8 passer rating into his coverage. The good news is that he’s still young, having turned 23 earlier this year,” Renner wrote in the piece.
Renner also projected Detroit’s starters to be Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye at cornerback, Mike Hughes at nickel, and DeShon Elliott and Tracy Walker at safety. While not unexpected, it’s easy to debate the specific merits of this group.
At this point, not everyone is convinced things look good for the Lions on the back end, and that leads some to call for some drastic measures to be taken.
Insider Wants Lions Adding Cornerback
PFF isn’t the only ones that see the Lions as pretty thin at this particular spot on the field. In an ESPN insider piece by Field Yates, ideas for final offseason moves are presented. When it came to the Lions, Yates pitched another cornerback signing for the roster.
“One area that remains a bit thin is their cornerback spot, even with the return of Jeff Okudah and addition of Mike Hughes via free agency,” Yates writes in the piece.
How would he approach such a move? By watching the impending waiver wire come August and September.
“Detroit will be wise to monitor the waiver wire during the preseason for players who are let go around the league,” Yates finished in his analysis.
Calls persist for the Lions to sign another player at cornerback, but the fact is, the team could be happy with the depth they have and their chances of getting young contributions at the spot given what played out in 2021.
Even so, cornerback could quietly be a spot to watch in the coming months. It could be a bit weak and also primed for a potential addition if the right name comes about.
Lions Hope Cornerback Looks Deeper
Even if the team is weak or might need an addition, the team will offer players a chance to come in and bust a narrative about this group being a weakness. There is a ton of competition at cornerback this year, with the likes of Jerry Jacobs, Bobby Price and AJ Parker ahead of him on the depth chart. Detroit also has a healthy Okudah expected to return, and added an intriguing veteran corner in Hughes this offseason. While Detroit did not select a player early in this draft, they have Ifeatu Melifonwu on the roster as a 2021 third-round pick, and added Chase Lucas in the 2022 seventh-round. All these players may add up to less opportunity in terms of numbers for others, but a chance for any one of those players to stand out and show they have the goods to become elite. The team may already have such a player in Amani Oruwariye.
Detroit has depth, but plenty of questions. This group will surely be put to the test early and often as it relates to trying to calm some of the outside fears over what could happen on the field this season.