The Detroit Lions are thinking about how to improve their fortunes moving forward this offseason, and a big way to do that would be to make improvements on the defensive side.
Defensively, the team left a lot to be desired, finishing 32nd overall, dead last in the league in total defense. A big reason that was the case was troubles on the back end at cornerback.
Analysts see this as the biggest issue for the Lions, and as a result, the biggest missing piece for the future is a cornerback. Bleacher Report took a look at picking out some names for the team, and Gary Davenport singled out a few names led by Marcus Peters.
As he wrote, the aging Peters isn’t quite the player that was a two-time First-Team NFL all-pro, nor is he the guy who was the former Defensive Rookie of the Year. Still, he’s a player that has 32 interceptions and could provide some veteran savvy for a cheaper cost.
“At 30 years old, Peters isn’t the player he used to be, as he allowed a passer rating of 113.7 last season. But Peters remains a decent starter and could provide a steadying veteran presence in the secondary. His next contract shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive either,” Davenport wrote in the piece.
In addition to Peters, the Lions were suggested another veteran by Davenport in the form of Troy Hill, formally of the Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots. Hill has been a journeyman, but has 334 tackles, eight interceptions and three defensive touchdowns in his career along with experience in plenty of roles, which Davenport admits could make him appealing.
“If the Lions want to add veteran talent at cornerback without using a big chunk of their $15 million in cap space, Hill could make for a good target. The 31-year-old isn’t a world-beater but has started 55 games in his career and has experience playing all over the back end,” Davenport said.
These kind of deals would fit the mold of what Brad Holmes has done so far as general manager and could do again. Rolling the dice on solid veteran value buys instead of getting tied down to long-term contracts might be the way the Lions look to approach improving their team for the future.
Davenport also made a suggestion for a younger player that could come into the mix in Detroit and help at this position of need.
Joey Porter Jr. Called Another Lions Fit
Not only could the Lions add a veteran or two, they could look in the direction of a youngster in the 2023 NFL draft to fill a void. In that case, Davenport sees Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. as a possible top fit.
As he explained, the Big Ten cornerback could join forces with a rival Ohio State Buckeye to fortify Detroit’s backfield.
“He’s a talented, physical player with all kinds of potential. If he is as advertised, Porter and Okudah could combine to form an imposing duo for years to come,” Davenport wrote.
In terms of Porter, there is a lot to like about the young cornerback. He’s been battle tested in the Big Ten and has elite NFL bloodlines considering former Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter is his father.
Clearly, Porter is his own man in terms of his play, though, which is something that he has proven time and again when playing for Penn State. Statistically, he’s been solid given he has racked up 112 total tackles, one interception and 20 passes defended in a four year career with the Nittany Lions.
A lock-down option like Porter would represent a solid building block for a very needy roster in terms of depth and elite playmaking in the backfield. He makes the cut as another potential solution for the Lions.
Lions Secondary Struggled Most in 2022
In terms of these suggestions, they are good ones for the Lions. Detroit’s secondary was arguably the worst group on the team 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 as well. The Lions have solid pieces like Jerry Jacobs and Will Harris, but not nearly enough depth at the position, which proved itself most of the year.
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. To this end, Bleacher Report’s suggestions for the team make sense.