Young Cornerback Earns Accolade as Lions’ ‘Most Improved’ Player

Amani Oruwariye

Getty Amani Oruwariye enters the field before a Lions game against Philadelphia in 2021.

The Detroit Lions are struggling through what’s been a difficult 0-8-1 season so far, and as a result of that, it can be hard to find the positives in anything that has transpired thus far.

Even though that’s been the case, there’s been some standout performances from many Lions players week-in and week-out that have been impressive enough to show there is some hope for the team into the future.

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Recently, with the league moving past the halfway point of the season, Bleacher Report and writer Kristopher Knox took a look at identifying every team’s most-improved player for this season on the field in 2021. For Detroit, cornerback Amani Oruwariye was the selection thanks to what he has done on the field so far this year.

As Knox wrote, Oruwariye’s career-high in interceptions as well as coverage improvement show a player who is taking all the right steps at a critical point on the field. As a result, Knox believes that Oruwariye is making a case for sticking around for the future.

Considering Oruwariye is a former fifth-round pick, it might be a mild surprise to see him making these strides so fast. Nevertheless, that’s great news for Detroit.

Oruwariye Becoming Lions’ Best Cornerback for 2021

From the first game of the season, the Lions were immediately under fire at the key position in the defensive backfield. In the first game, they lost top cornerback Jeff Okudah to a season-ending injury. Detroit would go on to lose a key rookie in Ifeatu Melifonwu in the second week of the year. As a result of this, the team has asked youngsters like Jerry Jacobs, AJ Parker and Bobby Price to step up. All of them have done an admirable job for the team thus far this year.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, November 17, Lions head coach Dan Campbell even sung the praises of Oruwariye for the work he did against the Steelers in Week 10.

“I love the way he played with confidence. He was up there, he was competitive, he was in their face. The early penalty didn’t affect him. He went right back to work and man, I appreciated that. That’s what you’re looking for,” Campbell told the media.

It’s easy to lose sight of what a desperate position the team would be in had they lost Oruwariye as well. All the cornerback has done has been hold down the fort in a major way for the team and look like he is the best cornerback on the roster in the meantime. That’s been significant news for the Lions, who wanted to see Oruwariye continue to show his development in a big way. Given what has gone on around him, it isn’t a stretch to say Oruwariye is showing as the best cornerback on the team given his age and career trajectory.

Oruwariye’s Career Stats and Highlights

During the 2019 season as he started into the league, Oruwariye didn’t do much statistically for the team early on as he battled a knee injury most of the early part of the year, and as a result, his stats weren’t that robust. Oruwariye finished 2019 with 2 interceptions and 19 tackles for the Lions, but has been a player who has delivered before given his work in college. During the 2020 season on the field, he has 53 tackles, 1 interception and 7 passes defended, meaning he was easily able to eclipse his statistical work from last season, setting him on a good trajectory for the future.

While playing for Penn State, Oruwariye put up 108 tackles and 8 interceptions while scoring 1 touchdown. Obviously, the Lions have to hope that as he comes along, Oruwariye can manage to become the ball hawk he was for the Nittany Lions for years. Here’s a look at some highlights:

So far in Detroit, he’s shown an ability to step up and stick in coverage which is great news for the Lions. It only serves to prove how good Oruwariye has been consistently this season and how important he could be for the future.

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