Cornerback soars to high of group wants

This is the seventh a part of our collection previewing the Detroit Lions’ positional wants heading into free company. The negotiating window formally opens at midday Monday, and offers will be signed beginning on Wednesday. Today: Defensive backs. Previously: Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers | Tight ends | Offensive line | Defensive line

Under contract: CB Jeff Okudah, CB Jerry Jacobs, CB Mac McCain, S Tracy Walker, S Kerby Joseph, S Ifeatu Melifonwu

Expiring contracts: CB Amani Oruwariye, CB Mike Hughes, S DeShon Elliott, S Will Harris, S C.J. Moore

Best obtainable: CB James Bradberry (Eagles), CB Jonathan Jones (Patriots), CB Jamel Dean (Buccaneers), S C.J. Gardner-Johnson (Eagles), S Jessie Bates (Bengals), S Jordan Poyer (Bills)

Other names to look at: CB Marcus Peters (Ravens), CB Cameron Sutton (Steelers), CB Patrick Peterson (Vikings), CB Rock-Ya Sin (Raiders), CB Byron Murphy (Cardinals), CB Bobby McCain (Eagles), CB Shaquill Griffin (Jaguars), CB Eli Apple (Bengals), CB Bradley Roby (Saints), CB Emmanuel Moseley (49ers), S Vonn Bell (Bengals), S Jimmie Ward (49ers), S Julian Love (Giants), S Taylor Rapp (Rams), S Adrian Amos (Packers), S Jonathan Owens (Texans)

Breakdown: The Lions had one of many worst cross defenses within the league final season. Now with solely Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs again, plus the offseason addition of backup Mac McCain, none of whom is below contract past 2023 (pending the choice on Okudah’s fifth-year possibility), yeah, it’s simple to see why the Lions have been linked to so many cornerbacks in mock drafts. It’s their most speedy want, and so they want a younger playmaker round whom to rebuild. They ought to have a number of good choices even when they go one other path at No. 6.

But free company comes first, and additions really feel inevitable there too due to the depth points on the place. Unless they need to re-sign Amani Oruwariye or Mike Hughes, though neither appears probably, and wouldn’t improve a foul state of affairs anyway. Oruwariye drove off a cliff final 12 months, turned the worst cornerback within the league in keeping with ProFootballFocus, and completed within the high 10 for penalties regardless of getting benched by midseason. He’s nearly definitely out. Hughes is extra probably for a return — he was enjoying properly sufficient to siphon snaps from a struggling Okudah down the stretch — and might play each on the skin in addition to within the slot. That’s a beneficial commodity in a backup cornerback. But right here’s betting they search for a greater possibility.

James Bradberry, Jonathan Jones and Jamel Dean are the highest of this 12 months’s market. Don’t count on the Lions to swing for these fences. That hasn’t been Brad Holmes’ strategy since taking up as common supervisor, and doubtless received’t be this 12 months both.

“We don’t need to acquire, man, these high-level blue(-chip players),” head coach Dan Campbell mentioned on the mix. ”You’re paying probably the most for these guys ‘cause they’re rated the No. 1 man in free company at that place. We simply must get higher. Let’s simply get higher in an space that we have to get higher at and give attention to that. I believe that’s at all times been the main target.”

With that mentioned, there are some good choices headed for open waters. One identify to look at is Emmanuel Moseley, who performed 45 video games over the past 5 years in San Francisco. He began all 16 video games he performed the final two years, though as you’ll be able to see, he additionally missed half these seasons with accidents, together with an ACL he suffered in October final 12 months. But he was permitting a passer ranking of 63.5 to that time. Good gamers who come at discounted costs on account of harm is the type of factor Holmes likes, reminiscent of DJ Chark final season, or Tyrell Williams the 12 months earlier than that. Williams was a bust, however Chark helped elevate the offense as soon as he bought wholesome final 12 months.

Another to look at is Rock Ya-Sin, one other starting-level cornerback who might be discounted due to accidents. He performed solely 24 video games the final two years, however began 17 of them and was a top-30 nook in protection in keeping with ProFootballFocus.

If Holmes is prepared to open up the checkbook, Cameron Sutton and Patrick Peterson are confirmed veterans who would supply some expertise for the youngest protection within the league, and one of many youngest, most unproven secondaries.

At security, the Lions are in a lot better form. They signed captain Tracy Walker to a three-year contract in free company final 12 months, and even when he was misplaced to an Achilles within the first month of the season, then-rookie Kerby Joseph stepped in capably, main the group in takeaways. That consists of three interceptions off Aaron Rodgers, one thing nobody had carried out earlier than, rookie or in any other case.

Walker and Joseph now appear like the long run on the again ranks of the protection, however there are wants behind them. DeShon Elliott is headed again to free company after signing with Detroit final 12 months, and is predicted to pursue a greater beginning alternative elsewhere. If he finds it, the Lions will want a 3rd security, a task that’s deployed rather a lot on this protection, and will probably be much more crucial in 2023 whereas Walker works his approach again from the Achilles.

Taylor Rapp could be an intriguing match, given Brad Holmes was the faculty scouting director when the Rams chosen Rapp within the second spherical of the 2019 draft. He had some points in protection final 12 months, however he’s a four-year starter who will most likely make an excessive amount of cash and discover an excessive amount of enjoying time some place else. A extra real looking possibility is somebody like Jonathan Owens, a longtime backup in Houston who moved right into a beginning position final season. He allowed a passer ranking of 128.5 in protection, however was higher close to the road of scrimmage and within the slot, racking up 125 tackles.

Another identify to look at — and it’s a well-known one round these elements — is Jabrill Peppers. The former Michigan star has made 64 NFL begins, however simply 10 over the past two seasons. His 2021 season was reduce brief by an ACL harm, then he signed a one-year deal to be the third security in New England final 12 months. He had 60 tackles whereas enjoying rather a lot within the field and on the road of scrimmage, which may complement what Detroit already has in Walker and Joseph.

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