Darius Slay, Detroit Lions

(Photograph by Leon Halip/Getty Photos)

Main as much as NFL coaching camps, SideLion Report will preview every place group for the Detroit Lions, and examine it with the identical unit from the remainder of the NFC North. At the moment, we have a look at cornerbacks.

Few divisions within the NFL will boast the type of harmful aerial assaults that the NFC North will flaunt in 2019. As such, the Detroit Lions and their divisional counterparts will want excessive degree performances from their cornerbacks to disrupt opposing passing video games and compete at a excessive degree this season.

At cornerback, every staff within the division has a strong mixture of confirmed veterans, and proficient younger gamers who might be aiming for larger roles on the place this yr. There are additionally a sequence of intriguing positional battles that would emerge in coaching camps, in addition to a notable contractual battle price monitoring.

Protection is clearly a essential ingredient in as we speak’s NFL, and cornerback is likely one of the hardest positions to grasp, notably for youthful gamers. Right here, we look at the outlooks for every NFC North staff’s cornerback unit, beginning with the Lions:

Detroit Lions

Key returning gamers: Darius Slay, Jamal Agnew, Teez Tabor, Mike Ford

New additions: Justin Coleman, Rashaan Melvin, Amani Oruwariye (Rookie)

Key losses: Nevin Lawson, DeShawn Shead

Darius Slay has developed into the most effective, most revered corners within the recreation since being drafted within the second spherical by the Lions in 2013. He has became fairly a ballhawk too, selecting off 11 passes over the past two years. He’s the primary man for the Lions on the again finish, however he’s underpaid by NFL requirements at his place. He let the Lions know the way he felt by eschewing Organized Staff Actions this spring.

Regardless of his alleged contract squabble which saved him away from the Lions’ spring exercises, the Lions’ probably anticipate having the two-time Professional Bowler prepared for his or her Week 1 matchup towards the Arizona Cardinals. They’d higher hope he’s, as a result of there are some query marks behind him within the cornerback room.

Justin Coleman, who performed for Lions head coach Matt Patricia with the New England Patriots from 2015-2016, was signed rapidly in free company from the Seattle Seahawks. He’s a extremely efficient slot nook, the place he was acquired to primarily occupy. He may transform one of many shrewdest offseason acquisitions within the division. Might he see snaps on the surface as effectively if others wrestle there?

Jamal Agnew, who missed ten video games in his sophomore season attributable to a knee harm, stays an choice within the defensive backfield, notably in nickel and dime packages. Nonetheless, his strongest contribution will probably stay on particular groups. The Lions would love for him to return to his rookie kind, when he housed two punts. Any developments as a cornerback can be a pleasant bonus.

Veteran Rashaan Melvin, sure, one other former Patriot, affords good measurement on the surface, and can probably be a favourite to begin reverse Slay when the season begins. Melvin’s greatest yr got here in 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts, when he recorded three interceptions and yielded a formidable 77.9 general mark from Professional Soccer Focus’ (PFF) superior grading system. Might he return to that degree beneath Patricia, his former defensive coordinator in New England?

Melvin was primarily swapped for veteran Nevin Lawson, who joined Melvin’s previous staff, the Oakland Raiders, after being launched by Detroit in March. After Lawson did not document an interception in 5 years with the Lions, it was time to maneuver on.

Teez Tabor will probably want a monster coaching camp to make the roster in 2019 after two tough seasons to begin his profession. Deep pace is his largest disadvantage, and he’ll face competitors from children equivalent to Mike Ford, who appeared in seven video games for the Lions final yr, and rookie Amani Oruwariye.

Oruwairye surprisingly slipped to the fifth spherical on this yr’s draft, and will find yourself being a steal for Detroit. Any main contributions from him this yr are unlikely although, because the Lions may very well be hesitant to throw him into the hearth instantly, save for a participant forward of him on the depth chart struggling an harm.

The Lions have struggled to discover a constant accomplice for Slay in recent times, they usually made a concerted effort to repair that this offseason. It gained’t matter nonetheless, if their star defender isn’t on the sector in September, although that looks like an implausible, worst case situation.