In what will be an ongoing series, I will be taking a look at each position on the Detroit Lions roster and examine where things stand, who has the best shot at making the final 53-man roster, and whether or not we improved in this area. Next up, safety.
Glover Quin was a solid acquisition last year during free agency when safety was arguably the most pressing need the Lions had.
For the Texans, Quin played all over the field ranging from free safety to strong safety, and often times slot cornerback.
Quin was limited to playing the majority of his snaps at the strong safety position for the Lions last year, with Louis Delmas as the deep safety.
With Delmas leaving for Miami, Quin will be inheriting the free safety role, a position where I believe is a more natural fit for his skillset.
Chances of making final roster: 100% (starting free safety)
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The Lions had a big need at strong safety after the departure of Louis Delmas. Signing Ihedigbo is sort of a lateral move if you ask me, but it makes sense. He played under Teryl Austin for the last couple of years and will be familiar with the defensive scheme.
Ihedigbo is not a long-term option for the Lions, but he will be a necessary stopgap player assuming the Lions attempt to get younger at the position in the near future. He’s a solid tackler and a perfect fit as a traditional strong safety with limited coverage responsibilities.
Chances of making final roster: 100% (starting strong safety)
Earlier this year the Detroit Lions and Don Carey agreed to terms on a contract extension through 2016 for nearly $3 million. He was rarely called upon last year with both Quin and Delmas avoiding the injury bug, but still managed to get 200 snaps on defense.
Pro Football Focus gave him the third worst grade on the team behind Kris Durham and Chris Houston, and also the worst pass coverage grade on the team. Hopefully that’s just a case of the numbers being too small of a sample size, because the Lions will need all the help they can get in the secondary.
Chances of making final roster: 99% (top backup safety, can also play slot corner if needed)
Gomes was drafted in the fifth-round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins and started 8 of 30 games for them. He was cut after only two full seasons with the Redskins, and was acquired by the Lions prior to the start of the 2013 season.
Gomes saw very few snaps on defense, but did contribute on special teams. If he has any impact at all this year, it’ll likely be on special teams once again, unless someone above him on the depth chart falls to an injury.
Chances of making final roster: 45% (backup safety, special teams)
With the First Pick
Isa-Abdul Quddus spent his last three years with the Saints and was released in early January of this year.
The Lions ended up signing him the day after Super Bowl XLVIII. It came as a surprise to most Saints fans, as he was well-liked among the community, and some had high hopes for him.
Quddus has decent range for a free safety and may prove to be the best cover safety behind Quin by the end of camp. If he can make a good impression on special teams, then that would only help his chances.
Chances of making final roster: 45% (backup safety)
Jerome Couplin III
Couplin is considered a favorite to make the practice squad, and also has a decent chance at making the 53-man roster.
He stands at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and likes to go by the nickname “The Osprey.” That sentence alone leads me to believe that he will be a fan favorite going into camp, and it helps that he has an 80 inch wingspan to go with his big frame.
Couplin was a sound tackler at William & Mary, and when you look at his tape it becomes evident, so it is possible he could contribute on special teams right away.
Chances of making final roster: 20% (possible special teams contributor, most likely practice squad member)
If Gabe Lynn wants any chance at staying with the Lions, he’d have to continue making hits like these.
Chances of making final roster: 10% (practice squad?)
Did They Improve?
Despite being loathed by Lions fans, Louis Delmas had a fairly average season last year contrary to popular belief. I feel like the addition of James Ihedigbo is a lateral move for the Lions, but does help that Quin will be moving to a more natural position at free safety.
There is not a whole lot of depth behind Quin and Ihedigbo, so the Lions will need to pray that those two stay healthy, or we’re in for another long and bumpy ride.