Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
To Choose a Successor – Cornerback
Another need that I had expected the Lions to address in free agency is cornerback. Rashean Mathis was no lock to return, but even with his eventual return now a reality we all know that father time is undefeated. Earlier in the off-season, I’ve had running back in lockstep with offensive line for the top spot, and while it’s still a need it has been trumped by the need to prevent the secondary from evaporating.
Last season the Lions relied on the development of Darius Slay, who was all kinds of bad for most of his rookie year. That faith paid off and Slay is now recognized as one of the best young corners in the league, a rising name with national recognition.
The team was (mercifully) never in play for Justin Gilbert, but they passed on talented corners like Kyle Fuller, Jason Verrett, and Darqueze Dennard due to the development of Slay and the continued strong play of Rashean Mathis. Mathis has become the elder statesman in Detroit, but even if he plays well this season he cannot be counted on to continue his high level of play forever (nor should he).
Flawed talent is the name of the game in 2015. While there are no Patrick Petersons of the bunch, this is a talented, scheme diverse group of corners headlined by the troubled Marcus Peters out of Washington and local MSU product Trae Waynes. Even if they miss out on those two…or even if they’re available…the team may opt for Utah swing DB Eric Rowe, who blew up the combine, or Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson.
The team may opt to stay with nickelbacks Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson, but until we know for sure who is going to start in 2016, CB remains a Detroit Lions draft need for the bajillionth year in a row.
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