The Lions’ safety unit underwent a serious transition, after veteran leader Glover Quin‘s release and subsequent retirement after the 2018 season. The Lions looked like they had more than enough pieces to overcome that loss, but like so many other groups, they simply didn’t get enough from this unit to keep them from losing their most games since 2012.
Tracy Walker was looking to build on a promising rookie season in 2019, and for stretches this year, he looked like the Lions’ best defensive back. He recorded his only interception of the season in Week 1 but had a handful of other impressive plays of the course of the year. He is a solid player, but the Lions will need him to take another big step next year and make plays on a more regular basis.
Veteran Quandre Diggs was stunningly traded to the Seattle Seahawks in October for a pair of draft picks, sapping the Lions of one of their most dependable defensive players of the last several seasons. Diggs’ play up to that point did seem to have declined somewhat; he was missing a surprising amount of tackles and hadn’t recorded an interception since the finale of 2018. His outspoken nature, however, may have been the deciding factor.
Diggs’ departure also signaled an increased role for rookie Will Harris, who played 92 percent of the defensive snaps in the six games after Diggs’ exit after playing just 38 percent of them in the six weeks prior. He made some strides in those contests, but his play was less-than-inspiring overall. He finished the year with just 36 total tackles, 1.0 sack, and no interceptions. He and Walker are the future at the position for the Lions, whether that is a positive development remains to be seen.
Veteran Tavon Wilson quietly had another strong season for the Lions, contributing his regular strong defense and solid leadership, and appearing in all 16 games. He is a free agent but could be back on a short-term deal.