Detroit Lions secondary concerns a thing of the past?

Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images) /

For the Detroit Lions, their secondary has been an area of concern. But after an overhaul this offseason, are those concerns now a thing of the past?

For years, one of the biggest areas of concern for the Detroit Lions was their secondary. Specifically, who was starting opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay.

Last year’s answer was free agent Rashaan Melvin. The veteran cornerback started 12 games for the Motor City in 2019. He’s now playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But the Lions eliminated that question entirely when they decided to trade the 29-year old Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles following his third-straight Pro Bowl bid. The veteran, wanting a new contract, inked a three-year, $50.5 million extension with Philly.

In exchange for Slay, the Lions got two draft picks and a more pressing need to secure their secondary this offseason. Those two selections resulted in Ohio State guard Jonah Jackson (after a trade) and Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus.

As for how the Lions addressed their biggest positional need, Detroit used their most valuable draft selection. With the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Motown made Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah their choice.

The top-rated secondary player in his class, Okudah comes to Detroit as a Day One starter and as the anointed replacement for Slay. As for the question who will start opposite of Okudah, the Lions signed another former first-rounder for that role.

The 22nd overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, cornerback Desmond Trufant was signed by the Lions this offseason after spending his first seven years with the Atlanta Falcons. The 29-year old Trufant was a Pro Bowler in 2015 and is still just 29-years old.

Last season, Trufant recorded 18 total tackles. seven pass deflections, and four interceptions in an injury-shortened (toe, arm) nine games for Atlanta. The Falcons saved $10.75 million by releasing their longtime veteran. One of the best free-agent corners on the open market, the Lions scooped Trufant up and signed him to a two-year, $21 million deal.

But exactly how will Trufant fit in with the Lions? According to Justin Rogers of The Detroit News, the scheme should utilize the former Pro Bowler’s strengths.

"“Atlanta, under head coach and former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, played a mix of man and zone coverages, with Cover-3 being the preferred choice of the latter. While the Lions play a healthier percentage of man-to-man compared to the Falcons — which is better to maximize Trufant’s skills … “"

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Fans of the Detroit Lions no longer have to ask who is starting opposite of Darius Slay. Instead, the trio of Jeff Okudah, Desmond Trufant, and Justin Coleman represents one of the strongest positional groups on the entire roster. With Tracy Walker, Will Harris, and Duron Harmon at safety, concerns about the secondary in Detroit could be a thing of the past.