2. S DeShon Elliott
Rookie Who Could Take His Job: Kerby Joseph
If the season started tomorrow, Elliott would be the starting safety paired with Tracy Walker for Detroit and no one would complain. In 2020 with the Baltimore Ravens, Elliott started all 16 games and was pretty productive (80 total tackles, two forced fumbles, four pass breakups).
But that’s the rub with Elliott. He missed his entire rookie season in 2018, then big portions of the 2019 and 2021 campaigns (six games played in each) due to injuries. The Lions took an easy flier on him, but he has to prove he can stay on the field.
Enter Joseph, the Lions third-round pick this year (No. 97) out of the University of Illinois. He spent just one full season at safety for the Fighting Illini, but it was a nice one (five interceptions, 57 total tackles). He looks like the type of ball hawk the Lions could use in their split-safety alignment to pair with Walker, who’s a good player but has not created many takeaways in his career.
Elliott is the nominal second starting safety for the Lions until further notice, and Joseph will probably have a prominent role on special teams if he’s not playing a lot of defensive snaps. But there’s a chance Joseph just beats out Elliott in an open competition (as there should be one), and the Lions go with him as the starter with Walker.