Most interesting position battle for the Detroit Lions unveiled
The Detroit Lions will certainly foster a competitive environment, but the most interesting position battle they have has been highlighted by Pro Football Focus.
Off a 3-13-1 season, not much should be promised to very many Detroit Lions players. The competition for roster spots and starting jobs should be wide open in some spots, especially in the linebacking corps and secondary of Aaron Glenn’s defense.
It’s far to assume head coach Dan Campbell, and the rest of the coaching staff, will be open-minded when it comes to who can and will earn spots. An undrafted free agent? A late-round draft pick? Someone waived by another team? If you’re better than the guy next to you, you will get a shot without prejudice toward someone with more experience, a nicer contract, etc.
Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus projected the 22-man starting lineups for each NFL team, with a final blurb on the most interesting position battle for each team. The projected starters for the Lions can been seen there, but the most interesting position battle is the part most worthy of attention.
Detroit Lions most interesting position battle is indeed intriguing
Here’s what Linsey tabbed as the most interesting position battle for the Lions.
"Most interesting position battle: CornerbackAmani Oruwariye is the closest thing that Detroit has to a locked-in starter after he allowed just a 60.2 passer rating on throws into his coverage in 2021, but that number is a little bit deceiving when compared to a 60.3 PFF coverage grade.Jeffrey Okudah and free-agent acquisition Mike Hughes will compete for the other starting job on the outside. Hughes played well in that role for the Chiefs last season (72.2 PFF coverage grade), but the Lions will be hoping that a healthy Okudah looks more like the prospect they drafted inside the top five of the 2020 NFL Draft. One of them could kick inside to nickel, or Detroit could opt to keep Parker there after he carved out a role as an undrafted free agent last season."
Oruwariye is the only Lions’ cornerback who is locked into a role, likely shadowing the opponent’s top wide receiver after showing he can be a shutdown corner last year. After that, Linsey mentioned Jeff Okudah and Mike Hughes competing for the other starting job on the outside and AJ Parker in the slot.
Okudah is working his way back from a torn Achilles in Week 1 last season, as the No. 3 overall pick in 2020 enters his pivotal third NFL season. Hughes adds experience to the mix, and he could play in the slot or outside. Parker earned the primary slot corner role out of camp last year as an undrafted rookie.
Add rookie seventh-round pick Chase Lucas and Will Harris, who became a safety/cornerback hybrid last season (now affectionately labeled a “cafety” by Campbell), to the mix and the Lions have plenty of competition for spots and snaps at cornerback. And it’s much needed, after only one corner besides Oruwariye intercepted a pass last season (Parker, who had one interception).