2. Buccaneers CB Jamel Dean
A third-round pick out of Auburn in 2019, Dean has been a prominent piece of the Buccaneers’ secondary from the start. In 15 games this season he has 57 tackles (45 solo), two interceptions and eight pass breakups. Despite battling a toe isse late in the season, he posted a passer rating against of just 86.0. In 2021, he an 50.0 opponent’s passer rating–a mark fit for a shutdown corner.
The Lions have serious questions in their cornerback room looking to next season. Amani Oruwariye, Will Harris and Mike Hughes are free agents, and all three may be gone. Jeff Okudah ended what started off as a promising season on a dour note, and his long-term future in Detroit is an automatic question as the Lions approach a decision on his fifth-year option.
It feels like a lock the Lions will draft a cornerback or two in April. But a dip into free agency would be very well-warranted, and Dean comes in at No. 6 in Pro Football Focus’ early top-50 ranking of 2023 free agents.
Dean has good size (6-foot-1, 206 pounds), which he matches with aggressiveness (at times to a fault, in terms of jumping routes and ceding big plays), athleticism and physicality. Just the kind of corner the Lions could use as they rebuild the cornerback depth chart and bolster a poor pass defense. He won’t turn 27 until into next season (Oct. 15), so he could a long-term piece in Detroit.
PFF noted the three-year, $44.5 million deal Buccaneers’ cornerback Carlton Davis got last year as a possible benchmark for Dean this offseason. Spotrac projects his market value at $8.7 million per year, also on a three-year deal for what it’s worth.