2. Jamel Dean
2022 Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dean is Pro Football Focus’ No.5-ranked free agent in the 2023 class. The cap-strapped Buccaneers won’t be able to bring him back at his market value, so he’s as good as gone.
A third-round pick out of Auburn in 2019, Dean has been a prominent piece of the Buccaneers’ secondary from the start and an underrated player (at least a 74.6 PFF coverage grade in each of his four seasons).
In 15 games last season he had 57 tackles (45 solo), two interceptions and eight pass breakups. Despite battling a toe issue late in the season, he posted a passer rating against of just 86.0. In 2021, he post a 50.0 opponent’s passer rating–a mark befitting of a shutdown corner.
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. He’s just the kind of corner the Lions could use as they rebuild the cornerback depth chart, and bolster a poor pass defense. He also won’t turn 27 until into next season (Oct. 15), so he could a long-term piece in Detroit.
If the Lions are going to dive into deeper end of the free agent cornerback pool, it might be for Dean.