Carlton Davis offers confident promise to be exactly what the Lions need

Carlton Davis wasted no time during his introductory presser to declare he will be exactly what the Lions need in their secondary.
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As the first day of 2024 NFL free agency winded down, news came the Detroit Lions had agreed to a trade to acquire cornerback Carlton Davis from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It wasn't the splashy move some Lions' fans have wanted, and some people think should have been in play, but Davis adds experience to a cornerback room that needed it.

Over the final six games last season, including the playoffs, here's what the opponent's top wide receiver did to the Lions.

  • Justin Jefferson: Six receptions, 141 yards, one touchdown
  • CeeDee Lamb: 13 receptions, 227 yards, one touchdown
  • Justin Jefferson: 12 receptions, 192 yards, one touchdown
  • Puka Nacua: nine receptions, 181 yards, one touchdown
  • Mike Evans: eight receptions, 147 yards, one touchdown
  • Deebo Samuel: eight receptions, 89 yards

If you're scoring at home, that's 56 catches (on 72 targets) for 977 yards and five touchdowns. Excuses can be made for Cameron Sutton-he's not a No. 1 corner (despite a multi-year contract that may say otherwise), a toe issue that had his status for Week 17 against Dallas (and Lamb) up in the air, etc. But it's clear the Lions need someone who is able to neutralize the opponent's best wide receiver.

There are man coverage numbers, from last year and presumably before that, that say Davis is a "lock down corner".

No less an authority than Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, based on a matchup during the 2022 season, would absolutely say Davis is a lock down corner. The Buccaneers relied on him to be that guy, with size (6-foot-1 206 pounds) and length that allows him to take away the opponent's No. 1 wide receiver when asked to in man coverage.

On two separate occasions, former Buccaneers' head coach Bruce Arians called Davis one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

During his introductory press conference in Allen Park on Wednesday, after the trade to acquire him became official, Davis wasted little time to make a promise.

Carlton Davis confidently declares he will be exactly what Lions need him to be

After starting out talking about what it was like facing the Lions as an opponent (twice last year), Davis addressed a question that seems to have been something like "What are the Lions getting with you?"

"You about to get a lockdown corner,” Davis said. “You about to have one side (of the field) just, like, unavailable. That’s what I do. I’m here to take the No. 1 receiver on these teams. I’m here to deny the ball, I’m here to take the ball away.”

Davis' performance has dropped off some recently, as he has missed 16 games over the last three seasons. Over the last two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus, Davis has allowed 109 receptions for 1,477 yards, nine touchdowns and a combined passer rating of 93.9.

In response to a follow-up question that questioned him being a lock down corner, Davis was not having it.

“I’ve done it, taken guys out of the game before. Check the film,” Davis said. “Turn on the Tampa Bay film. Turn on me against top receivers and see their stats when I’m on them. Not when they’re in zone. Not when they’re in the slot running away from me. Not when I’m in zone. When I’m man-on-man, press. Turn on that film, and then let me know what you think.”

"There’s a reason why I’m here and why they wanted me to be here," he said. "If you do your research, you know."

Davis clearly has confidence befitting a No. 1, "lock down" corner, and there are signs he has the game to back it up. The Lions are hoping he will deliver, and with a contact extension in play as he enters the final year of his current deal he will have extra motivation to do so (not that he needs it).

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