Versatility is the new word in the Detroit Lions secondary

NFC Divisional Playoffs - New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles
NFC Divisional Playoffs - New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

As the Detroit Lions' secondary was remodeled this offseason, a clear premium was placed on versatility.

While rebuilding the Detroit Lions secondary this offseason, general Manager Brad Holmes made it a point to bring in players who are versatile. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn values that versatility highly in the back end of his defense, and he has it in spades now.

Free agent addition Cameron Sutton played his first six seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He can play in the slot, on the outside, etc., and started his NFL career listed as a defensive back, not just a corner.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson had Glenn as his postion coach in New Orleans for two seasons (2019-2020). He lined up at various positions during his three years with the Saints, including nickel corner, safety, and linebacker. Gardner-Johnson played safety last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, and all he did was tie for the league lead in interceptions with six.

Among incumbents in the Lions' secondary, Will Harris played most of three seasons as a safety (2019-2021) before becoming a slot corner last season. Ifeatu Melifonwu, drafted as a cornerback in 2021, made the move to safety last year. Savion Smith, who is back in the fold after a scary neck injury last season, is a cornerback who started the aforementioned game he was injured in at safety.

Another piece of versatility was added to Detroit Lions secondary in the draft

In the second round of April's draft, the Lions got what looks to be a steal in safety Brian Branch. He did not stand out in athletic metrics at the NFL Combine, but he lined up all over at Alabama and you can't play for Nick Saban if you're not any good.

The Lions can line up their defensive backs in different formations and put their players in the best position to make an impact. As a sign of that, Gardner-Johnson, Branch and Smith are listed as a "DB" on the official roster released as OTAs got going.

Holmes saw the Lions' biggest weakness, and he attacked it aggressively this offseason. With the versatile pieces now in place in the secondary, improvement to becoming one of the better pass defenses in the league can easily follow.

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