The Detroit Lions have had some success in their defensive secondary playing unheralded cornerbacks. Darius Slay has blossomed after being a high second-round pick, but players like Quandre Diggs and Nevin Lawson were able to contribute as late-round picks, playing significant roles last season when healthy. Some feel Detroit could still use an outside corner to pair with Slay. In what is considered a deep class of defensive backs, let’s look at five options for Detroit with that 21st pick in the first round.
Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers running back Wayne Gallman (9) works to control the ball while defended by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Marlon Humphrey (26) during the fourth quarter in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Marlon Humphrey is a physical, press specialist with a frame similar to that of Lions corner Darius Slay. At 6-foot-1, 200 lbs he can match up with some of the bigger wide receivers in the NFL. Playing under Nick Saban at Alabama never hurts, and while Humphrey isn’t considered up there with Marshon Lattimore of Ohio State, he’s a pretty safe bet to go late 1st-round. When you come out of a talented defense, some players are naturally overvalued and some are undervalued. The question remains: Is he Landon Collins or Dee Milner? The Lions would have to strongly consider Humphrey if he’s there at 21, barring any major setbacks at the Scouting Combine.
Jan 2, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; USC Trojans defensive back Adoree’ Jackson (2) intercepts a pass intended for Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins (3) the 103rd Rose Bowl against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Rose Bowl. USC defeated Penn State 52-49 in the highest scoring game in Rose Bowl history. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jackson has unbelievable athleticism which has gotten him playing time on offense, defense and as a special teams contributor. He’s shown an ability to play well wherever he lines up. He’s got a little bit of that do-it-all, Jabrill Peppers-type of appeal, only Jackson has a more clearly defined corner role as he comes into the NFL. He is a little bit on the small side at 5-foot-11, 185 lbs. With improving technique, Jackson has the foot quickness to make up for when he gets behind a receiver. He is not bound to an outside role, mainly due to his multi-faceted skill set. Jackson should go mid-late first, according to most way-too-early projections.
Nov 21, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Jalen Tabor (31) intercepts the ball from Florida Atlantic Owls tight end Tyler Cameron (3) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Teez Tabor is the kind of big, fast defensive back fans in Detroit have been wanting to pair with Darius Slay for a few years now. Tabor is 6-foot-1, 195 lbs, with the speed to complement his rangy frame. He and fellow Florida Gators defensive back, Quincy Wilson (see below) had their way with opposing S.E.C. receivers. The two corners have a little bit of the Darius Slay-Johnthan Banks dynamic they had back at Mississippi State in 2012. Tabor will likely get more credit for the athlete he is at the NFL Scouting combine. This league loves big corners and Tabor has the makings of a first-round pick.
December 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Shay Fields (1) is tackled by Washington Huskies defensive back Sidney Jones (26) during the first quarter in the Pac-12 championship at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Sidney Jones is compared to 2015 first-round stud, Marcus Peters, of the Kansas City Chiefs. While Jones has a rangy frame at 6-foot-1, he is fairly light at just 170 lbs. As the Atlanta Falcons proved by getting to the Super Bowl with a bunch of quick guys, speed is becoming more important than size at most positions other than defensive tackle. Jones is a playmaker, picking off three passes last season for College Football Playoff participant, Washington. He’s better in coverage than most of the guys on this list, yet not quite as dominant physically. Right now, Jones is being projected in mock drafts somewhere around the twenties of the first round. The Lions select at 21.
Oct 15, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Quincy Wilson (6) intercepted the ball and ran it back for a touchdown against the Missouri Tigers during the second quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Quincy Wilson is another dominant Florida Gators defensive back that is projected to go either middle or late first-round. Maybe the best fit for that big, outside corner role Detroit could stand to upgrade. Compared to the aforementioned Sidney Jones, Wilson is a whopping 45 lbs heavier – at 6-foot-1, 215 lbs. Scouts view him as a guy that may be better suited at safety. He’s physical enough, and some view his lack of foot-speed as something that could hurt him against smaller receivers such as Detroit’s Golden Tate. Wilson has the measurables, but does he have the coverage ability? That is yet to be determined, but right now, he looks like a first-rounder.