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Posts tagged with "Darius Slay"

Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon could be an option for the Lions in the middle rounds of next week’s draft. (AP File Photo)

Defensive back

Current starters: CB Darius Slay, CB Nevin Lawson, NB Quandre Diggs, FS Glover Quin, SS Tavon Wilson
Current reserves: Joe Hayden, Johnson Bademosi, Alex Carter, Ian Wells, Charles Washington, Rolan Milligan, Miles Killibrew, Don Carey
Best in class: Ohio State CB Marson Lattimore, Washington CB Kevin King, Ohio State CB Gareon Conley, LSU S Jamal Adams, Ohio State S Malilk Hooker
First-round possibilities for Detroit (21st overall): King, Conley, Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey, LSU CB Tre’Davious White, Michigan S Jabrill Peppers
Day 2-3 fits: Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie, Washington CB Sidney Jones, USC CB Adoree’ Jackson, Utah CB Brian Allen, Colorado CB Ahkello Witherspoon, NC State S Josh Jones
Late-round possibilities: Houston CB Brandon Wilson, Central Florida CB Shaquill Griffin, Middle Tennessee State CB/S Jeremy Cutrer, Oklahoma State S Jordan Sterns
Breakdown: At cornerback, the Lions have better depth than many realize. Darius Slay is a rising star who is under contract for another four years, giving the defense a shutdown corner around which to build. And Nevin Lawson was good last season opposite him. Not great — especially when Slay went down with hamstring injuries, forcing Lawson to be the No. 1 guy — but good. He’s an ascending player.

But there are long-term considerations to think about as well. Lawson is entering a contract year, while Quandre Diggs languished through a sophomore slump in the slot. D.J. Hayden was signed to offer him some competition there, and he could get some run on the outside too, but even he’s on a one-year deal.

Luckily for the Lions, this draft is brimming with quality cornerback play. They could use their first-round pick on a variety of corners, like the long Kevin King (6-foot-3) out of Washington. Or there’s Gareon Conley, who’s a little smaller but even stickier in coverage (13.6 QB rating allowed when he was on the outside). Or Tre’Davious White, maybe the best ballhawk of the bunch with six interceptions and three TDs on punt returns.

Or they could wait until the middle rounds and add some length in 6-foot-3 corners like Ahkello Witherspoon, who grew an extra foot in his senior year of high school, or Brian Allen. Or if they prefer a smaller, speedier option, USC’s Adoree Jackson is one of the draft’s best all-around athletes and could be a Day 1 starter at kick/punt returner.

At safety, the Lions are in even better short-term shape. They return both starters in the always dependable Glover Quin and the quietly productive Tavon Wilson, plus expect big things from Miles Killebrew after he turned in a promising rookie season. He should be ready for an expanded load after working mostly out of subpackages as a safety-linebacker hybrid last year.

But just like at corner, there are long-term needs that must be addressed. Quin played every defensive snap for the Lions last year and has been ultra reliable since joining the franchise in 2013, but he also turned 31 this offseason and is entering a contract year. Wilson is in the final year of his deal as well. In fact, Killebrew is the only safety under contract beyond 2017.

The Lions probably won’t use their first-round pick at the position — yes, Jabrill Peppers is a possibility, but I don’t see it happening with Miles Killebrew already on the roster — but this safety class is an exceptional one, which could give them a great opportunity to address a long-term need without burning an early-round pick to do it. One name to keep an eye on is Obi Melifonwu. The UConn freak is 6-foot-4 and won every event he entered at the combine. If he’s there when Detroit’s back on the clock at 53rd overall, he’ll be awfully hard to pass on.

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The Detroit Lions head into the 2017 season with no shortage of key characters and key personalities to watch who will determine how far they manage to go.

Here’s a look at the key characters to watch next season.

(Photo: Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Tim Fuller, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: www.DetroitLions.com)

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports)

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Five Detroit Lions who are on the fast track to the Pro Bowl.

 

(Photo: Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports)

The Detroit Lions didn’t get a single player to the Pro Bowl in 2016, but 2017 is a new year and certainly, the team has some contributors who are on the upward track toward getting that done.

Which players are on their way up as it relates to the game? Here’s five names to remember.

(Photo: Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports)

1. Ezekiel Ansah, DE

It wasn’t long ago — 2015 to be exact — that Ansah worked his way into the big game with a great season. Folks forget that injuries slowed his dominance this year, as a high ankle sprain complicated matters and made it so that Ansah could not run and attack the quarterback. He’ll get back to doing that next year and put himself into the discussion.

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

2. Golden Tate, WR

Tate had another 1,000 yard season and if not for a slower start to 2016, may have been in the conversation last year. There’s no reason to expect his targets to dwindle as the Lions’ top option next season, so bet on Tate being getting into the discussion and playing in an elite way next season.

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

3. Sam Martin, P

Martin was beaten out last season by Johnny Hekker, but Martin’s numbers have actually been very impressive. He beat Hekker out as it related to average yardage and long punt, but the terrible Los Angeles Rams allowed their punter to have 36 more chances at booting the ball. In the future, Martin will find himself as rising star in punting circles with his constancy, and could steal the spotlight from Hekker.

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

4. Darius Slay, CB

Slay arguably should have been in the mix last season what with all his game winning plays, but statistically, he’s got to work on getting more interceptions and putting up sexier numbers. Still, with some help from the pass rush and the backfield, Slay could get into the game. He seems to be on the right track.

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

5. Matthew Stafford, QB

If it’s anyone who is on the verge of the Pro Bowl, it’s Stafford, who’s big numbers and elite play seem to make him a perfect candidate for the game. This season, if not for a finger injury, Stafford might have made the game on his own. It’s easy to see him being on the list for the next few seasons.

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