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Posts tagged with "Defensive Back"

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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We are less than two months away from the 2017 free agency beginning, so it’s time to analyze the nine unrestricted free agents for the Colts. Next up is veteran defensive back Darius Butler.

NDIANAPOLIS – Not many defensive backs have a career revival at the age of 30.

But Darius Butler believes he had one in 2016.

During last year’s Training Camp, injuries forced the Colts to give Butler an extended run at safety.

Butler worked back at safety for several practices, bringing some flexibility to his normal nickel cornerback responsibilities.

It’s one thing to fill in at safety at Anderson University. It’s a whole different animal to do it against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

But there was Butler in early November starting at safety, and recording an interception, versus Rodgers.

The safety duties for Butler continued for the rest of 2016 and has made the veteran defensive back more attractive with free agency looming.

“For me, I feel like it was a beginning of a new career almost,” Butler said of his fifth season in Indianapolis introducing him to more of the safety position.

“I’m 30 now, but I feel like I have a lot of football left. My body feels good. Being back there is a different perspective. I like it.”

The Colts have always loved the comfort level Butler provides their defense and are intrigued by what they saw at safety.

“Darius is someone that helps that whole defense in terms of just being that conduit,” GM Ryan Grigson said earlier this season.

“He’s very smart, he knows how to get guys lined up, he helps with all the young players we have on the defense, getting them squared away out there. And then he’s around the ball.”

Like with fellow free agent Mike Adams at safety, the Colts have similar questions with Butler possibly returning.

If the Colts do view Butler as a starting safety, that means the young duo ofClayton Geathers and T.J. Green would be on hold for at least another season.

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