5 Late-Round Strong Safety Prospects That Fit the Lions' Defensive Scheme
The Lions have plenty of talent in their safety group heading into 2020.
With Tracy Walker, Duron Harmon, Will Harris and Jayron Kearse, the safety position is far from the biggest need for the squad. However, after the apparent departure of Tavon Wilson, there still could be question marks as to who will be the Lions' strong safety to open up the season.
Harris seems to be a natural fit to play more in the box after being used mostly as a deep safety his rookie year.
Meanwhile, Harmon has almost exclusively lined up as a free safety, and Walker is a movable chess piece in the Lions' defense.
Kearse, who has the body type to play closer to the line of scrimmage, actually was utilized more like a slot corner while with the Minnesota Vikings.
So, while the Lions have some flexibility in their back-end, they don't necessarily have a true "hang" defender -- which was the role Wilson played.
Fortunately, sub-package box safeties typically don't get drafted all that high in the draft.
In a league where coverage skills are paramount, the strong safety position has somewhat been devalued. Not to say that the Lions don't need a player with coverage skills -- because they do. But, the position just demands a different skill set than that of the other positions in the secondary.
Here are a few late-round prospects that could help fill the Lions' box-safety role in 2020:
Antoine Brooks, SS, Maryland
Weight: 220 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.64 seconds
Brooks could possibly make the switch to linebacker with his size and speed profile.
In saying this, he does his best work attacking the ball in front of him.
It wouldn't be wise to ask him to cover deep, as that's not his game and that's not really what the Lions need with their box safety.
Brooks has plenty of experience covering in the slot and playing close to the line of scrimmage, though.
He has no problem taking on tight ends or even some offensive linemen in the run game.
Tanner Muse, SS, Clemson
Weight: 227 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.41 seconds
Muse caught a lot of people by surprise at the combine.
Like the previously mentioned Brooks, Muse is basically a linebacker given his size. But unlike Brooks, Muse is a great linear athlete.
Despite an impressive 40-yard dash, he doesn't have the best change-of-direction skills.
He is super physical, and takes on blocks with ease.
Playing the run, Muse plays like a linebacker.
And in the passing game, he has even shown some decent instincts -- which resulted in four interceptions last season.
Muse is truly a unique player.
Kamren Curl, S, Arkansas
Weight: 206 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.60 seconds
Oddly enough, Curl is a junior who declared early, but isn't likely to sniff the first few rounds of the NFL Draft.
The former cornerback is pretty athletic, and has some natural coverage ability yet seemingly poor instincts.
His best trait is his length, though.
Long arms and decent fluidity will allow him to cover NFL tight ends.
Playing predominantly in either the box or in the slot, Curl isn't overly aggressive in the run game, but is a fairly secure tackler.
Overall, he does a bunch of things well, but nothing great.
Jared Mayden, S, Alabama
Weight: 201 pounds
Mayden, who led Alabama last year in interceptions, is the forgotten man from their vaunted secondary.
Being that 2019 was his first year as a starter, he lined up almost equally in the slot, deep and in the box -- a big plus in Patricia's defense.
Again, being a late-round prospect, there is no need to hype up what a player isn't. But, given Mayden's versatility and ability to play against the run, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to take a flyer on an athletic safety that has a cornerback background.
Reggie Floyd, S, Virginia Tech
Weight: 215 pounds
Floyd wasn't invited to the combine, and may not even be drafted.
With his size, he started for three consecutive years at the "rover" position, and finished each year in the top three for tackles at Virginia Tech.
Almost like a run-and-chase linebacker, Floyd is aggressive in his pursuit of the ball carrier.
Like most box safeties, Floyd shows some warts in coverage, but could be adequate with what the Lions would ask of him in their scheme.
Of all the aforementioned defensive backs, Floyd might need the most work in terms of pass coverage.