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Is Auburn Tigers Roger McCreary Lions Cornerback of the Future?

Scouting report on Auburn Tigers cornerback Roger McCreary.

It is difficult to compete in the NFL without good pass coverage, which might leave the Lions looking at Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary in the upcoming draft. 

With a secondary that gave up 4,361 yards passing in 2021 (10th most), it is easy to see how Detroit finished the season with a 3-13-1 record.

With all of the injuries suffered by the Lions’ CBs this past season, the question is: Will they be able to bounce back and return to form in 2022? 

That will be an unanswerable question until training camp and the preseason. Outside of that, Detroit must hope for the best, but plan for the worst. 

Planning for the worst includes selecting a cornerback within the first couple of rounds of the upcoming draft, which is where McCreary comes back into this conversation. 

McCreary is a competitive defender who fits this tough and try-hard Detroit philosophy. 

He has also been a consistent performer over the past three seasons at Auburn. This past season, McCreary produced 49 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and 14 passes defensed. 

While McCreary is not an elite lockdown pass defender, he will be a good No. 2 type of corner at the next level. He figures to go in the latter part of the first round or early part of the second round.

This could be perfect for Detroit, sitting there with the Rams’ late first-round selection and its own early second-round pick.

Back when Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn was an all-pro CB himself with the Jets, he played for Bill Belichick for a stretch. At the time, Belichick was the Jets’ defensive coordinator, and he was a stickler about cornerback play and technique. Glenn learned from that experience. 

This is another reason for why McCreary, who plays the position with excellent technique to compensate for what he lacks, will be on Detroit’s radar. 

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#23 Roger McCreary 6'0, 190 pounds

40-yard dash time: 4.5

2021 game film reviewed: Penn State, LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama

NFL comparable: Martin Mayhew

Grade: Late first round/early second round

Scouting Report

Imposing, complete cover corner with good straight-line speed, decent hip flexibility and excellent technique. Active. Able to line up in off-man coverage and zone, and excels at tight-man. Keeps shoulders square to receivers at the snap, and uses hands well to make releases more challenging. Battles and is not afraid to mix it up. Does an excellent job mirroring receivers every move on their releases. Plays the receivers and not the ball, to a fault (which makes him susceptible to pass interference). Uses sidelines well as a boundary, and does a nice job of maintaining outside route leverage on vertical routes. 

Offenses showed they can get him on quick slants, but he competes hard and is almost right there. This is where his hip rigidity shows up, as well as on routes that feature quick breaks and open-field support situations. Does show the ability to compensate for lacking short-area burst and rigidity by playing angles exceptionally well. 

Did not get toasted in the four games I watched. Consistently gives tight passing windows. Nothing to write home about against the run, in support. Very capable, but he is extremely reluctant, even on longer running plays.

Having Glenn coach McCreary would be intriguing. With good coaching and despite all the injuries, Glenn was able to take Detroit's 31st-ranked secondary in 2020 and make it into the 24th-ranked unit in 2021.

Glenn specifically knows the position of CB better than most coordinators, given his background. It showed up in the improved play of Amani Oruwariye, and it showed up in the solid play of undrafted corners Jerry Jacobs, Bobby Price and A.J. Parker.

Glenn could really polish McCreary’s techniques and turn him into a draft-day steal.