How Rookie CB Amani Oruwariye Fared in First Defensive Snaps of Season

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Logan Lamorandier

The Lions selected cornerback Amani Oruwariye in the fifth round -- No. 146 overall -- of the 2019 NFL Draft. 

Largely considered to be a Day 2 pick, Oruwariye fell to the Lions on Day 3. 

Despite being selected later than expected, many still had hoped the 6-foot-2 corner would be able to contribute sooner than later. 

That ended up not being the case.

In Week 11 against the Cowboys, Oruwariye saw the first defensive snaps of his career. 

He was also active in Weeks 4 and 10, but was used solely on special teams. 

It's important to note, though, that a midseason knee injury limited his availability as well.

Now healthy, Oruwariye played in nine defensive snaps this past week. 

It might be no coincidence, though, that he didn't enter the game until after safety Tracy Walker was ruled out for the rest of the contest with a knee injury.

"Amani was close a couple of weeks ago to having a little bit more of a role for us on the team," Lions head man Matt Patricia said. "The initial role was on special teams, filling in for some of the positions that we needed to. He has a good skill set. We are still in the initial stages of him playing in the NFL right now, and he still has a lot to learn. I thought he played hard, played aggressive. I thought he tried to do what we asked him to do in both phases: on special teams and on defense. So, hopefully, we will try and build from there."

Before Sunday, the fourth corner to see game action had been Mike Ford. 

Yet, Oruwariye logged the fourth-most snaps at corner vs. Dallas, behind Darius Slay, Rashaan Melvin and Justin Coleman.

Not that nine snaps is a huge sample size, but it is still a step in the right direction and a small vote of confidence in the developing Penn State product.

Let's break down Oruwariye's play on the field.

First off, he lined up on two occasions in the slot and the rest of the time as a wide corner.

Looking at the stat line, the rookie corner only logged one tackle after cleaning up for Coleman. 

Coleman had slipped and fallen while covering Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb. 

Not necessarily a bad thing for a corner to not show up much on the stat sheet when the defense he plays for allows 444 passing yards, as the Lions did Sunday vs. Dak Prescott.

Oruwariye was targeted just once, but on that throw, Mike Daniels disrupted Prescott. 

In all likelihood, Oruwariye was in a good position to make a pass breakup on the crossing route -- or at the very least, to bring Dallas receiver Michael Gallup down before the first-down line.

On a few other plays, the ball didn't go his way. 

He was, though, in tight man-to-man coverage on a couple of go-routes and posts. 

His solid coverage earned him the highest Pro Football Focus coverage grade of all the Lions defensive backs. 

Given how poorly the secondary played overall, the highest grade isn't exactly saying much.

It's at the point of the season where it's time to see what the Lions have for the future. 

With Melvin on a one-year deal, Oruwariye is a potential replacement for him next season. 

The Lions should use the remainder of their games in 2019 to develop their young players, starting with Oruwariye.

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