There is little doubt that Detroit needs to improve on defense, especially in the secondary -- which is something new Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn should be able to improve on.
Glenn was a top-flight corner in his own right back in the day for the N.Y. Jets.
With his background, one would think the immediate focus would be improving the secondary.
Pro Football Focus certainly thinks so. It ranked the Lions 32nd among the league's secondaries. PFF's Anthony Treash noted that Detroit didn't just have the worst performance of the season, but one of the worst seen in the PFF era, dating back to 2006.
And I tend to agree. Detroit’s defense last season looked and felt extremely reactive and hesitant, which are two of the main ingredients for disastrous defensive play.
This turns our attention to the tale of three free-agent corners who are sure to be considered, if the Lions hope to restore the roar in 2021.
Darryl Roberts, Lions
Roberts showed flashes in 2020, but the main theme of his play when I turned on the film was inconsistency.
He tended to be lined up a lot in off-ball coverages and zone when he would come up and sometimes look aggressive. But, at other times, it did not seem like he wanted it as badly, and he kind of shied away.
Being rigid in the hips did not help his cause, either, especially on quick out-routes.
Roberts was better on straight-line routes, or when the field boundaries became his best friend. He was, by far, too reactive and hesitant at times, as well.
Roberts did not show me enough to warrant a return trip to Detroit, plus he was part of the last regime.
My prediction is he is as good as gone.
Roberts is also the worst of the three free-agent corners I'm bringing up for this piece.
Michael Davis, Los Angeles Chargers
If I had to pick one corner who will sign with Detroit, it would be Davis.
For starters, during one of the Chargers' telecasts in 2020, the commentator said Davis was a favorite of Anthony Lynn’s.
Of course, Lynn is Detroit’s new offensive coordinator, and he has the ear of the Lions’ front-office brass.
The stars just seem to be aligning on this one.
On the field, Davis looked the part, as well, last season. He showed an aggressive nature, good hip flexibility, he was consistently competitive and he showed some real play-making ability.
Davis put up a whopping 20 passes defensed in 2020, and every season he's suited up, the number of passes he has broken up has increased.
Davis shows a knack for getting his hand in the way of passes, and he provides some pretty physical run and tackling support when needed, too.
P.J. Williams, New Orleans Saints
The third free-agent corner target for the Lions is the extremely physical Williams.
Williams also has strong ties to Detroit now. Remember, that is where new Lions head coach Dan Campbell comes from, and we all know Campbell craves physical play, based on the comments he made during his opening presser.
However, when I took a look at the film of Williams from the past three seasons, I felt that Williams’ play had dropped off some in 2020.
It did not seem like he played as aggressively or was in as tight of position on routes as in years past.
He, in fact, only had two passes defended in 2020 -- his lowest number since his 2016 rookie season.
Whether Lynn or Campbell get their "guy" remains to be seen.
Odds are it will be one of their two former players that the Lions sign since the league tendency is to go with guys that coaches/front offices are "most familiar with.”
No matter if it were to be Davis or Williams that Detroit adds, such an acquisition would certainly upgrade the team's secondary going into 2021.
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