In 2019, Detroit found a diamond in the rough in the fifth round when it selected cornerback Amani Oruwariye. He was a mid-round pick, who looked more like a second-round find.
I evaluated every play he was featured in last season (64 total plays), and there are things I absolutely loved about him.
Oruwariye played with some attitude, swag and emotion. He played with visible confidence. He flashed some play-making skills.
He showed there is a lot to work with, and he also showed he needs to work on some things if he hopes to ever become more than the team's No. 3 nickel corner.
Again, I want to stress that this guy has upside and he has what it takes.
The way I see it, there are four keys to success for Oruwariye in 2021.
1.) Oruwariye needs to become more consistent.
There were "wow" moments, and there were some not so wow moments on film. Every rookie goes through it. It is like going through that awkward freshman year in high school or college.
He needs to see it a few times. He needs reps at the NFL level, and over time, he should become better with experience.
The thing I like about Oruwariye is that he shows football is important to him. So, there is an openness and an eagerness to get better - - so odds are that he will with experience.
2.) Oruwariye needs to improve in man coverage.
If he hopes to ever have a chance at becoming a No. 2 corner, there's no doubt he needs to improve in man.
He exceled at zone, and struggled in man coverage in 2020. There were times he looked like he guessed wrong and times where he even got spun around.
He also got beat by double moves, both to the inside and to the outside.
If the new Lions defense features a lot of zone coverage, he will shine. But, if the emphasis is on man coverage, he will need to work to improve.
Oruwariye also showed inconsistent ball skills. But, to his credit, he showed he could handle and carry the deeper straight-line routes for the most part.
I think it is in him to develop his man coverage skills, but it is just like learning to be a switch-hitter in baseball -- it is going to take work and time.
Teams really picked him apart during the last month of the 2020 season.
3.) Oruwariye needs teaching and coaching from Detroit's new defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant.
Oruwariye has the right attitude to learn, and he needs to be taught the finer points of playing cornerback, to go along with the experience.
He needs to be taught even better technique, so he can avoid a costly pass interference call, like he had against Minnesota in Week 17.
4.) Oruwariye needs to find a good mentor in the locker room.
He needs to find a veteran who has been there, done that and has bought the proverbial t-shirt. He needs a mentor who understands some of the finer points of the position and can teach him those points.
A lot of times, the difference between a younger player and a veteran are the little things -- hand placement, what to key in on when the quarterback is dropping back, what to look for from a receiver and how to react to certain situations.
The Lions have a few guys on the roster who are longer in the tooth -- guys who have been around a little longer than he has -- guys like Corn Elder and Quinton Dunbar.
If these four things happen, I do not see any reason why Oruwariye can not continue to develop and continue to get better. And, if such occurs, it would bode very well for the Lions' defense in 2021.
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