Even with the additions of Quinton Dunbar, via free agency, and Ifeatu Melifonwu, via the NFL Draft, this offseason, the Detroit Lions' secondary is a work in progress, heading into the start of training camp at the end of the month.
Detroit also does return two promising young corners in Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye. However, remember that even with those two a year ago, the Lions allowed 4,558 passing yards -- third-most in the league -- and a league-worst 38 touchdowns through the air.
So, there's no doubt that Detroit general manager Brad Holmes needs to continue to revamp the team's defensive backs unit.
It begs the question: Could cornerback Steven Nelson be a potential fit in the Motor City?
The 28-year-old is presently a free agent, and is coming off of three straight seasons in which he's recorded at least one interception and eight passes defensed.
His career-best campaign came in 2018 with the Kansas City Chiefs, when he accounted for a career-high four interceptions and 15 passes defensed.
And, just a year ago, the former third-round pick of the Chiefs picked off two passes, and was responsible for nine passes defensed in 15 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Nelson was cut by the Steelers in late March. Yet, despite that being the case, he still definitely possesses some value, especially with him being under 30. And, he certainly would be able to aid a porous secondary group, such as the one that's existent in Motown.
Then, there's this: Since 2019, he's recorded a 78.1 Pro Football Focus grade (tied for 11th-best among all corners).
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Additionally, PFF ranked him No. 13 on its list of the top 32 corners, heading into the 2021 season.
As PFF's Ben Linsey explains,
"Nelson was another surprise release by a team strapped for salary cap space. His addition, along with the signing of Joe Haden, helped stabilize a turbulent cornerback position in Pittsburgh over these last two seasons. Nelson ranks among the top 10 cornerbacks in the league in both completion rate allowed (53.9%) and passer rating allowed (75.1) among 68 players at the position to see at least 100 targets since 2019. There’s a reason he has received plenty of interest since his release."
With that said, I don't see a reason why Holmes & Co. wouldn't be interested in attaining Nelson's services.
There are no clear-cut negatives when it comes to Nelson as a player -- heck, he's even good against the run, having recorded a 64.1 run defense grade in 2020 -- and he's still considered to be in the prime of his career.
If I were Holmes, Nelson would be a free-agent target of mine prior to training camp.
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