Does Quinton Dunbar Have Anything Left to Offer Lions' Defense?

Corbin Smith of Seahawk Maven answers five questions regarding new Detroit Lions cornerback Quinton Dunbar
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Corbin Smith of Seahawk Maven answers five questions regarding new Detroit Lions cornerback Quinton Dunbar. 

1.) What are the Lions getting in cornerback Quinton Dunbar? 

Corbin Smith: When healthy, Dunbar is a long and physical, athletic cornerback with plus-ball skills, stemming from his background as a receiver at Florida. 

Despite playing in only 18 combined games in 2018 and 2019, he amassed six interceptions and 17 passes defensed during that span. He's also a willing run defender, and prior to the 2020 season, he had emerged as one of the most reliable tacklers at the position. 

2.) How would you evaluate his one season with the Seattle Seahawks? 

Smith: Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the decision to trade a fifth-round pick to Washington for him will be viewed as nothing but a disaster. 

The organization believed he would provide an immediate upgrade over incumbent starter Tre Flowers. But, his brief tenure in Seattle got off to a horrific start when he was arrested for alleged involvement in an armed robbery last May. 

By the time he arrived for training camp and had been removed from the commissioner's exempt list, he wasn't in football shape, and needed time to get up to speed. 

He started the first two games of the season, and intercepted Cam Newton in Week 2. So, it looked like things were turning the corner. 

Then, he missed a pair of games with a knee issue. And, when he returned, he struggled mightily, playing at well below 100 percent. 

Four weeks later, he was on injured reserve, and didn't play in another game the rest of the season. 

3.) What are his biggest strengths and weaknesses? 

Smith: If he isn't sidelined -- which unfortunately hasn't been very often -- Dunbar has the tools to be a top-10 cornerback in the league. 

He played at that level in 2019, when he picked off four passes in just 11 games and earned the second-highest overall grade from Pro Football Focus for cornerbacks. 

He has a nose for the football, and his past experience as a receiver shows up while reading routes and making plays at the catch point. 

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He has no issues sticking his head into the fight against the run, either, although he wasn't nearly as effective in that regard while playing hurt last year. 

In terms of weaknesses, his fragility is a huge red flag. He's ended each of the past three seasons on injured reserve, and has not played in more than 11 games since 2017. 

He's also proven to be vulnerable at times against double moves, due to his aggressive nature in jumping routes. 

4.) How should the Lions' defense best use his skill set? 

Smith: The nice thing about Dunbar is that he has the athletic traits and football skills to perform well in any system. 

He can smother receivers at the line in press coverage, he can man up on bigger receivers, as well as shiftier ones, and he has the awareness and fluidity to excel off the ball. 

The Lions shouldn't have any scheme-related issues with him, as long as they don't try to play him in the slot too much. He's far more effective playing on the outside when he can use the sideline to his advantage. 

5.) How much should supporters of the Lions be concerned about his history of injuries? 

Smith: Ultimately, any team taking a risk on Dunbar has to be prepared for him to miss time at some point. 

He just has not been able to stay healthy for the majority of his NFL career, particularly when it comes to knee and hamstring issues. 

From my understanding, he's fully recovered now from his knee surgery, which should mean he's 100 percent when camp opens. 

The Lions just have to keep their fingers crossed that he can avoid getting nipped by the injury bug once again, and the past suggests that will be difficult to avoid.

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