Detroit Has A Good Group Of Cornerbacks But Could Lose Some To Free Agency.
Detroit’s cornerbacks have been pretty decent this season for the most part. Darius Slay has played like one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Guys like Nevin Lawson, D.J. Hayden and Quandre Diggs give the Lions depth at the position.
The bad news is that both Lawson and Hayden have contracts that are expiring after this season so there is no guarantee that either player will be back. Rookie Teez Tabor might be able to play a larger role next season so that will help. NFL teams can never have enough cornerbacks so it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Lions to add another one in the 2018 draft.
2018 Draft Class Options- Cornerbacks
This years crop of cornerbacks are still sorting themselves out. Some have emerged from the pack but nothing is set in stone at this point.
These are three cornerbacks that Detroit could take a look at:
Denzel Ward- Ohio State
There are many teams around college football who refer to themselves as “DBU” but no team has a better track record of sending cornerbacks to the NFL over the last couple years than Ohio State. Cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley we selected in the first round last year and Denzel Ward may be next. Ward has one interception and 13 pass breakups this season.
At 5’10” and 191 lbs., Ward isn’t as big as the two guys Ohio State sent to the NFL last year. Ward is at his best in the slot where he is lined up with smaller guys who usually win with their quickness. Even the quickest of receivers struggle to gain seperation against Ward who has top notch speed and quickness.
Although he has a small frame, Ward does have long arms. This helps him make plays on the football.
The main issue with Ward is that he struggles against receivers with size. The big receivers don’t seperate from Ward any better than the smaller ones do but they are able to bascally out-muscle Ward to catch the football at times.
Josh Jackson- Iowa
Jackson has been one of the best cornerbacks in college football this season. In his first year as a starter he has racked up seven interceptions and 18 pass breakups. His best game came against Ohio State where he picked off quarterback J.T. Barrett three times including one gorgous one-handed grab.
The Iowa corner has a nice frame at 6’1” and 192 lbs. and has long arms to go with it. This allows him to attack the football to come away with interceptions or at least deflect it away. He also tracks the ball well in the air.
Another thing that Jackson does well is being physical against the run and stopping wide receiver screens. He fights through blocks to get to the ball-carrier and generally does a good job of making the tackle.
The biggest knock on Jackson is that he isn’t an elite athlete. This makes it hard for him to stick with some receivers which means that he allows too much seperation on occasion.
Isaiah Oliver- Colorodo
Like Denzel Ward, Oliver played behind two future NFL cornerbacks last season in Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon. Also like Ward, Oliver has taken advantage of more playing time and will be one of the best cornerbacks in the 2018 draft. Oliver has two interceptions and 13 pass breakups this season.
At 6’1” and 190 lbs. Oliver has the frame that teams like in their cornerbacks. He’s also a good athlete, Oliver actually is also a member of the track team. Colorodo uses Oliver in both man and zone coverage and he is comfortable doing doing either.
Oliver doesn’t allow a lot of seperation and has outstanding recovery speed when he does get beat. This makes it tough for opposing receivers to make plays.
One area where Oliver needs to improve is turning his head to find the football. Most of the time he does a nice job of locating the ball but when he doesn’t he draws flags.