Detroit Lions Rookie CB Earning ‘Quandre the Giant’ Nickname


Detroit Lions rookie cornerback Quandre Diggs had a breakout performance against the Saints, but it was also the continuation of a stretch of solid play.

Cornerback is regarded as one of the most difficult positions for young players in the NFL. Detroit Lions fans have seen the progression it often takes by watching Darius Slay over the past three seasons.

Slay has steadily progressed after battling inconsistencies as a rookie drafted in the second round. Now, Slay is rated by Pro Football Focus as the second-best corner in the league so far this season.

Slay’s story isn’t particularly surprising given the steps he made as a second year pro last season. What has been surprising has been the consistently solid play of rookie cornerback Quandre Diggs. A sixth-round draft pick of the Lions last spring, Diggs was seen as a good late-round value pick despite questions over his size and speed.

What wasn’t questioned was his heart and desire to compete – something that has served him well in his jump from college to the pros.

Initially deep on the depth chart, Diggs survived a training camp battle to secure a spot on the final 53-man roster heading in to the season, although saw the field sparingly through the first five weeks of the season. The results were rather pedestrian but injuries to Rashean Mathis and Josh Wilson created an opportunity for more playing time.

Diggs has taken that opportunity and run with it, culminating so far in his breakout performance on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints. Jon Gruden was effusive in his praise of Diggs during the ESPN broadcast and while Gruden went over the top at times, praise was definitely warranted.

Pro Football Focus graded Diggs out at a +2.6 overall – the highest individual game grade for the Lions defense against the Saints. It was a big performance on a big stage but it was also a continuation of consistently solid play by Diggs over the last several weeks. Just take a look at Diggs’ week-by-week grades from PFF:

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This consistency over time now has Diggs ranked as the 20th-best cornerback overall for the 2015 season by Pro Football Focus. That ranking comes despite a large playing time disparity between him and many of the other corners ranked around him.

The Lions’ cornerback situation has been one of the most criticized position groups over the years but that may be coming to an end. The Lions have a legitimate top-end corner in Darius Slay and with “Quandre the Giant” coming up big over the last several weeks, the future looks bright.