The Detroit Lions should consider bringing home former Michigan State Spartans star, Darqueze Dennard.
Dennard spent four years with the Spartans from 2010 to 2013. He compiled 165 tackles, ten tackles for a loss, one sack, three forced fumbles, and ten interceptions as a three-year starter.
Dennard is just 28-years old but remains unsigned. He’s spent his first six professional seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Dennard’s best year came in 2017 when he recorded two interceptions along with defended six passes. During that 2017 season, Dennard also recorded a career-high 85 tackles and two sacks.
What’s most intriguing about Dennard is his ability to play as an outside corner and also work with success out of the slot covering the smaller, shifty NFL slot receivers. At 5-foot-11 205-pounds, Dennard won’t allow himself to be bullied off of the line of scrimmage. He has enough punching power to jam outside pass-catchers and tie up slot receivers at the line of scrimmage, forcing their route to bend, in turn, disrupting the timing on the play.
The Lions currently deploy Justin Coleman as the teams’ top slot corner, Coleman excelled at punching lose the football last season after a catch had been made. Coleman allowed eight touchdown receptions against last season; way too many. Coleman was targeted a whopping 110 times last season, which was the second-most across the league.
Detroit needs to ensure they have a backup plan for Coleman in case he fails to live up to the hype in coverage again in 2020. Dennard is a better plan B than Agnew and perhaps even Roberts, who prefers to work outside.
Last season playing in nine games, Dennard worked exclusively out of the slot. He earned himself a very respectable 76.0 coverage grade, the best over his career to date. His overall mark of 72.2 goes down as his third-best season in his young career.
In 2019, Dennard was able to hold his opponents to a stellar 54.5% completion rate when targeted. In comparison, Coleman earned a coverage grade of 59.1 last season and allowed a catch rate of 63.6%.
Dennard will likely command a deal that averages about $5-million per season, and that is very affordable for the Detroit Lions.