Now, things to question on the Detroit Lions defense.
Will second-year cornerback Jeff Okudah be able to rebound after a horrible rookie season? I assume he will with the tutorship of Aaron Glenn, who will run the teams’ defense. Throughout his 15-year NFL career, Glenn saw plenty of success as a three-time Pro Bowler as a corner twice with the Jets and later with the Houston Texans.
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The Detroit Lions hope third-year corner Amani Oruwariye continues to progress which will allow Glenn to ease in rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu, who may eventually overtake Oruwariye as the starting outside corner opposite Okudah.
The future is bright in the secondary, but there are still some immediate concerns heading into the new season.
The organization will also hope to see safety Tracy Walker excel in a center field role rather than being asked to play in man coverage. He proved to be overmatched most of the time last season. Walker playing that type of role as a single high safety will really benefit his skill-set.
Walker earned an overall rating of 51 last season from Pro Football Focus (PFF) but defended the run nicely at 68 and had a pass-rush mark of 76.8. But, again, Walker struggled in coverage, primarily in man coverage to the tune of a 40.8 mark.
I have serious concerns with his running mate Will Harris. I’m not convinced that Harris is a starting NFL strong safety, but he will be asked to be just that this upcoming season unless someone like C.J. Moore can find a way to unseat him.
Harris provided the Detroit Lions with an overall rating of 50.5, courtesy of PFF last season. That rating was extremely consistent across the board in coverage and defending the run.
Over the past three years, the Detroit Lions saw spotty play out of their linebackers. Will rookie Derrick Barnes be able to solidify the middle of the defense in 2021? Maybe a re-born and altered body type of Jahlani Tavai will finally excel in Glenn’s defense.
Tavai was drafted by Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia to be a ‘thumper’ inside and weighted around 270-pounds. However, in Glenn’s more athletic defense, he’s returned to Lions camp nearly 40 pounds lighter.
The Lions have also added former New Orleans Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone who will likely see the bulk of the third-down opportunities alongside Jamie Collins early in ’21.