Detroit Lions: 3 defenders poised to bounce back in 2021

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Detroit Lions, Tracy Walker
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Tracy Walker is expected to bounce back for the Detroit Lions in 2021.

Ironically, Tracy Walker is one of my favorite players on the Detroit Lions defense.  I feel that there is an abundance of talent in the fourth-year safety that’s yet to be unlocked.

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Walker burst onto the scene as a rookie, with the Lions earning a spectacular overall rating of 89.8 courtesy of PFF, albeit in a limited role.  Walker appeared in just 268 defensive snaps after the Detroit Lions selected him with the 82nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The fourth-year safety’s production has dramatically decreased over the past two seasons since becoming a starter in Patricia’s defense.  Last season Walker earned a career-worst 51.0 mark, but it became apparent Patricia was not using Walker in a format that best suits his overall skill-set.

Patricia asked Walker to be the strong safety to insert veteran Duron Harmon as the free safety.  Walker was often overmatched in man coverage as he tried to lock up tight ends and running backs leaking out of the backfield.

Walker is a free safety by trade and is best utilized playing centerfield, similar to how Harmon was used last year.  With Harmon gone, Walker is set to slide back into his more familiar role, and I expect him to excel in Glenn’s defense.

Similar to Okudah, things can’t get much worse for Walker.  He allowed a whopping seven touchdowns last season and gave up a catch rate of 73.5%, giving up 36 catches on 49 targets for an average of 13 yards per reception.

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I’m thoroughly excited to see how Walker performs in 2021, and I’m also interested to see who wins the right to start the season as his partner in the secondary.  There should be a hefty battle between Will Harris and Dean Marlowe to become the teams’ starting strong safety.