Cornerback Called Lions’ Top Red Flag Ahead of 2021 Draft

Cornerback Called Lions’ Top Red Flag Ahead of 2021 Draft
Jeff Okudah


Jeff Okudah chases down Kyler Murray.

The Detroit Lions are heading into the 2021 NFL Draft with more needs to fill out, and it’s a tough debate whether to consider the offense or defense the team’s biggest trouble spot at this point in time.

Some will point to the offense given the need for playmaking wideouts, while others still see the defensive spots of linebacker and the secondary. That second approach was the thought for Bleacher Report recently, and the site as well as writer Kristopher Knox sees the defense as the major trouble spot heading into the draft.

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Recently, the site looked at red flags for every team heading into the draft, and when it came to the Lions, the cornerback spot was revealed by Knox to be the most concerning. Why? A lack of depth as well as potent playmakers at the spot, which should theoretically force the Lions to take a player there.

He wrote:

“The Detroit Lions struggled mightily against the pass in 2020, and cornerback was an especially weak position. No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah was supposed to make an immediate impact, but he finished the season with an opposing passer rating of 118.0.

Detroit brought in Desmond Trufant to help replace traded Pro Bowler Darius Slay, but he also struggled. He appeared in only six games, allowed an opposing passer rating of 111.3 and departed this offseason. As a team, the Lions ranked 30th in passing yards allowed and 32nd in passing touchdowns allowed with 38.

Detroit’s biggest free-agency move at the position was signing Corn Elder, who has just one career start on his resume.

The pass rush was also an issue for Detroit, which finished with just 24 sacks. However, the Lions at least took significant steps to address that problem, trading for Michael Brockers, signing Charles Harris and re-signing Romeo Okwara.”

Detroit did manage to sign Quinton Dunbar as well, but with him and Elder, it’s not as if the Lions are that much deeper. The team could still select a cornerback very high, perhaps as high as with a first-round pick if there is a trade back. Should the Lions stay put or look to another position with their first selection, pick 41 could be a sweet spot for another cornerback.

Regardless, it is a spot the Lions could upgrade quick during the 2021 draft.

Lions Defense Disastrous in 2020

It’s true that the Lions defense has been miserable, and the Lions have targeted it from day one as a potential major upgrade. Dan Campbell said early in his press conference he wasn’t thrilled about the talent level on that side of the football. This offseason, the Lions have added more than a few pieces up front and in the backfield, but given what they have to do, it shouldn’t change their approach.

This past season, Detroit’s defense was plagued with inconsistency in every single way on the field, no matter who the opponent ended up being. Their pass rush struggled constantly, and the team has been up and down on the back end while battling injuries. Detroit also hasn’t forced enough turnovers and is generally unable to get off the field against good teams and good offenses. As a whole, the Lions placed 32nd in the NFL in total defense during 2020, which was dead last. They gave up too many points (519) and constantly looked underprepared. Give Campbell credit for realizing the situation he was walking into and calling it out on day one.

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Lions Still Have Major Defensive Needs This Offseason

The Lions have needs not only in the trenches and at linebacker but on the back end of their defense as well. Detroit could use a safety but could also look to add a cornerback to the mix as well to help out their young players in finding a footing. The team could also look to make more additions at linebacker and along the defensive line, although bringing back Romeo Okwara was a great start for Detroit as it relates to that up front. Getting Michael Brockers in the mix will help the Lions to fortify their line in a big way, too.

With young players like Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye at cornerback, the depth is a concern after some cuts recently, but adding a player there could help as well. Even after adding Corn Elder, Quinton Dunbar and Dean Marlowe, getting another free agent or two and supplementing through the draft should be the goal for the Lions at this point in time.

It’s clear the cornerback spot will remain a red flag like it always has in Detroit history up to another draft.

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