The Detroit Lions’ defense is very needy in several positions ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, but the good news is the team should be able to fill out those needs
One of the spots that has the most need for another young impact player is the spot of cornerback. The Lions lost some veteran players via cuts in free agency, and while they have made a few additions, the team figures to benefit from another infusion of young talent this season in the draft.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Lions!
Fortunately for Detroit, the chance will exist to solve the problem in a major way. But what players make the most sense for the team? Here’s a look at the names to remember at cornerback this year.
Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
Playing for Florida State, Samuel Jr. has been decently productive, with 97 tackles, 4 interceptions and 29 passes defended in just three seasons of work. In 2020, he opted out of the season due to COVID-19. Samuel Jr. isn’t the tallest prospect with 5-10 size, but he’s shown an ability to be in the right place at the right time to be a ballhawk and shut down opposing wideouts. Early in the draft process, many have seen him as a potential second-round selection and the Lions would be wise to consider him here depending on what they do with their first pick.
Greg Newsome, Northwestern
Another potential early-round selection, Newsome is light on his feet and is a versatile player who could come in and give the Lions good snaps. Newsome might slip down the board a bit with teams unsure of what he is, but the odds of him lasting until Detroit’s second pick are very slim. Newsome put up 71 tackles, 1 interception and 20 passes defensed in his three years of work in the Big Ten. Those might not look like elite numbers, but Newsome is a very sticky corner who can make life tough on opposing receivers. The Lions could use more of that in their defensive backfield.
Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
One of the best cornerbacks in the class, Farley has been slowed down by injury and a back surgery which is leaving his stock very much in doubt. All of a sudden, he might not be the first cornerback selected in the draft which could be a big benefit to the Lions. If Detroit trades back or if Farley should slip to round two as a result of these questions, it could be a big break for the Lions to snap him up. With good speed and size, Farley is the right archetype at cornerback and could be a major steal for the Lions if they could get him far enough down the board.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
If the last name sounds familiar, that’s because Ifeatu’s brother Obi Melifonwu played in the NFL recently as well. The older Melifonwu didn’t have success, but that doesn’t mean the younger one can’t be great. Melifonwu has solid size at 6-3 and is the type of player who can be a better cornerback than some of the options that may go higher than him in the NFL Draft. Melifowu might end up being one of the better cornerbacks that comes out of this draft process, and the Lions would be smart to watch him given their major needs at cornerback.
Eric Stokes, Georgia
The Lions got an up-close look at Georgia’s players during the team’s pro day, so they will know what Stokes brings to the mix and have a grade on him. A speedy player who can be sticky in coverage, Stokes also collected 4 interceptions last season making him the kind of playmaker the Lions could crave for a secondary that hasn’t taken away the ball nearly enough in the last few seasons. Stokes won’t go as a first-round pick, but he could come off the board in the third with one of Detroit’s two selections there.
READ NEXT: Analyst Predicts Lions ‘Wheeling and Dealing’ During Draft