With the 2014 NFL Draft approaching, some names of possible cornerbacks to help the Detroit Lions’ porous secondary have been tossed around for weeks. Guys like Michigan State’s Darquez Dennard and Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert have been highly considered by the Lions, with Dennard getting drafted by the Lions in USA Today’s most recent mock draft. We all know how much mock drafts actually mean, but this just indicates a continued assumption that the Lions are looking for a top CB prospect.
However, the Lions look to be set on finding a stable of veterans at the cornerback position, which suggests they will go in a different route in the draft.
On Tuesday, the Lions met with former New York Giants CB Aaron Ross, who was once a first-round draft pick. Ross signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars for three years in 2012, but was cut after just one season into the deal. He’s dealt with some injury issues, but did play on both of the Giants’ Super Bowl teams. Since 2007, he’s made 52 starts, and racked up 11 interceptions and 30 pass deflections.
Ross’ potential is a little unknown at this point, but we know at one time he had some chops. If the Lions do sign Ross, that would be the second signing of a veteran CB in about a week. That speaks volumes to what the Lions hope to do, or at least hope NOT to do in the draft.
Former Indianapolis Colts’ corner Cassius Vaughn signed a one-year contract with the Lions this week, joining James Ihedigbo as recent significant secondary additions for the Lions in the offseason. Vaughn, still just 25, has 124 tackles and five interceptions in his career. He also has experience returning kicks. Last season with the Colts, he had 30 tackles, three interceptions and a forced fumble in 16 games. Those are decent numbers for an unheralded corner snagged fairly easily through free agency.
Last year the Lions drafted Darius Slay early in the second round, and didn’t see a whole lot of production. They still think he has potential to be a solid cornerback. With the additions made through free agency and the recent tryout for Ross, it seems the Lions really want to find their secondary through free agency, rather than the draft. Perhaps they’re looking to go for a linebacker like Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, or they’re keeping their options open for another wide receiver.
As much as they clearly need to find talented corners, the savviness of guys who have been around at least a few years is often more valuable at the CB position than pure physical speed and talent. Either way, these recent moves have me thinking the Lions will be passing on top CB prospects in the upcoming draft.