Friday, May 27, 2016

Detroit Lions - May 27th 2016 - Defensive Backs

The post draft defensive backs situation.

Over the past week the Lions have made a couple of roster moves, two cuts, both due to injury. RFA Tight End Timothy Wright was cut due to injury today and a couple of days ago they cut UDFA Offensive Tackle Darius Johnson. Neither cut changes the salary cap situation for the Lions who currently have $14,965,950 in cap space available using the league's top 51 contract rule that is in effect until the first week of the regular season. Both players were guys who I thought had a very good chance of making the final roster and I suppose either could be re-signed at a later time once they can pass a physical. This gives GM Quinn two open spots on the roster to bring in bodies that he otherwise could not have without making these cuts. This also alters my estimated depth chart. I now move both cuts to the cut column and move over TE Matthew Mulligan and RT Michael Ola onto the 53. More moves will be forthcoming, just giving an update on the moves made to date (since my last update).

Now as to the defensive backs, the Lions typically keep 10, some years 9, some years 11, but for the most part, 10. It's usually pretty much 5 corners and 5 safeties as well, but it could go 6 and 4 or 4 and 6 if the players warrant such a move. At this point in time we will assume the total will remain 10 and the ratio will remain at 5 each.

Looking at Safety, the Lions have two Locks. Pro Bowler Glover Quin and their 2016 4th round draft pick Miles Killebrew. They also have two newly signed (this year) free agents in Rafael Bush and Tavon Wilson who I believe have the edge over the incumbents Don Carey and Isaiah Johnson. In my opinion, both Don and Isaiah are competing against Johnson Bademosi for the final spot. Bademosi can supposedly play either safety or corner and would be a mainstay on special teams. I do believe Don and Isaiah are mostly insurance against injury but I can not say that Bademosi or Wilson or Bush are locks. So, on paper at least, there are actually 5 playing for 3 spots. Presently.

Now at Cornerback there is one lock in Darius Slay. There are 3 more that are highly likely to make the final 53 and they are Alex Carter, Quandre Diggs, and Nevin Lawson. Diggs and Lawson because they showed last year they are capable of playing in the NFL and Carter because he's got talent and despite his year off due to injury I fully expect him to own a roster spot on his talent alone. If I'm accurate here that leaves one spot for undrafted rookie Ian Wells (who I think has a great chance here) to compete against free agents Darrin Wells and Crezdon Butler and fellow undrafted rookies in Charles Washington and Adairius Barnes. Now if Bademosi doesn't play any safety at all and is in this group instead of at safety the team will have to decide if they go 6 and 4 or possibly keep 11 instead of 10 DBs on the final roster. There is going to be a lot of competition for the one or possibly two spots that appear to be contested here, yet that doesn't mean that a player not expected to win a roster spot can't prove his worth and force the team to keep him on. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from trying their hardest to make the team, just pointing out how it appears at this point in time, and how it appears now may not be anything like it will appear by the end of August.

So with that qualifier, this is the summary of how I see it playing out at this point in time:
Locks: Safety Glover Quin, Safety Miles Killebrew, and Corner Darious Slay.
Likely to claim a roster spot: Safety Rafael Bush, Safety Tavon Wilson, Corner(Safety?) Johnson Bademosi, Corner Alex Carter, Corner Quandre Diggs, and Corner Nevin Lawson.
Probable final spot available: Corner Ian Wells versus Safety Don Carey, Safety Isaiah Johnson, Corner Darrin Wells, corner Crezdon Butler, corner Charles Washington and corner Adairius Barnes.

Injuries would (of course) open up more then one spot, and a player who performs so well they Lions can't make themselves cut him could open up an 11th spot at DB, so this "final spot" scenario is not carved in stone either. Then there is always the chance of regression, where a player from a prior season doesn't, for whatever reason, progress but rather regresses and is then surpassed by another player on the team. However things work out though, it's going to be a highly contested group of players fighting it out for the roles available, and that is a good thing.

Update: After completing this blog I realized that Bademosi was given a $2 million signing bonus in 2016 on a 2 year contract AND has $900,000 of his salary guaranteed so he truly belongs in the "Lock" category and not in the "Likely to claim a roster spot" category. There is almost no chance of his being cut. While there were signing bonuses for the two free agent safeties as well, they were at a quarter million and half million and therefor are not high enough to consider those players locks, though perhaps they should be slightly higher then just "Likely" to make the team.

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