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I'm going out on a limb here.
Most people probably expected to see Bill Bentley's name up there, and understandably so. But I'm not sure the Lions (most notably defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham) are prepared to shake their rookie cornerback phobia just yet.
If that's true, then Bentley will have trouble seeing the field. As it is, the best he can likely hope for is the nickel-corner job in 2012.
Of course, Tahir Whitehead isn't likely to crack the starting rotation either, with incumbents DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant pretty steadily entrenched.
Of course, that's how Levy probably felt in 2009, looking up at Ernie Sims, Larry Foote and Julian Peterson on the depth chart. But when Sims, arguably the best of that bunch (which seems absurd in retrospect) went down with injury, Levy stepped up and filled the role admirably.
In fact, Levy performed so well, that the Lions decided Sims was expendable and traded him in a three-team deal that brought Tony Scheffler to Detroit.
So back to Whitehead.
Injuries are a thing that happens to linebackers. They happen, and they happen often. That means the fourth linebacker is particularly valuable. If the Lions like Whitehead as much as they appear to, he could beat out Doug Hogue to become that fourth linebacker.
Then he's just one injury away from putting his stamp on the team.
You could argue that the same is true of Bentley if he earns the nickel-corner position, and that's true. The difference is that rookie cornerbacks have a lot more to learn and do a lot more struggling than rookie linebackers. So assuming that both Bentley and Whitehead see the field in 2012, I give the edge to Whitehead.
Runner-up: Bill Bentley