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Much like Fairley, the starting safety is wildly inconsistent. He's a gambler, and while that attitude pays off with big plays like the interception in the finale, it can also surrender big plays. His flippant regard for safety drew some deserved penalties while also knocking out teammate Bill Bentley (pictured).
Two things which help his grade: Delmas stayed healthy all year, and his range in coverage was much better than in prior years. He also earns a bump for being the vocal leader of the defense and a great ambassador in the community.
The other starting safety also displayed some inconsistency. His coverage ability against tight ends was solid, and he proved very good at swooping in on run support to submarine ball-carriers.
Yet he had some notable clunkers. His pursuit angles were iffy at times, and he flat-out whiffed on a few tackles as well. The two sacks and three interceptions help level the ledger.
The veteran corner had a couple of really strong games (Dallas, Arizona), but otherwise Houston was in over his head when matched up with the oppositions' top receivers. His maddening inability to anticipate or locate the ball in the air allows receivers to make plays even when Houston has tight coverage.
Lingering injuries, which forced him to miss three of the final four games, mitigate the negative grade. So does his generally willing run support. But if Houston is the top corner on the roster again next fall, the Lions have a problem.
Signed off the street late in preseason, Mathis was a godsend. He was the best cover corner on the team, and it wasn't really close. Mathis proved reliable and positionally responsible, a steadying influence for the youngsters behind him on the depth chart.
The Lions start three corners and just two linebackers, and Bentley manned the slot when he was healthy. Unfortunately he missed several games with various injuries.
The second-year pro was solid in short-area coverage and run support, but struggled the further away he got from the line. He played well enough to earn the same role next season.