Bill Wippert/Associated Press
In the 2012 NFL draft, the Lions selected three cornerbacks to try and overhaul what had been a chronically underwhelming position on the Detroit defense. Selecting Bill Bentley in the third round, Chris Greenwood in the fifth and Jonte Green in the sixth represented a concerted effort by general manager Martin Mayhew to add and develop talent.
Two seasons later, it's time for that investment to either pay off or go away.
Thus far the returns are not good. Only Bentley has played regularly, though his career has been pockmarked with shoulder injuries and a nasty concussion suffered at the hands (actually shoulder) of teammate Louis Delmas.
Bentley projects as the starting nickelback, but he will have to fend off fourth-round pick Nevin Lawson. The rookie is longer, stronger and seems to be more natural at playing inside. Bentley's solid run support and competitive confidence will keep him on the roster even if he loses the starting slot gig, but such a development would have to be considered a big disappointment.
That word clearly applies to Greenwood: disappointment.
The Lions traded up to select the 6'2" speedster from Albion College, a D-III school in southern Michigan. His athletic measurements were dripping with potential, his length and litheness being especially outstanding.
Alas, that potential has gone unfulfilled. Other than a pretty impressive performance in the 2013 finale against the Minnesota Vikings, Greenwood has continually failed to show much of anything. The team even allowed the Dallas Cowboys to sign him off the practice squad last year, only to bring him back when he quickly washed out in Big D despite Dallas' desperate need of quality play in its secondary.
Greenwood missed the early offseason work with yet another injury, this time a sports hernia surgery. If he's not able to quickly prove he belongs, expect his Lions career to end well before the final cut.
Green did show some promise as a rookie. His ability to turn and run with receivers offered some hope, but thus far the New Mexico State product has not built upon that. He's facing long odds to make the final 53, too.
Even though they were all taken with non-premium picks, it would surely sting Mayhew to see his cornerback plans of two years ago washed away in failure.