NFL Free Agency 2011: Analyzing the Current State of the Detroit Lions Secondary
In acquiring Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant via free agency, the Lions look as if they have shored up any concerns regarding the middle and outside linebacker positions.
Detroit will move last season's starting middle linebacker DeAndre Levy to his natural outside linebacker position while Tulloch takes over at the “Mike.”
But as far as I'm concerned, one glaring need has yet to be addressed: the secondary.
I understand that the Lions re-signed cornerback Chris Houston and signed Eric Wright.
But both of the aforementioned defensive backs lost their starting positions prior to the Detroit Lions acquiring their services. Houston lost his spot to Brent Grimes in 2009, and Wright was pushed out of his position with the Browns and made expendable by rookie Joe Haden in 2010.
Though I don’t believe that both Wright and Houston are legitimate four down NFL starting caliber cornerbacks, I believe that behind Detroit’s defensive line they can be serviceable.
The combined efforts of Wright, Houston, Alphonso Smith, Jack Williams, Aaron Berry and Nathan Vasher should be more than effective in 2011.
For the first time since I can remember, I don’t even consider the defensive back position to be the weakest link of the Detroit Lions secondary.
Instead, the weakest link is the safety position.
Louis Delmas is a big-play, hard-hitting ballhawk, but there are times when Delmas’ aggressiveness has turned out to be detrimental.
I think that Delmas has the potential to be one of the league's next great safeties, but he’ll never realize that potential without someone he can rely on opposite him.
Just as they did at cornerback, Detroit continues to add safeties who either underperformed or became expendable with their former teams.
I do like the acquisition of Erik Coleman, who at one time was considered one of the surest tackling defensive backs in the entire league.
But can Erik Coleman resurrect his career in Detroit after a serious knee injury sidelined him in 2010?
Coleman is as solid a safety as they come in the NFL, but is he just another Lions player destined for the IR?
As of right now, he’s the odds on favorite to start opposite Delmas heading into 2011.
Amari Spievey has starting potential but in only his second year at safety, the former University of Iowa cornerback is still getting acclimated to the position.
In an article written by Tom Kowalski of MLive.com Spievey was quoted as saying:
"I feel great and 100 times better than I did last year. Last year, I came in overweight and out of shape. This year, I've got a jumpstart, I'm flying around.”
Spievey also acknowledged that Erik Coleman will provide stiff competition:
"I take it as a challenge and I can learn from him, he's been in the league for a while and I can soak in whatever he knows and become a better player.''
I’ll also mention safety Maurice Leggett, but I’m not even sure he will make the Lions’ final 53 man roster. Leggett missed all of the 2010 season for the Chiefs after suffering a severe concussion during a preseason game.
Should the Detroit Lions still be looking at an additional safety prospect via free agency?
Atari Bigby, Donte Whitner and Bernard Pollard are a few of the impact safeties still available.
My opinion is that general manager Martin Mayhew and the Detroit Lions believe that they are set at the safety position and barring a significant injury, the team most likely won’t make a significant effort to pursue another safety this season.
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