Louis Delmas: 5 Reasons the Detroit Lions Ball Hawk Is Honolulu Bound in '11

Kyle Gibbons@@FI2ANCHISEAnalyst IIIMay 29, 2011

Louis Delmas: 5 Reasons the Detroit Lions Ball Hawk Is Honolulu Bound in '11

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    (AP Photo)
    (AP Photo)

    Western Michigan University product Louis Delmas is an absolute animal. He is ruthless aggression personified. The premiere intangibles found in Pro Bowl-caliber defensive backs across the league are plainly illustrated in Delmas’ play.

    Although he was a rookie Pro Bowl alternate selection following the 2009 season Louis Delmas is a relatively unknown talent outside of Detroit.

    While playing through a significant groin injury Delmas’ defensive presence and impact in the Detroit secondary were vastly overlooked in 2010. Though he wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl, his numbers were comparable to that of NFC free safety 2011 Pro Bowl selection Antrelle Rolle.

    Delmas underwent a surgical procedure in January to correct his injured groin. Just last week he indicated that he’s at about 85 percent. Delmas still experiences issues with scar tissue breakup and soreness following workouts, anticipated after effects of a successful procedure in which Delmas is expected to be ready whenever spring practice opens.

    Louis Delmas will be the first Detroit Lions Pro Bowl safety since the likes of Bennie Blades in ’91—here are five reasons why.

1. Building from the Foundation of an Impressive 2009 Rookie Season

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    SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 08:  Safety Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions returns an interception for 29 yards against the Seattle Seahawks on November 8, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Lions 32-20. (Photo by Otto Greule
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    One of the top NFL defensive rookies in 2009 Louis Delmas’ transition from the college game to the pro game was virtually seamless.

    After becoming only the second player in NFL history to return both a fumble and an interception for a touchdown in a single game Delmas was named September's NFL Defensive Player of The Month.

    Along with eight pass deflections Louis picked off two passes in 2009, one of which went for a 101-yard touchdown versus Arizona in Week 15.

    Amazingly as a first-year safety he recorded nearly 94 tackles, in comparison, Steelers 2010 Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison recorded only 79 tackles while playing one more game than Delmas.

    Delmas was named the 2009 Detroit Lions Rookie of the Year in voting by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.

    Look for Louis to build from the foundation laid in his rookie season to inspire a 2011 explosion in performance.

2. Great Mental Toughness and the Ability To Play Through Injury

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    DETROIT - NOVEMBER 07:  Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions looks on during the Lions overtime loss to the New York Jets at Ford Field on November 7, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The Jets defeated the Lions 23-20 in overtime.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty I
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    I don’t believe that Delmas’ injury history is cause for concern. In playing 15 games in each of his first two years it’s clearly evident that Delmas’ mental toughness is indisputable.

    Though he voiced frustration with the groin injury sustained in the preseason that followed him throughout the 2010 regular season, he still participated in team practices, though at times at a limited schedule.

    In being an explosive hitter Delmas is always subject to injury, but he has a rare aggressive mentality that can’t be taught.

    I alluded to the successful surgical procedure he underwent in January to repair his groin injury in the introduction, further stating that there is no apprehension in Delmas moving forward in 2011 with any lingering after effects.

3. Versatile Playmaking Ability

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 19:  Safety Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    At nearly 6’0" carrying a 210-pound frame Louis Delmas is one of the greatest impact players featured in the Detroit Lions defense.

    In his two-year career he has made 178 tackles, three sacks, forced two fumbles, deflected nine passes and made two interceptions.

    Delmas is a home run-hitting game-changer; a hard-hitting free safety that flies around the field with speed and reckless aggressiveness. Delmas’ game is predicated on superior athleticism and toughness.

    One thing is certain—opposing quarterbacks locate and identify Detroit Lions free safety Louis Delmas.

4. Hard-Hitting Safety from the Troy Polamalu Mold

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    DETROIT , MI - OCTOBER 11:  Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled after a fourth quarter catch by Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions on October 11, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Pittsburgh won the game 28-20.(Photo by Gregory
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Delmas is the most versatile safety in the National Football League...I apologize; I got carried away. The most versatile safety in the league today is Pittsburgh Steelers future Hall of Famer, hard-hitting safety Troy Polamalu, but I don’t believe it’s a term too far removed when speaking of Delmas.

    Unlike Polamalu, Louis Delmas doesn’t have the elite speed necessary to properly matchup against field-stretching burners like DeSean Jackson and Mike Williams. In knowing that, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham's strategy is to rely heavily on Delmas’ cover ability handling receivers and tight ends on underneath routes. Delmas has also displayed a great proficiency in picking backs up coming out of the backfield in passing situations. 

    Ball-hawking safeties like Louis Delmas have the ability to change games—ball skills translate into takeaways.

    Like Polamalu, instinct through preparation and experience combined with a sacrificial willingness to take action are variables that will one day set Delmas apart from the rest of the league. 

5. The Successful Growth and Adaptation of Surrounding Talent in 2011

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    DETROIT - DECEMBER 12: Aaron Rogers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass as DeAndre Levy #54 and Cliff Avrill #92 of the Detroit Lions rush the passer during the second quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 12,
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    DeAndre Levy is really the greatest intangible in the growth of Louis Delmas and the Detroit Lions secondary. It is imperative that Levy develops into a solid gap-filling middle linebacker essential to a 4-3 defensive scheme. If Levy can impact the defense at, say, a Gary Brackett level, Louis Delmas will be free to do what he was drafted by Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz to do: play the free safety position.

    I’ve got four names that could make a high school freshman free safety look like he has great instincts. Vanden Bosch, Suh, Fairley and Avril. With the greatest defensive front in the National Football League in front of him in 2011, look for Delmas to flourish. He will be released upon opposing offenses allowed to hunt by instinct, while mercilessly devouring the scraps the rest of the pride have graciously left him.

    Bringing in free agent talents like Nnamdi Asomugha, Brent Grimes, Rocky McIntosh, Stephen Tulloch or Barrett Ruud would only solidify a 2012 Pro Bowl selection for Delmas.

    Already recognized as a top, young, defensive prospect Delmas is on par for his first trip to Honolulu in 2011, unless he’s busy packing for Indianapolis.