Inside the Article:
With the 2023 NFL Draft just a few months away, ESPN has recently released an article that compares Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon to Philadelphia Eagles (and former Detroit Lions) cornerback, Darius Slay. This comparison has caught the attention of many NFL fans, including those who support the Lions, who have struggled in recent years, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. In this article, we will discuss why adding a cornerback to the Lions' roster in the upcoming draft is crucial for their success in the 2023 season.
Why it Matters for Detroit Lions
The Lions are definitely on the right path, but they have not made the playoffs since 2016. While they have made some huge improvements to their roster since General Manager Brad Holmes took over for Bob Quinn, their defense remains a major concern. In 2022, the Lions allowed the third-most passing yards in the league, and their pass defense ranked 30th in the NFL. With this in mind, adding a starting cornerback to their roster in the offseason is a top priority for the Lions.
ESPN Compares Devon Witherspoon to Darius Slay
In their recent article, ESPN compared Witherspoon to Slay, a five-time Pro Bowler, and former All-Pro cornerback. Witherspoon has impressed scouts with his physicality, speed, and ball skills. He finished the 2022 season with 3 interceptions and 14 pass deflections, and his ability to lock down opposing receivers has drawn comparisons to Slay.
An aggressive and physical cornerback, Witherspoon is sticky in coverage and uses his size (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) and quickness to stay in-phase and eliminate targets. He had three interceptions and 14 pass breakups this past season. And while run defense doesn't get talked about much with corner prospects, Witherspoon's open-field tackling ability is the best in the class at the position.
Slay, who played for the Lions from 2013 to 2019, was a key member of Detroit's defense during his time with the team. He was known for his ability to play man coverage and shut down some of the league's top receivers. If Witherspoon can live up to the comparisons to Slay, he could be a game-changer for the Lions' defense.
Bottom Line: Detroit Lions Must Add a Cornerback (or Two) in the Offseason
While the Lions could potentially sign a starting cornerback in free agency, it may be wiser for them to select one with either the No. 6 or No. 18 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Witherspoon could be a great option for the Lions if he's available when they make their selection, but if not, there are several other talented cornerbacks in this year's draft class.
In addition to adding a starting cornerback, the Lions may also want to look for depth at the position. They cannot afford to have another season where their pass defense ranks near the bottom of the league. If the Lions want to truly be a contender in 2023, they must improve all three levels of their defense, and adding a cornerback (or two) in the offseason is an absolute must.