Key loss: Louis Delmas
Making the cut: Quin, Ihedigbo and Carey
On the bubble: Gomes, Abdul-Quddus, Couplin, Lynn
Best competition: Who’s the fourth safety?
The Lions have an interesting mix of veterans in Gomes and Abdul-Quddus and rookies Couplin and Lynn battling it out for that fourth spot on the roster.
Gomes and Abdul-Quddus are each entering their fourth season in the NFL and have over 40 games of NFL experience under their belts. Both have been pretty good special team performers over the early portions of their career, which will play a big factor in who gets the fourth safety spot.
Couplin and Lynn had impressive senior seasons in college last year with Couplin racking up 113 tackles and Lynn leading Oklahoma with four interceptions.
The Lions made signing Couplin as a free agent a high priority after the draft, and they love his potential once the pads come on. The kid looks more like a linebacker than he does a safety at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds.
The veterans got more reps in the offseason, but that’s to be expected. The real competition will begin when the pads come on and the hitting starts.
Twentyman’s take: It’s a shame Louis Delmas’ knees didn’t allow him to be the player last year he once was.
The Lions have moved on and like the combination they now have in Quin and Ihedigbo. Ihedigbo’s signing allowed the Lions to move Quin to free safety, where they feel he can become more of a playmaker.
An ankle hobbled Quin most of last season and it required offseason surgery to fix. He still managed a career-high three interceptions last year, along with two sacks and a forced fumble, but both he and the Lions are expecting a lot more production now that he's healthy and playing the free spot.
Ihedigbo knows defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s defense from their days in Baltimore and adds a distinct in-the-box dimension to the back-end of that defense. He’s a sure tackler (101 tackles in 2013), but is probably an underrated pass defender after recording 11 pass breakups last year and finishing with three interceptions. He’s smart and he’s going to be in the right place at the right time, which can also be said for Quin.
Austin has made it his mission to limit the big plays given up by the Lions defense last year and Quin and Ihedigbo should help accomplish that.
Austin has a security blanket in Carey, who is a very capable stand-in as well as one of the team’s best special teamers.
The Lions have upgraded the position with Quin at free safety and Ihedigbo at the strong.
By the numbers:
5: 50-plus yard runs allowed by the Lions defense last year
20.8: Percent of the time opposing offenses converted on 3rd down and 6 or longer against the Lions defense. It was the sixth-best percentage in the NFL last year.
187: Points allowed by the Lions defense outside of the red zone
“Obviously, I didn’t feel like I was able to do all the things I like to do on the field. I wasn’t able to make all the plays that I could have made on the field. But I tried to give what I could give and hopefully this year I won’t have to deal with that and I’ll get to fly around and have fun.”
-- Lions safety Glover Quin