They began the rebuilding process at the position when they drafted Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green.
With any building project, the first step is having the right tools. When it comes to Bentley, Greenwood and Green, Lions defensive backs and third down package coach Tim Walton says all the right tools are there for them to do the job. It’s now just a matter of how fast they can build.
“Collectively, (they are) talented. That’s the one word I would use to describe them,” Walton said of the rookie class of defensive backs.
"They have a lot of the tools in the box, now it’s up to me and coach (Marcus) Robertson to develop them and get that out of them.
“But they have the talent and skill set and that’s what you’re looking for. They all bring something to the table.”
The Lions selected Bill Bentley (5-10, 182) out of Louisiana-Lafayette in the third round, which was terrific value by most accounts. Bentley is a good man-cover corner and fits the Lions scheme, though he’s a bit undersized.
“Bentley is quick, athletic, has toughness, has great ball skills, I look for him to come in and be the player he was in college,” Walton said.
“Understand it’s going to be a growth curve that you have to go through, but he has the talent and the ability to be successful in this league and really help our team out with that understanding that it’s going to take time to learn and make that adjustment.”
The Lions spent a lot of time evaluating Green in the pre-draft process and Walton thinks he has tremendous upside.
“He’s a guy that plays well out there on the edge and plays with toughness,” he said of Green (6-0, 184). “He’s one of those guys that fits into what we do and we feel he fits really well into our scheme.
“We play man coverage and he’s a big guy, athletically. You look for guys athletically that fit into the things you do on the back end. You need guys that can be versatile and give you flexibility. When you have the height, the weight and the speed, that gives you a little bit of flexibility with guys.”
None of the Lions’ rookie cornerback prospects have the height, weight, speed and potential of Greenwood (6-1, 193), though. In fact, Walton said Greenwood might have the most untapped talent of the three.
“For me, he has a big upside,” Walton said. “He has the measurables and has the talent. Once we tap into that potential, the sky is the limit for this kid. We’re excited to work with him. He has the tools to work with.”
Walton and the rest of the Lions’ coaches get their first look at the rookies next weekend when they report to Allen Park for rookie mini-camp.
A lot of eyes will be on the rookie cornerbacks next weekend considering how the Lions struggled against the pass at the end of last year.
Which rookie cornerback will set himself apart from the rest?