INDIANAPOLIS – If Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has his way, the Lions will be adding talent to their cornerback group this offseason.
“My feeling is this,” Austin said at his introductory press conference. “In the NFL, you can’t have enough corners. We had three pretty good corners last year (in Baltimore) and we had our work cut out for us.
“So, I think that obviously, that would probably be an area that we would want to make sure we strengthen up."
Whether that’s via free agency, the draft or a combination of both, is currently being worked out in Allen Park.
When it comes to May’s NFL Draft, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert and Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard have emerged as the top two prospects. Both are likely top 20 picks.
Which one comes off the board first is up for some debate.
“I guess we'll see come draft day,” Gilbert told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I think (Dennard) is a pretty complete player. He's not as fast me. I can tell you that.”
Gilbert has the size NFL teams like at 6-foot, 202 pounds and was right about his speed after running unofficial times of 4.35 and 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. His official time settled in at 4.37.
He said he played press coverage about 70 percent of the time in Oklahoma State’s scheme, but also has experience in zone concepts, which should bode well in the NFL.
Dennard (5-11, 199) played mostly man at Michigan State.
He was, however, the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nations top collegiate defensive back this past season. If Austin likes physical corners in his defense, then he’ll love Dennard, who’s considered one of the most physical defenders in this draft.
The question facing Dennard heading into the Combine was his long speed. His official time of 4.51 was the 13th fasted among defensive backs. That's not blazing, but not bad for a physical press corner.
Whether Gilbert or Dennard impressed the Lions enough to select them at No. 10 will be determined 72 days from now
This much is known, though, neither player did anything to hurt their status in Indianapolis.
“Solid,” Gilbert said when asked to describe his game. “My game is solid.”