2016 Position Breakdown: Safety

The good: The safety and quarterback positions for the Detroit Lions in 2016 were probably the two most stable.

Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson, Rafael Bush and Miles Killebrew missed just one game between them at safety, and all four played a role throughout the season. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin recognized early on that he could utilize all four players' skill sets, and found packages throughout the year to get all four players on the field.

The Lions were one of only two teams (Tampa Bay) in the NFL with three safeties who recorded two-plus interceptions and one of five teams who had four safeties with at least one interception.

View photos of the Detroit Lions safeties in 2016.

Three of those interceptions occurred after the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter to seal victories, which are the most by Lions safeties in the final two minutes of a game since at least 1991.

Detroit's seven total interceptions from the safety position were tied for fourth most in the NFL this season.

The bad: While the Lions ranked in the top half of the NFL defending the deep pass, which is a primary responsibility of the safety position, they also have to take responsibility for their part in allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete a league-record 72.7 percent of their passes for a 106.5 passer rating. Those are team defense stats, which the safeties are a part of.

There was also a rough stretch through the first 10 games or so where both the safeties and linebackers had all sorts of issues defending opposing tight ends. That aspect was much improved by the end of the season, however.

Key stat: Quin was the only player in the league this season to play every defensive snap for his team. The final tally for Quin was 1,027 snaps.

He played in all 16 games for a seventh consecutive season, and has now started 116 regular-season games in a row. He finished 2016 with 68 tackles, two interceptions, five passes defended and a forced fumble.

Free agents: Bush is the only unrestricted free agent.

Starters Quin and Wilson are under contract for 2017, as is Killebrew.

Bush started four games for Detroit this season, and was a major contributor in the other 13 (including the playoffs). He finished with 53 tackles, two interceptions, a sack and three defended passes in the regular season.

Killebrew, who played in all 16 games as a rookie, looks to be ready for a larger role in 2017. It will be interesting to see what that means for Bush, who took advantage of his playing opportunities this past season.

Draft: There is some nice top-end talent in this year's safety class that should hear their names called on Day 1 of the draft.

LSU's Jamal Adams, Ohio State's Malik Hooker and Michigan's Jabrill Peppers could go in the first round.

After that, Budda Baker (Washington), Marcus Williams (Utah) and Marcus Maye (Florida) give the class some nice depth for Day 2.

MVP: Quin is as steady as they come at the position. He's always in the right spots, and when a play is to be made in his general vicinity, the veteran always seems to be there to make it.

He has some of the best instincts in the game, and his tackling in the open field is sometimes an undervalued part of his game that's saved the Lions' defense more than a few times during his tenure.

Most improved: The rookie Killebrew steadily saw his snaps increase on defense the more coaches saw him make plays. He was particularly good for the Lions on third down.

He led the Lions with five tackles in their win over Jacksonville on just 12 defensive snaps. Four of those tackles came on third down and forced Jaguars punts.

The following week against Minnesota on Thanksgiving, Killebrew forced two more punts with tackles in the open field on third down, and had four tackles in the game on just nine defensive snaps.

He finished with 20 tackles in 158 snaps, while also picking up eight special teams tackles.

Killebrew has great size and he's strong and fast and will be looking for an increased role on defense in 2017.

Quotable: "Just keep working," Quin said after the season when asked what the Lions need to do this offseason to turn the corner in 2017. "When you go into the offseason you have a lot of time to think about what happened, what didn't happen, plays you could have made and how you can take care of your body more.

"All those little things. You just have to come back and learn from this experience and try to take your game to the next level."

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