2017 Position Breakdown: Safeties

The good: This was a really strong unit for Detroit all season long.

Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson, Quandre Diggs and Miles Killebrew are a versatile bunch with varying specialties that allow a defensive coordinator to be versatile both in the backend and with some of the sub packages.

The four Lions safeties gave up a grand total of three touchdowns in coverage this year, and recorded eight interceptions. Opponents had a passer rating of 63.4 when throwing at Detroit Lions safeties in 2017.

View photos of the Detroit Lions safeties in 2017.

Quin was the unequivocal leader of the group, continuing his iron-man streak of starts (132) and proving once again to be a playmaker.

One surprise performer was Diggs. Moving from nickel cornerback to safety late in the season seemed to be a natural fit for him. He too was a playmaker in that role, and had a stretch of three-straight games recording an interception from Weeks 14-16.

Detroit tied a team single-season record by registering seven return touchdowns on the season, two coming on interception returns by Killebrew (Week 1 vs. Arizona) and Quin (Week 3 vs. Atlanta).

The Lions racked up 19 interceptions this season, and the safety position was responsible for eight of those – Quin (3), Diggs (3), Wilson (1) and Killebrew (1). <span style="text-decoration: underline;"></span>

Since 2016, the Lions are tied with Philadelphia for the most interceptions by safeties (14). Detroit also leads the NFL in interceptions by safeties since 2014 with 31.

The bad: There were a couple big lapses from the unit that cost them this season.

Allowing Carolina tight end Ed Dickson to rack up 175 receiving yards in a Week 5 loss was a back breaker.

Letting JuJu Smith-Schuster behind the defense for a 97-yard touchdown in a Week 8 loss to Pittsburgh was the biggest play in that game.

When Wilson was injured late in the year and was placed on IR, most assumed Killebrew would step in and fill that role, but the team instead moved Diggs to safety.

It was a sign that Killebrew still has some developing to do, but Lions general manager Bob Quinn said after the season he expects Killebrew's role to continue to grow. With Diggs playing so well at safety, it will be interesting to see where that leaves Killebrew in 2018.

Key stat: The Lions ranked No. 1 in the NFL allowing just 62 points outside the red zone. The NFL average was 101 points. This statistic speaks to the ability of Detroit’s defense to not give up long scoring plays.

Free agents: Tavon Wilson (unrestricted)

Wilson has been good in the strong safety role in Detroit the last two seasons. He’s smart and a sure tackler, and has some versatility to his game. He and Quin operate nicely in the back end of Detroit’s defense as a tandem.

What will be interesting this offseason is what the new coaching staff wants to do with Diggs. Does he go back to the nickel or is he a safety moving forward? This certainly could have an impact on Wilson’s free-agent future.

Draft: Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is considered a top five prospect in this year’s class by most draft analysts. Florida State’s Derwin James is also very high on a lot of lists of the top prospects available in this year’s draft.

Other names to keep an eye on are: Ronnie Harrison (Alabama), Armani Watts (Texas A&M), Justin Reid (Stanford) and Kyzir White (West Virginia).

MVP: Quin is quietly (didn’t make the Pro Bowl or All-Pro teams) one of the best safeties in the NFL. He put up another strong season with 84 tackles, three interceptions, and four forced fumbles.

Quotable: “I’m pretty sure everyone is a little uncertain right now,” Quin said after the season about Detroit's impending coaching change. “Who are they going to bring in? Are you going to fit in their scheme? There’s a lot of things up in the air right now and I’m in the same boat.”

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