Darius Slay was the only Detroit Lions cornerback this past season to record an interception. In total, Detroit’s seven interceptions as a team were the second fewest in the NFL.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn is on the lookout this offseason for players who can make more game-changing plays.
“When we looked back at the stats, and kind of how our defense played, we didn’t really turn the ball over as much as we liked,” Quinn said. “That’s something that’s a combination of players and putting them in the right positions.
“But I think when we’re going through the evaluation process, making sure we’re taking a close look at game-changing plays at the guys we’re looking at in free agency and the draft.”
It’s for that reason Quinn could look to add more competition to the cornerback room, even with all three starters (Slay, Nevin Lawson and Jamal Agnew-slot) under contract for next season.
Quinn will get a chance to evaluate and meet with the top cornerback prospects available in this year’s draft at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis later this month. Who might he have his eye on?
Ht/Wt: 6-2, 182
Best trait: Length. He’s long and athletic, and really burst onto the scene in 2017, when he recorded six interceptions as a redshirt freshman. Williams was named First-Team All-SEC in 2017 and 2018.
Concern: He needs to add some muscle to his frame, which will better help him challenge ball carriers in the run game and shed blockers.
Skinny: He’s a press-man cornerback, who will probably have more opportunities to succeed early on in a man scheme. He’s smooth and athletic, and has a history of production. If Williams tests well at the Combine, he has a chance to be the first cornerback off the board.
View photos of cornerbacks that will participate at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
Ht/Wt: 5-11, 180
Best trait: Complete player. Baker won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back this past season. A couple draft evaluators described Baker as “pesky,” which is a compliment. He plays bigger than his frame would indicate.
Concern: He doesn’t have the length of some of the other cornerbacks in the class. While he does play bigger than he looks, can he match up effectively on the outside with the NFL’s best bigger receivers?
Skinny: Baker is a gamer. He’s consistent and confident, and didn’t allow a single touchdown in his coverage the entire 2017 season. He’s a solid cornerback with the potential to play right away.
School: Notre Dame
Ht/Wt: 5-11, 190
Best trait: Versatility. Love played both inside and outside for the Irish. He's a physical player inside and a willing tackler. Love had a school record 20 pass breakups in 2017 with 68 tackles. He was a finalist for the Thorpe Award this past season after defending 16 passes and totaling 63 tackles.
Concern: He doesn’t possess top-end speed, which could limit his outside potential. His 40-yard dash time will be closely watched by evaluators.
Skinny: He’s one of the best pure cover corners in the class. He’s got terrific ball skills and great instincts, and could find some success right away in the NFL on the inside.
Ht/Wt: 5-11, 189
Best trait: Strength. He’s a chiseled athlete and former two-time Georgia state wrestling champion. He recorded 12 pass breakups, 47 tackles and two interceptions for the Owls last season.
Concern: He has just one year of FBS experience after transferring to Temple last year from Presbyterian College.
Skinny: He battled South Carolina's Deebo Samuel, one of the top receiving prospects in the draft, every day at the Senior Bowl, and won his fair share of those battles. Ya-Sin is a bit raw, but he might have the highest ceiling of any cornerback prospect once teams start working on his technique.
Ht/Wt: 5-11, 180
Best trait: Ball hawk. In 13 starts this past season, he collected 58 tackles and led the team with four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and deflected 13 passes. Murphy made plays on 31 percent of his targeted throws over two years, and posted seven interceptions and 20 pass breakups in just 87 career targets, per NFL.com stats.
Concern: Where does he play? He might be too small and lack the speed to play on the outside. His 40 time at the Combine will be an important test for him.
Skinny: Murphy has a high football IQ, and proved to be a playmaker and ballhawk at Washington. He might be better in the slot, but there was no denying his playmaking ability in college.
School: Penn State
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 204
Best trait: Size. Oruwariye checks off all the physical boxes in terms of length and strength. He was an All-Big Ten player last season after leading the Nittany Lions with 12 pass breakups and tying for the team lead with three interceptions.
Concern: He was a starter for just one season. He’ll need some seasoning, and teams will be interested in his 40-yard dash and long speed potential.
Skinny: He’s a player who started for just one season and will benefit from NFL coaching and technique work. He can cover the league’s bigger receivers and win 50-50 balls. If he runs well, the ceiling is high for him.
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 186
Best trait: Length. Mullen has ideal size and speed for the NFL. He was the title game defensive MVP after recording six tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble to help Clemson beat Alabama for the title.
Concern: There wasn’t a lot of ball production for him. He recorded four interceptions and defended 12 passes the last three years.
Skinny: Mullen is a long cornerback with experience playing in a lot of different coverages at Clemson. His last collegiate game was his best, but teams will wonder why they didn’t see more of that throughout the course of his college career.