*with Buccaneers ^college stats
Best competition: This is a deep and talented group, which means some tough decisions might have to be made later in September.
Diggs and Walker are expected to begin camp as the two starters at safety, but head coach Matt Patricia’s defense utilizes the position to play a lot of different roles. We’ll see multiple safeties in sub packages this season as Detroit and other teams around the league continue to utilize the size, strength and speed of players at the position.
Walker showed a lot of promise in a reserve role last season. His frame and skillset should play well in an expanded role in 2019 filling in for the now retired Quin.
Adams came over in free agency after recording four interceptions last year for Tampa Bay. He’s played in 43 games the last three years with the Giants and Bucs.
Wilson is a crafty veteran with the ability to play either safety spots or the nickel.
Harris was Detroit’s third-round pick this offseason. He plays a physical brand of football that could potentially get him on the field sooner rather than later.
Washington and Killebrew are terrific special teams contributors, but how many safeties can the Lions keep on the roster? Killebrew has been working more with the linebackers lately, but is still listed as a safety.
Last year, Detroit kept six safeties on the initial 53-man roster.
View photos of the safeties competing for roster spots heading into training camp.
Twentyman’s take: The Lions have a nice mix of experience, athleticism and versatility at safety.
Diggs has turned into a star at the position and was a Pro Bowl alternate last season. Walker and Harris give the group a ton of range and athleticism.
Wilson is one of those guys that can play anywhere, and Adams has a history of production.
Overall, it’s strong group.
By the numbers:
4: Interceptions by Lions safeties last year (Diggs 3; Walker 1). Detroit’s seven interceptions total as a team were the second fewest in the NFL last season.
75: Diggs was the only DB in the NFL to finish the 2018 season with at least 75 tackles, three interceptions, three tackles for loss and one pick-six.
203: The total number of opponent plays that went for 10-plus yards. That total ranked ninth best in the NFL. Jacksonville was No. 1 on the list with 172 plays of 10-plus yards allowed by their defense.
80.7: Opponent passer rating last season on throws of 21-plus yards, which ranked 12th in the NFL last season. An opponent completion percentage of 30.8 on such throws was eighth best in the league last year.
Quotable: “I think Tracy last year… showed us a lot of growth through the year," Patricia said earlier this offseason. "He showed us the skillset that he had, and it was probably a little more expansive than maybe what we originally thought when we looked at him on film coming out of college. He was asked to do certain things in college, so we thought we saw some things that potentially he could do and then was able to see that live out on the field when he got here kind of reconfirmed some things that we might be able to do with him, which was always good.
"This year is different. Everybody’s back out there, the team has changed, the defense has changed, and the personnel has changed. He’s out there competing with everybody right now and trying to build on what he did last year. I think certainly in the NFL, every team starts over every year. There’s no carryover from one year to the next. It’s all new, so he’s in the same boat as everybody else. He’s just trying to learn and get better in all those areas.”