Detroit's secondary is going to look very different than last year with potentially three new starters in Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant at corner and Duron Harmon at safety. They could join returning starters Justin Coleman (nickel corner) and safety Tracy Walker to make up that unit in 2020.
Harmon, along with Trufant, are the veterans among that group entering their eighth seasons. The Lions acquired Harmon this offseason via a trade with the Patriots. He spent the last seven years in New England. He's quickly become a leader and mentor, especially to some of the younger players like Walker and Okudah. Early on in training camp, Harmon said he's already impressed with what he's seeing from those two young core secondary members.
"Nothing but great impressions," Harmon said in a Zoom call Tuesday when asked about playing alongside Okudah and Walker. "Two talented players.
"When you think about Tracy, he was a third-round draft pick, played in a reserve role his first year and then second year played exceptionally well. Covers guys well, tackles guys well. I think he had over 100 tackles. You see the talent. You see all the tools that can make him a great player, it's just about continuing to get those reps and continue to try and get better each and every day, and you see that how he works out and how he's always trying to be competitive, trying to win."
View photos from workouts during Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Aug. 10, 2020.
Walker led the Lions with 100 tackles and 79 solo tackles last season, despite missing three games due to injury. His 79 solo tackles and six tackles for loss ranked in the top five in the NFL last year among defensive backs. Walker produced at least six tackles in 11 games last season, the most a Lions defensive back has had in a single season. Needless to say, big things are expected of him in Detroit's defense this season.
"And then Jeff (Okudah), third overall pick," Harmon said. "The talent is there, for sure. He's just another guy who is just willing to learn. He's always asking questions about Steph (Patriots All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore) and how the room worked over in New England. A guy who's just trying to learn.
"He obviously has a lot of talent ... what I've seen so far is just exciting to have those type of guys with that type of mindset."
Harmon was the third safety in New England behind talented veterans Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty. Playing in roughly 64 percent of the Patriots defensive snaps over the last three seasons, Harmon was still extremely productive with 10 interceptions. He came to Detroit looking for an expanded role, and he's expected to compete with second-year safety Will Harris for a starting job alongside Walker in the backend of Detroit's defense this season.
With so many new pieces in the secondary for the Lions this season, Harmon said it's going to take some time to gel and learn each other. But Harmon also said getting to that point will be easier with good young players like Walker and Okudah who want to be great, and are putting in the work to be great.