New Lions linebacker Chris Board spent his first four NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh before signing with Detroit this offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
Board, an undrafted free agent back in 2018 out of North Dakota State, led the Ravens' special teams, a unit that is annually one of the best in the NFL, with 11 special teams tackles in 2021. That total was more than any Lions player on special teams last season.
Board is also hoping to expand his defensive resume in Detroit. Harbaugh thinks Board can handle more of that responsibility, if asked to do so with the Lions.
"I think he's also a very good linebacker," Harbaugh said earlier this week at the NFL owners meetings in Florida. "He's a good space linebacker. He's a good coverage linebacker. He's tough. He runs to the ball. They are getting a great guy and a heck of a football player."
Board appeared in 63 games (two starts) and recorded 59 tackles (31 solo), 2.5 sacks, one pass defense, two forced fumbles and 35 special teams tackles (21 solo) the last four seasons.
Board instantly becomes a core special teamer in Detroit, but he'll have a chance to compete for playing time on defense alongside Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Josh Woods and others at linebacker.
The coverage aspect of Board's defensive game that Harbaugh talked about this week could certainly get him on the field defensively on third down and in passing situations. The Lions' defense ranked 29th in third-down defense and 30th with opposing passers having a 101.0 passer rating against this past season.
View photos of new Lions LB Chris Board.
"There's an opportunity to come in and play and let the chips fall where they may," Board said after signing with Detroit. "I'm just looking forward to that. I'm thankful to be here. I've just got to earn it so I can take that next step, as far as improving and increasing my defensive snaps."
In Board, Harbaugh says the Lions are getting an all-around great teammate and great player.
"Chris Board is a great guy," Harbaugh said. "We loved Chris on our team for the last number of years. He's a heck of a football player. Chris came in and just was impressive since Day 1. Complete football player. In terms of special teams, he's going to be a stalwart. Great special teams player, and he'll be a leader."