Position versatility is one of those things NFL coaches love because of the restrictions on gameday rosters.
Having a defensive lineman who can play inside and outside is a huge asset. So is having an interior offensive lineman who can play guard or center. Safeties who can pinch down in the box and play a dime linebacker role are valuable. The same can be said for cornerbacks who can play both inside and outside.
It was the latter that attracted Bob Quinn and the Lions to cornerback D.J. Hayden in free agency.
Hayden, a former first-round pick for Oakland in 2013, gets a fresh start in Detroit after being hampered by injuries throughout his four-year career.
He's appeared in 45 games (25 starts), and has tallied 179 tackles, 26 pass breakups, three interceptions and three forced fumbles. He played on the outside his first three seasons in Oakland, but moved inside last year and played pretty well for Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio.
"You have to be quick and intelligent to move inside," Del Rio said at Tuesday's AFC coaches breakfast at the league meetings. "To be able to do both is definitely an asset. He's a good young man and I wish him the best."
Detroit has a nice collection of young cornerbacks on the roster, but they're pretty one-dimensional. Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson are outside corners. Quandre Diggs only works on the inside in the slot. In Hayden, Quinn sees a player that can compete at both spots.
"He's going to provide depth at both inside and outside," Quinn said. "That's one of the things that drew us to D.J. was his position versatility. You know, we have guys that are primarily outside guys and we have (Quandre) Diggs who's basically only a slot corner, a nickel corner. So we definitely wanted to add a veteran corner to the mix that had the ability to play inside and out."
If Hayden can stay away from injury, he should be able to provide that in Detroit.
He missed time with groin and ankle injuries his first two seasons, played all 16 games in 2015, then finished last season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
In his only full 16-game season in 2015, Hayden (5-11, 190) recorded 70 tackles, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and eight defended passes.
"I'm going to be wherever I'm needed," Hayden said after signing with the Lions earlier this month. "I'm just ready to work. As a football player, I feel like I can do whatever it is the team needs, whether it's inside, outside, safety or whatever. It really doesn't even matter. I'll just adjust accordingly."
View photos of cornerback DJ Hayden.