LOS ANGELES – Just how good of a cornerback can Amani Oruwariye become for the Detroit Lions?
Oruwariye, in his third year out of Penn State, had a breakout 2021 season. He was one of three NFL players to log at least 50 tackles, 10 passes defended and six interceptions this past season. His six interceptions were the third most in the league, despite missing three games at the end of the season with a thumb injury. Opposing passers completed less than 60 percent of their passes when throwing at him with a 60.2 passer rating. Oruwariye gave up two touchdowns in his coverage area all season.
Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, a former Pro Bowl NFL cornerback who played over 15 seasons, said back in December the next step in Oruwariye's development is to become a shutdown corner as far as his man cover skills.
"That's always the end goal," Oruwariye told detroitlions.com on Radio Row Wednesday. "I think if you're playing corner and you don't want to be a lockdown, it's not the position for you, bro.
"I'm process oriented. I have a lot to build off from last year, I just have to take it day by day and get my body ready."
Treating football as a process has suited Oruwariye just fine dating back to his college days at Penn State.
"I've just been all about just finding a way to get better each year, each week, each game and each day," he said. "I think I did that this year. I tried to increase my film study every single week. Learning from guys like AP (defensive backs/pass game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant). Learning from guys like AG (Glenn).
"That's how I was in college. Came in, learned a little bit, redshirted, played some special teams and each year was kind of growing confidence. That's just been my MO every stage of football."
View photos from DLA Field Trip to the Charles H. Wright Museum.
Oruwariye's confidence level is high after the year he had in Detroit. He said the next step in the process isn't just to be a lockdown defender, but to also bring his teammates with him in that process to accomplish more as a team.
"I think we have a lot of guys with talent and I'm nowhere near my peak," he said. "I know they are nowhere near their peak as well. I think if I can just rally everyone around and keep playing with that confidence, we'll be a hard defense to play against."
If Detroit does that, learns to finish games, and adds a couple more pieces on defense, Oruwariye thinks they can put a lot more notches in the win column pretty quickly with the foundation they've already built over the last year.