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Draft Coverage

What are Lions looking for in a cornerback prospect?

INDIANAPOLIS – Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn knows exactly what he's looking for in a young cornerback coming into the league. He knows from personal experience what the great ones look like. Glenn spent 15 years playing cornerback in the NFL, earning three Pro Bowl nods and one All-Pro selection.

"I think the first thing is personality," Glenn told a group of local reporters at the Combine of what he's looking for this week meeting with all the cornerback prospects at the Combine.

"How do they come in? How confident are they? How do they go about operating with the installs. Me personally, I can tell right off the top if this is a guy who's going to get after it because of just the way he operates. There's a certain aura about a cornerback and a receiver you can immediately (sense), just personality wise and that shows up and they can't help themselves."

Glenn didn't share if any of the cornerback prospects in this year's class jumped out to him in that regard, but there's no denying it's one of the better cornerback classes collectively entering the draft in a number of years. There's also no denying the cornerback position is one of the biggest needs for the Lions this offseason.

The team returns only Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs of the players who logged significant playing time last season for the Lions at cornerback, so expect Lions general manager Brad Holmes to address the need, potentially in both free agency and the draft.

Speaking of the draft, several of this year's prospects seem to have that confidence Glenn wants to see.

"I'm a physical press corner who is going to get in your face," Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. told media members Thursday.

Porter (6-2, 194) is one of the top cornerbacks in the class. He has a high football IQ with elite size and a football pedigree with his father Joey Porter being a former player. He allowed just 15 receptions in 275 coverage snaps for 143 yards and no touchdowns this past season.

Devon Witherspoon of Illinois is the consensus top CB in the class and a player who's been mocked to the Lions at both No. 6 and No. 18. He plays with a confidence and toughness that jumps off the tape. He had three interceptions and 14 passes defended this past season with a 92.0 Pro Football Focus grade, second best among all cornerbacks. He allowed one touchdown the last two seasons combined and forced 18 incompletions, the second most among college cornerbacks in 2022.

Oregon's Christian Gonzalez has the size (6-2, 201) and confidence teams are going to love. His tape is pretty good too. He has a smooth backpedal and loose hips, and recorded four interceptions and seven passes defended.

"It's all confidence playing this position," Gonzalez said. "You are out there on an island by yourself and that's what I live for, big matchups. Anytime I get to go against a great receiver week in, week out that's my favorite thing to do.

"Watching Sauce (Jets Defensive Rookie of the Year cornerback Sauce Gardner) and those rookies ... they are tall and long and kind of lengthy corners and I'm just like them."

Glenn is going to like the length and talent at the top of this draft especially, and the depth overall. This is certainly a good year to go looking for a good, young cornerback in the draft and Glenn knows exactly what he's looking for in one this week.

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