With the first wave of free agency concluded and the NFL Draft quickly approaching later this month, the Detroit Lions still have some position groups they need to add depth and talent to. One of those groups is cornerback, where the Lions still remain a little thin, even after the signing of veteran Corn Elder on Thursday.
"It's a position that we'll continue to address now (and) throughout the entire process, up into the draft, and even after the draft if need be," Lions general manager Brad Holmes told reporters last week before the Elder signing. "It's definitely a position that is not going to be overlooked or ignored."
The Lions released veteran cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman this offseason and now have four cornerbacks currently under contract on the roster.
Holmes said he likes the youth and upside of the current group of corners, led by last year's first-round pick Jeff Okudah and third-year veteran Amani Oruwariye, who started 15 games last year and was Detroit's most consistent corner. Okudah and Oruwariye are expected to start on the outside.
Elder, 26, is likely to compete for the starting nickel spot. He had his best season as a professional last season, when he played in all 16 games for Carolina and racked up 40 tackles.
Veteran Mike Ford was re-signed this offseason. He adds experience and depth to the unit, but there's still room for an additional two or three cornerbacks to be signed.
"The coaching staff that we have on board, starting with (defensive backs coach) Aubrey Pleasant, (defensive coordinator) Aaron Glenn, I do think that those guys will help those young kids tremendously and their development," Holmes said. "But that is a position that we'll continue to look to address now and through the draft."
Glenn comes to Detroit after serving as New Orleans' defensive backs coach the last five seasons. He helped turn the Saints secondary from one of the worst in the league before he got there to one of the league's best during his tenure. He's had a helping hand in the growth of safeties Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams, as well as cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who was the youngest Saint (21 years old) ever selected to the Pro Bowl and the franchise's first AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The Lions are hoping he can do something similar with Detroit's secondary.
"I can't express how blessed I feel to have Aubrey (Pleasant) and Aaron (Glenn) in the building," Okudah told detroitlions.com in a recent interview. "Those are guys that obviously ... Aaron was an All-Pro corner, had tremendous success in the NFL. I don't think you'll find a lot of guys that know technique, know how to coach the scheme.
"I've heard (Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen) Ramsey give his testimonial of how (Pleasant) has impacted his play. I've heard Marshon Lattimore talk about how Aaron Glenn has impacted his play. So, I think the want to be great is there, but to have coaches that are able to get you to where you want to go to."
There are still some veteran free-agent corners Holmes could continue to look to sign, but the draft can also help. Scouts Inc. has 10 cornerbacks in this class with at least an "outstanding prospect" rating or higher.