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News » Cornerback isn't worst of positions for needy Lions


Cornerback isn't worst of positions for needy Lions


Cornerback isn't worst of positions for needy Lions
ALLEN PARK -- For the third consecutive year, the Detroit Lions will have a different set of starting cornerbacks.


Dre Bly and Fernando Bryant were replaced by Leigh Bodden and Brian Kelly, who now will be replaced by Phillip Buchanon and one of these guys: Anthony Henry, Eric King, Travis Fisher, Keith Smith or the team's highest draft pick at that position.

The Lions have had a revolving door at cornerback for years because they have tried to build through Free Agency, and that has failed. They have tried to bolster the position with some mid-round draft choices, but that hasn't worked, either.

The Lions haven't drafted a cornerback in the first round since they took Bryant Westbrook (1997) and Terry Fair (1998) in back-to-back seasons. The Lions failed to re-sign one of their best draft choices -- Andre Goodman, a third-rounder in 2002. Goodman was a part-time starter in Detroit but became a solid, full-time starter when he joined the Miami Dolphins in 2006 as an unrestricted free agent. Goodman recently signed a big contract with the Denver Broncos, receiving $10 million in guaranteed money.

Detroit's new regime wants to build through the draft and not Free Agency, but the Lions still might bypass the cornerback position this year because they have too many other, more pressing needs at other positions.

"You always look, but I think if we had to play a game today, I think I would be confident with the guys that are on the roster right now," said Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who was pleased with the performance of his cornerbacks at the recent minicamp. "It was a good start. We've got a lot of players with experience here and a lot of guys that have started a lot of games. I sort of like what I've seen so far."

The Lions are counting on Buchanon, an unrestricted free agent from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to fill one of the starting spots. Buchanon has had an up-and-down career in his eight years in the league but has been a solid starter for the Bucs in the past two seasons.

Interestingly, the other starting position might go to one of the Lions' few draft choices who has showed promise. Smith was selected in the third round of the 2004 draft, and just as he was developing, the Lions changed to a Tampa Two scheme that did not fit Smith's talents.

Smith has been one of Detroit's best on-ball downfield coverage corners, but he couldn't compete for a starting job under former coach Rod Marinelli because he wasn't strong in run support. Now that Schwartz is changing defensive systems, Smith should have a greater opportunity to show what he can do.

"He's always been a good special teams player, but he's got some pure speed," Schwartz said. "He might be a guy that we can put in some one-on-one situations. He made a nice play in red zone coverage (during a minicamp workout). I think his skill set maybe translates a little bit better to what we're doing."

Schwartz also said the Lions have decent depth with King, who played under Schwartz with the Tennessee Titans, and Fisher, who is a solid nickelback. While the Lions are hoping to rebuild the front seven on defense first, if a quality cornerback falls to them in the early rounds, they'll strongly consider snapping him up and increasing the competition in the defensive backfield.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 23, 2009

Devale Ellis Name: Devale Ellis
#80
Position: WR
Age: 24
Experience: 2 years
College: Hofstra
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