Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Corners Back? Are They? Corners?

After rooting into the Safety discussion to round out last week, it is only natural to look at the other half of the defensive backfield -- the Cornerback position.

Ouch. Once again, lets recap what I was thinking last year... wait. I didn't think much at all of the corners last ifseason! As a matter of fact, other than mentioning that at one point they only had one CB under contract, Ramzee Robinson, I didn't say a whole lot.

Essentially, it broke down to 4 players were going to be on the team, battling to start but I wasn't exactly thrilled with any of them -- Fisher, Kelly, Bodden, and Keith Smith. Smith, I thought, was better man-to-man than in zone. I also rightly thought that Stanley Wilson would end up cut.

Zip forward 4 INTS and 12 months later, what do the Lions have at CB?

Lets visit the Lions depth chart as of today and see! (and also check out their article on the secondary)

Age Name Height Weight Age Years College
31 Buchanon, Phillip 5-11 186 28 8 Miami (Fla.)
32 Henry, Anthony 6-1 207 32 8 South Florida
29 King, Eric 5-10 185 26 5 Wake Forest
33 Roberson, Chris 5-11 190 25 4 Eastern Michigan
38 Robinson, Ramzee 5-10 186 24 3 Alabama
41 Smith, Antonio 5-9 192 24 1 Ohio State
23 Smith, Keith 5-11 191 27 6 McNeese State
30 Wynn, Dexter 5-9 175 28 5 Colorado State

Quick - without clicking on their bios, who was with the Lions in 2008? Answer: 4 of the last 5 listed (Antonio Smith was just recently signed). Roberson, Robinson, K. Smith and Wynn all saw action on the 0-16 squad.

The Bad news?? Half of the CB's on the roster were part of a secondary on a team that had 4 INTs TOTAL last season...

The good news?? They are the bottom half.

I see the Lions carrying 4 or 5 CB's into the season, depending on how other battles go. I also have a feeling that at least one of the opening day CB's is not yet on the team.

As of right now, I (like most) have Henry and Buchanan pegged as the starters. Eric King is an excellent Nickle Back, something that appears validated thus far in ifseason workouts. Not looking too good for our other 5 contestants fighting for 1 or 2 spots.

I say they keep 3 additional, only because Henry will be the "5th" guy -- able to start at S or CB if needed. If Henry makes a permanent shift to S, they will carry 5 S as they will shift Henry back to CB in case of injury.

So who do I like among the 5 remaining candidates? Keith Smith and Ramzee Robinson, come on down. Keith Smith is at worst a solid backup, at best could be a starter or in man-on-man situations where speed and cover ability are paramount -- that is where he really excels. Smith is also a very solid special teams player, and that locks him into one of the backup roles in my mind.

At this point with what is on the roster, Robinson would be the best of the rest -- but shouldn't rest easy as I think the Lions will be scouring the waivers as roster limit cuts are made heading into and during camp. The odds of them finding someone better than Ramzee are, thankfully, quite high.

Change in scheme could make a big difference on the secondary but in the end, if there is no pressure form the front 7 then they will get picked apart once again as QB's coming to Detroit look to set their career QB rating records...

The backfield is solid but unspectacular, and could be easily exposed by weaknesses up front. It won't be as bad as last year -- but isn't that kind of like saying "Hey - you only had your foot chopped off! A Lot better than when you lost you entire left arm, huh?"


Isphet said...

NO ONE PUTS BABY IN A CORNER! Except Maybe the '08 Lions because there was no one else to play it.

The Lions picked up a pair of 8 year vets to watch the corners. I hope they still have what it takes for a few years. Can't be worse than last year.

I have a hard time thinking of Ramzee as a viable starter. To me, he will always be Mr. Irrelevant. It's one thing to root for a guy like that to be a backup that sticks with the team, it's another thing completely to rely on the guy to be a contributing member.

Ty said...


Cortland Finnegan was a seventh-round draft pick, and now he's on everyone's short list of the top corners in the league--under the tutelage of Schwartz and Cunningham, no less. I'm not saying Ramzee Robinson is the next Cortland Finnegan, but don't hold a man's draft status against him if he can ball.


nubs said...

Ramzee can play. His knock has always been his small size. It's never been his heart. He's willing to go stick his neck out, and he's a better cover-corner. Remember Rod wanted corners that supported the run well. Ramzee did that even though he was smallish, but he's better at coverage like a Nick Saban CB, and that will play to his strengths. Do I think he'll push for a starter spot? No.

Sorry to see Alex the Lion get cut.

Congrats again to detfan as the web site is again a favorite blog read according to MLIVE

Weston Corbitt said...

Lets just hope the Lions get more pass rush with Gunther Cunningham's aggressive blitzing scheme. Even the best lockdown corners can't cover people forever. The Cover 2 zone didn't do us any favors either. I personally wouldn't have taken the cap hit by releasing Leigh Bodden, thinking he could help us still. At least it cant get worse.

DetFan1979 said...

Bodden was actually a big cap savings; he was a huge hit to the cap in 09 if kept and his deal not re-worked.

I like Robinson and K.Smith (cb) so I hope they both make it. Robinson is a real gamer who plays above natural talent. My saying he could possibly be replaced with a camp cut is testament to his current progress, not his draft status.

As far as "Mr. Irrelevants" go he has already made more of an impact in the NFL than 90% of them.

I hope he makes another leap like he did last ifseason this year in camp, and that the Lions can't find anyone better on the waivers.

Isn't that what we want - a team where the backups are better than waiver wire fliers? I know I do!

It can't get much worse for the secondary, and it still will all come down to the front 7 and pressure.

DetFan1979 said...

Can't get much worse was in reference to the performance of the secondary in 2008.

Weston Corbitt said...

I guess that Bodden was not a huge cap hit, but I think we will still regret letting him go. He showed flashes of potential on a terrible defense in a system that does not allow corners to be effective as they can be. I think he would do better for us than many would think.

DetFan1979 said...

Weston - I agree with you, and I wasn't thrilled with the "make or break" deal they gave him before the season, and wanted them to at least re-work it to give him a tryout with the new staff actually utilizing player strengths.

Unfortunately, his attitude toward the organization after last season made that impossible, despite new management and it was obvious to both sides. One in a long list of many things not handled well by this franchise.

Lets hope we see a LOT less of this in the future!!

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