CB Amari Spievey (Iowa) - Round 3, Pick No. 66
After already addressing needs at defensive tackle and running back in the first round, the Lions did what everyone expected and picked a cornerback with their third-round selection. There were a variety of names being tossed around on here, but ultimately the Lions decided on Iowa's Amari Spievey, which was one of those "Who?" types of picks.
When I first heard the pick I tried to place where I had heard the name before and realized that, despite following the Big Ten pretty closely, I barely remembered Spievey. Some quick research revealed why the Lions picked him, though, and made me compare him to the DeAndre Levy pick a year ago. Both were third-rounders out of the Big Ten who have potential and fit the Lions' style of play very well, which is why Detroit selected Levy a year ago and Spievey last Friday.
Adam Jacobi of Black Heart Gold Pants (first two parts were included in the original post about Spievey, but they're too great to only be posted once... plus I really want the term "bitchmake" to catch on):
So how are his cover skills? Here, it gets complicated. In the Iowa defense, Spievey was rarely left on an island against a receiver without safety help. That's just the nature of Norm Parker's scheme. He was rather famously scorched on Penn State's first play from scrimmage last year. But... that's it. Otherwise, he's such an adept tackler--second on the team in solo tackles last season, and read that sentence as many times as you need until your brain breaks--that he routinely gave his receiver the underneath. It worked awfully well.
So he's a cornerback that didn't play cornerback like a cornerback? Well, that's unfair. He was still the best cover corner on the Hawkeyes when he had to be, to the point that some quarterbacks just didn't try testing him with anything but those wide open, minimal-gain flat routes. A defense doesn't bitchmake so many opposing QBs without a strong #1 corner. That said, a coach is probably going to be curious whether Spievey can play safety, considering his tackling skills. [...]
Does that mean we're going to like him? His teammates and coaches certainly will the minute he steps onto the practice field and erases some tailback on a swing route. As long as he's not schemed into turning around and chasing guys on fly routes all game long, he will quickly endear himself to fans. Maybe even sell a few jerseys if is transition to the pro game is especially seamless.
Oh, one more thing: Is it seriously pronounced Spuh-vay? Yes. We don't know why either.
What he brings: Spievey is a physical corner with great instincts and ball skills. He is very tough against the run. While he has good size for a corner, he is limited with his top-end speed because of that he could line up at safety.
How he fits: Though the Lions recently acquired three new cornerbacks, the defense was last in the NFL defending the pass last season. Eric King is coming off injured reserve and Spievey has a chance to compete for playing time right away.
Positives: Developing cornerback with a large degree of upside potential. Jams opponents at the line of scrimmage and physical throughout the route. Fluid pedaling in reverse, displays a burst of speed to the action and can run downfield with opponents. Displays a nice break to the ball out of his plant and effectively positions himself against opponents to defend the throw. Consistently has opposing quarterbacks throwing away from him. Works hard to get off blocks and make plays against the run.
Negatives: Must develop a better sense of timing. Gets turned and does not play with great balance. Inefficient.
Spievey is a two year starter for the Hawkeyes after transferring from Iowa Central Community college. He has a good combination of size and athleticism for the position. Spievey doesn’t have great power and pop as a run support defender but gives consistent effort and is solid in the open field. Spievey is just average as a reactor to route progressions and has some work to do in this phase of his game. He does have a good feel for leverage in the running game and is quick to squeeze running lanes from the perimeter. Spievey shows good hands with the ball in the air and is aggressive to make a play in traffic. Spievey is a good football player that has a higher ceiling than many prospects but may take some time to work into a starting role.
Final word: Spievey is someone who really came on throughout the 2009 season. He's a really good zone coverage candidate and could excel in a cover-2 scheme. He has some tools to work with, but his speed and footwork issues limit him a bit. Still, it's hard to dislike a cornerback who plays the run so well and has good instincts.
|Amari Spievey ||G||TOT ||SOLO ||AST ||SACK ||FF ||INT||YDS||LONG||TD||PD|
*Spievey didn't record any stats in the Michigan game and the Orange Bowl against Georgia Tech. Michigan only threw for 124 yards against Iowa, though, and Georgia Tech only had 155 total yards, 12 of which were through the air. Spievey helped shut down Denver first-round pick Demaryius Thomas, who didn't have a single catch in the Orange Bowl.
Highlights from 2008 and 2009:
Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker on Spievey:
Outlook for 2010
Although the Lions have improved the cornerback position by trading for Chris Houston and signing Jonathan Wade, the starting spots are still up in the air. While the general expectation is for Houston to lock up one of those starting spots at some point, the other one is anyone's guess, meaning Spievey could definitely be a starter very early on in his career. Sticking with the DeAndre Levy comparison, I wouldn't be surprised if Spievey developed into a starting-caliber player during his rookie season. The difference is that he may be forced to play early on since there isn't necessarily a veteran player in front of him like there was for Levy with Larry Foote. Either way, I like the potential Spievey brings to the roster and think he can become a physical cornerback in the NFL, which you can bet Jim Schwartz is hoping for as well.