The Detroit Lions have had secondary trouble for years. Dre Bly was a great corner, the Lions never addressed their need for one opposite. The Lions now believe they have a top corner currently on their team. They traded the Atlanta Falcons a 6th round pick and swapped 5th rounders to acquire Chris Houston back back in March of 2010.
Three years later and a gamble made on himself, Houston looks to cash in on his time with the Lions. He's forced 11 turnovers over this span returning two for touchdowns. In 2012 alone, he had 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles.
As the Lions turn their focus towards re-signing the soon-to-be free agent Chris Houston, they also must turn their attention on finding a sufficient counterpart.
The Lions had Eric Wright in 2011, who proceeded to intercept 4 passes and force one fumble on the season, while providing support for Houston on the other side of the defense. This past season, the Lions were forced to play two rookies and three others playing on the veterans minimum.
Five players started opposite Houston for the Lions last season, that has to stop.
In comes Kyle Arrington, of the New England Patriots. In the 2012 season opener, Arrington started in the left-corner-back slot. His first half the season was up and down, allowing 76% of his passes completed and 11.7 yards per pass attempt in that first half. (These stats provided by Dave's Breakdown).
In the second half of the season, the Patriots traded for Aqib Talib, allowing Arrington to move into the slot and right corner. He improved steadily over the course of the season, such that by the end of the year his skills as a strong cover corner were hard to ignore.
Pro Football Focus agree's. Their evaluation metrics grade Arrington positively in eight of the last 10 weeks of the season, including playoffs, after a first half in which he graded positively in just four of the first eight weeks. Not only was solid versus the pass, he was great against the run all season. He was the 17th best corner versus the run, according to Pro Football Focus, having only one week scoring a negative grade.
A lot of people I've personally talked to attribute his overall improvements to his move inside to the slot corner position, and it's true that he flourished after moving inside following the acquisition of Aqib Talib. However, his improvement was never more evident than in the AFC Championship Game, where Arrington had to move outside following the early injury to Talib. Arrington was matched up against the Ravens Torrey Smith on many plays, yielding just three catches for 49 yards on seven targets over 66 snaps.
The Lions have a history, under Martin Mayhew giving players a shot to capitalize on one year deals, allowing them to gamble on themselves to make a huge splash on their next deals. Wright did it, Stephen Tulloch had his payday last year, Houston and Cliff Avril will have their shot soon enough this off-season.
Arrington could be the next in line. He would give the Lions a stop gap for their three young corners they drafted last year, Jonte Green, Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood, to develop allowing a formidable corner group.
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