As the offseason winds down, we're going to project each position on the Detroit Lions depth chart and also take a look at some training camp battles. Next up is the cornerback position.
Starters: Darius Slay, Rashean Mathis, Quandre Diggs (nickel)
Considering both Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis placed inside the top 19 in Pro Football Focus' cornerback rankings last year, there's no uncertainty about who will start at this position for the Lions in 2015. Slay has emerged as the Lions' No. 1 cornerback, and Mathis is quite good in his own right.
The only question mark here is about who will be the top nickelback. Given how much the Lions utilize their nickel package, that is basically another starting spot, and despite being a sixth-round pick this year, I'm expecting Quandre Diggs to grab that role. He will have to beat out a couple of other players, but the reports on him have been extremely positive thus far.
Backups: Alex Carter, Josh Wilson, Nevin Lawson | Other players: Chris Owens, Mohammed Seisay, Crezdon Butler
The top outside cornerback reserve is expected to be third-round pick Alex Carter. The hope is that he won't see much playing time outside of special teams, giving him a chance to learn from the bench behind Slay and Mathis. The other backups will likely be the two leftover players from the nickelback competition. In this scenario, that's Josh Wilson and Nevin Lawson beating out Chris Owens, Mohammed Seisay and Crezdon Butler for the final two spots at cornerback.
Featured camp battle: Quandre Diggs vs. Josh Wilson vs. Nevin Lawson for the No. 1 nickelback job
Other camp battles to watch: The runners-up from the featured camp battle vs. Chris Owens vs. Mohammed Seisay vs. Crezdon Butler for the final two spots at cornerback
The premier camp battle at cornerback involves the nickelback job. Diggs may be viewed as the favorite despite being a rookie, but both Wilson and Lawson could easily make the strongest case for this role. Wilson has been a regular starter in the NFL for the last seven seasons, for example, and Lawson was in line to be the full-time starter last year after Bill Bentley suffered a season-ending injury. A season-ending injury of his own was the only reason that didn't happen for Lawson.
The two players who don't win the nickelback job will then be left to battle for the final two spots at cornerback. Diggs obviously isn't going anywhere even if he ends up in a backup role, and Lawson will probably have a spot on the 53-man roster as long as he is healthy. I suppose a player like Seisay could make things interesting for Wilson, but Wilson's experience will give him a leg up going into training camp.