Our 2017 roster review will reexamine the Lions’ roster and how it played out last season. We’ll take a look at expectations, performance and potential role in the future.
Today, we continue our discussion with Detroit Lions safety Tavon Wilson.
Expectations before 2017
Though Wilson was the starter in 2016, the general perception of the veteran safety was that he would slowly fade out of the primary role as youngster Miles Killebrew would take over his role as the year went on.
But when the Lions allowed Rafael Bush to hit free agency and failed to really bring in any competition, it was clear Wilson would have, at the very least, a situational role with the Lions defense in 2017.
Actual role in 2017
2017 stats: 10 games (9 starts): 55 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 2 passes defended
PFF Grade: 45.4 (79th of 86 safeties)
Despite the awful Pro Football Focus grade, Wilson was actually one of the Lions’ better run defenders in 2017. Despite missing the final five games of the season with a shoulder injury, Wilson finished sixth on the team in tackles and first among safeties (excluding Quandre Diggs, who mostly played cornerback).
That being said, he was part of the problem when it came to coverage, and that was made all the more obvious when Diggs took over after Wilson’s injury. While Wilson only had two passes defended all year, Diggs managed five in the five games he played at safety as replacement for Wilson.
Outlook for 2018
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Wilson’s situation is one of the more fascinating for the Lions. There are a few variables at play here. Let’s look at three.
1. Will Quandre Diggs stay at safety?
Diggs had a quiet year as the Lions’ nickel cornerback, but when he moved to safety, he was suddenly a playmaker. At one point in the season, he tallied an interception in three straight games as a safety, and also added a forced fumble in that time.
Was this just an emergency fill-in or will the Lions be considering a full-time change for Diggs?
2. Can Miles Killebrew take a big step in his third year?
Killebrew had to be one of the most disappointing stories of 2017. A fan favorite, Killebrew was expected to contend for a starting spot last season, but couldn’t even manage much playing time after Wilson got injured. What will the Lions’ plans be for Killebrew in 2018?
3. Matt Patricia factor
Patricia is already very familiar with Tavon Wilson. The Patriots drafted him in the second round in 2012—the first year Patricia became New England’s defensive coordinator.
In his four years with the Patriots, Wilson only started four total games, all in his rookie year. He was only a very small role player with New England, and they didn’t sign him to second contract when his rookie deal was up. So it’s not really clear if Patricia’s familiarity with Wilson will be a positive or negative for him.
What should the Lions do with Tavon Wilson?
This poll is closed
Let him walk
Bring him back to compete for a starting job
Bring him back as depth only