“At home, drawing pictures of mountain tops with him on top Lemon yellow sun.” Hey Lions fans. I’m still in Seattle. Imagine all of this in a Eddie Vedder voice. Or just use this video to understand my over exaggerations about Seattle.
Earlier this week I met up with John Fraley of Field Gulls to talk about new Lions tight end Luke Willson. The original plan here was to talk to someone else about both former Seahawks the Lions have acquired in free agency. I originally planned to meet with Mookie Alexander, also of Field Gulls, but Mookie explained to me that he had been blocked on Twitter by Willson and probably wasn’t the best person to ask about Luke.
But he did say that he could help me with new Lions cornerback DeShawn Shead. So we met up at The Athenian for lunch, and I sat in the same exact table that Tom Hanks sat at in Sleepless in Seattle. Which, of course, means I’ll soon meet up with Meg Ryan in New York. But then again, I already went to New York last week. Anyways, here’s what Mookie had to say about DeShawn.
POD: What are your overall thoughts on Shead’s time in Seattle?
FG: “Considering he was an undrafted free agent, I’d consider Shead’s tenure with the team a success. His breakthrough as a defensive starter came in 2015, when the abject failure that was the Cary Williams signing resulted in Williams being benched and then released. Shead became the full-time starter that November, and had four passes defensed against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was as many as the frequently-burned Williams had managed all season.
He remained the team’s right cornerback (opposite Richard Sherman, of course) until the ACL tear in the January 2017 playoff loss to the Falcons. It’s no secret that the Seahawks have been great at identifying talent in the secondary, and Shead went from a special teams contributor to an effective player on defense.”
POD: What are his strengths?
FG: “Shead is quite versatile. Not only is he of value on special seams and as a cornerback, but he started one game at strong safety in place of Kam Chancellor during his brief holdout in that same 2015 season. In fact, he’s a safety-to-CB convert, and before Seattle released him, there was talk of moving Shead full-time to strong safety, given the uncertain future of Kam Chancellor and Bradley McDougald (who has since been re-signed). At cornerback, he’s a physical, athletic, very good tackler who stays disciplined in coverage, at least within the confines of Seattle’s system.
2016 was his first full season—unfortunately, also his only season—with increased responsibilities in pass defense, and he performed above expectations without being exceptional. His 6-foot-1, 220 lbs frame is also ideal for the modern game, and he rarely has the sort of lapse that leaves him miles behind a receiver in one-on-one situations. It may also be a surprise to some that he’s never committed a pass interference penalty, and has actually kept the penalties fairly low on a team known for getting flagged regularly.”
POD: What are his weaknesses?
FG: “If you’re hoping Shead can generate turnovers like Sherman, Byron Maxwell, or even Brandon Browner, you’re going to be disappointed. He only has two interceptions to his name, and one of them was pretty much a wobbling gift thrown to him by Tom Brady. Unfortunately, Shead does not possess great ball skills and I don’t really expect that to change any time soon.
This occasionally also includes not looking back for the ball, especially deeper downfield, and he either gives up a reception or essentially misses an opportunity at an interception or a pass defensed. Apart from that, there aren’t too many bad games or things I can highlight from Shead, but the 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams saw him get repeatedly torched by Case Keenum and Kenny Britt to the tune of 6 catches for 94 yards. Easily the worst game of his career.
Really the biggest concern at this stage for Shead is how he’ll look after such a horrific injury. He didn’t appear in any Seahawks games last season until the penultimate weekend, and even then he played all 46 of his snaps on special teams.”
POD: Can Shead make a large impact in Detroit? Or is he better served as a role player?
FG: “I suppose one of the fears with bringing in a Seahawks CB is whether he’s a “system guy” or good regardless of scheme. Byron Maxwell is Exhibit A, as the Eagles paid him to be an All-Pro type of cornerback, and it backfired spectacularly. It’s not remotely the same situation in Detroit, where Shead is not only on a one-year deal, but the Lions don’t need a #1 CB when they already have Darius Slay.
That said, I’m not sure how Matt Patricia plans to use him, so it’s hard to determine how large an impact he can have. With that said, assuming Shead can recapture his 2016 form, then you have an instant asset on special teams coverage and defense, and it doesn’t hurt the wallet too much. I definitely wish Shead the best with the Lions... except when Seattle plays at Detroit later this season.”
I have to once again thank Mookie Alexander and John Fraley from Field Gulls. Really I’ll just thank the whole site. Despite the many reasons I have to hate them, such as the batted ball and 2016’s playoff loss, I don’t. They’re nice people. go look for their work at Field Gulls.