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2017 Detroit Lions roster review: Is Quandre Diggs a cornerback or a safety in 2018?

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What will Quandre Diggs’ role be in 2018?

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Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Our 2017 roster review continues with a player that has had an up-and-down career in Detroit. Quandre Diggs had a seriously impressive rookie year back in 2015, but took a big step back the following year. However, last season Diggs may have taken a significant step to change his career path forever. Let’s take a look:

Quandre Diggs

Expectations for 2017

2017 was a pivotal year for Quandre Diggs. After a down year in 2016, his future with the Lions was uncertain, at best. When Detroit added DJ Hayden via free agency and Jamal Agnew in the NFL Draft, many took it as a sign that Diggs’ spot as the team’s nickel cornerback was up for grabs. In fact, we named the nickelback camp battle as the third-most intriguing for 2017.

Early results from offseason practices were inconclusive, leading to headlines as varied as “Don’t count out Quandre Diggs quite yet” to “Quandre Diggs stakes claim as nickel CB.”

By the time the regular season had begun, it was pretty clear Diggs was still the No. 1 nickelback, but it wasn’t clear how long he’d hold that position.

Actual role in 2017

2017 stats: 16 games (11 starts): 55 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 9 passes defended, 3 INTs, 1 forced fumble

PFF grade: 73.5 (73 of 121 cornerbacks; 61 of 87 safeties)

After picking up three passes defended in the season opener, Diggs looked just okay in his role as nickel corner. He was seeing the field around 60 percent of the time, and didn’t have too much of an impact in either direction.

However, everything changed after Thanksgiving. Against the Minnesota Vikings, Tavon Wilson injured his shoulder, causing him to go on injured reserve. While almost everyone assumed Miles Killebrew would take over at strong safety, Jim Caldwell took a risk by placing Diggs, who had never played safety with Detroit, into that role.

... and he thrived almost immediately. In his five starts at safety, Diggs picked up 22 tackles, three interceptions, 1.0 sacks, and a forced fumble. While there were still occasional lapses in coverage, Diggs emerged as yet another playmaker in the secondary, along with Darius Slay and Glover Quin.

Outlook for 2018

Contract status: Signed through 2018

Diggs is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and we really don’t know what to expect from him. Many thought he was ready to make the permanent move to safety, but the Lions just re-signed Tavon Wilson to a two-year deal. Even a move back to nickel corner has been complicated by Detroit’s addition of DeShawn Shead, who can play multiple positions in the secondary as well.

But 2017 proved that Diggs has a natural talent to find the ball and a hunger for hitting. Who can forget this amazing play on Sunday night?

Wilson may have the benefit of working alongside Matt Patricia before, but if Patricia truly has the talent to use each of his players to the best of their abilities, he’ll find a significant role for Diggs in 2018. Be it nickelback, “big nickel,” strong safety or just special teams, Diggs has value, and it’ll be Patricia’s job to unleash it.