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Where in the world is Miles Killebrew?

The once-stud rookie has been nowhere to be found on the Lions’ defense, and seems to be headed in the wrong direction.

NFL: Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our 2018 Roster Review series with an investigation into where in the world Miles Killebrew has disappeared to.

Miles Killebrew

Outlook before 2018

The Miles Killebrew situation in Detroit was a hot mess heading into 2018. Killebrew was thought to be a big piece of the future Lions defense when he was drafted in 2016, and for his first year he looked the part. Killebrew’s role expanded as the season progressed, and the rookie racked up 20 tackles and an interception.

That got hopes high for 2017, and Killebrew delivered. Well... it’s complicated. Killebrew got off to a hot start, earning three starts and making his presence known all over the field, including a game-sealing pick-six against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1.

About five or six games into the season, however, Killebrew completely dropped off the map. His play had regressed, and Teryl Austin and the defensive staff decided it wasn’t worth riding out Killebrew’s bad play.

That led us to the 2018 offseason, in which Matt Patricia came along with his new defensive scheme. It was unclear what role Killebrew would occupy—he’s a hybrid type that usually smart people like Patricia can find a unique role for, but the downside of that was that Killebrew didn’t have a clear cut role and that could be his downfall. His coverage skills had fallen off, and he wasn’t fit for a full-time role at safety.

It wasn’t clear what role Killebrew would take on in 2018, but one thing was clear: it would be boom or bust, there wouldn’t be any in-between.

Actual Role in 2018:

2018 Stats: 16 games, 7 tackles
PFF Grade: 60.0

Unfortunately for Miles Killebrew, it was bust. While hopes were high in the preseason that there would be an adjustment after training camp video surfaced of Killebrew taking reps with linebackers, it didn’t pan out for him.

The vast majority of Killebrew’s playing time came on special teams, and while it was impactful, it’s not the type of contribution you expect from a fourth-round pick.

Outlook for 2019:

Contract Status: Under contract (one year left on rookie deal)

Things are looking about as bleak as ever for Killebrew heading into 2019. With no change in defensive scheme, there’s really no reason to believe he’ll get an opportunity to flourish in a new role. Likewise, we have no reason to believe his coverage skills have improved and he’s fit to play safety once more, which is a shame given how pretty a three-safety Lions defense would look.

This is likely the end of the road for Killebrew with the Lions. By cutting him this offseason, they only have to carry $144,641 in dead cap and can save $720,000. At this point the Lions can get his special teams contribution at a cheaper price tag, and with the label of fourth-round bust in Detroit, a change of scenery would almost certainly be beneficial for Killebrew.

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