Cornerback was supposed to be a strength for the Lions in 2019. Maybe not the biggest strength in the world, but a strength nonetheless. Early on, it looked the Lions may have finally gotten it together in the secondary. The Lions corners were lethal in the first few weeks of the season.
Remember how great it was to see Darius Slay doing his thing while Rashaan Melvin looked like a great signing and Justin Coleman looked like an even better signing? Those were the days. But those days went away pretty quick. Now it looks like the Lions are going to be in the market for more help in the secondary next month.
This is a position that I would honestly not be shocked to see the Lions front office ignore in free agency. Sure, they tried their hardest to get Chris Harris and the trade deadline, and they could probably try again in March, but I feel like this is something they’ll address in the draft. Especially since Amani Oruwariye looked really good down the stretch.
But if they do decide to go for a corner in the open market, these four guys are the guys they need to avoid.
There’s some history here. Talib obviously played under head coach Matt Patricia for two years in New England and with new Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin for a year in Denver. That’s really the only reason I think the Lions would think about taking a look. If you look at the Lions’ track record of signing former Patriots, you’ll understand my concern.
But the Lions have to take a pass here. Talib’s career as one of the better corners in the league is over. That’s why the Rams sent him and a fifth-round pick to Miami last season in exchange for a seventh=round pick. When you look at that trade it almost looks like the Rams had to bribe Miami to take Talib from them.
Talib never wound up playing a game for the Dolphins due to injury. But before he went down, he graded out at 55.4 by PFF for his five games with the Rams in 2019 prior to the trade.
Couple that with the fact that he’s 33, and you have all the reasons you need for the Lions to avoid him.
There was a time not long ago when Ronald Darby looked like he was going to be a pretty good corner in the NFL. He came out of the gate big for the Buffalo Bills his rookie year and snatched two interceptions and batted down 21 passes. That was enough for the Pro Football Writers of America to put him on their All-Rookie Team that season.
He was then traded to the Eagles for a hefty haul and it was believed that he would only ascend from there. But he didn’t. The former second-round pick dealt with a flurry of injuries and missed 20 games in his three years there.
Despite some instance where Darby looked like he would go back to being the player he was in Buffalo, Darby never got there. In 2019, he played the most games he had played in Philadelphia with 11, but his PFF grade was just 45.9. There may be some who want the Lions to get Darby, but those some will regret it.
I fully expect to get plenty of push back here. I fully get it, too. To be honest, I wouldn’t be upset if it happened either. Waynes is my exception this week. But, still, the Lions should look the other way here.
My reasoning is based on the idea that Waynes is just too inconsistent. Last season, he had a fine year. He graded out at 65.1 on PFF, and he had 58 tackles. But on the flip side of that, he only had one interception and defended just eight passes.
The Vikings apparently felt the same way around the trade deadline when they were reportedly trying to trade him. I spoke with The Athletic Minnesota’s Arif Hasan about Waynes and even his feelings on Waynes were ho-hum. He even mentioned the idea of him being overpaid too.
“I think he’ll be overpaid, but not awful. There’s a risk he’s a peculiar system fit outside of (Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer) though. I could see him working exclusively outside in C3/C4. So I don’t think he’s a hard no but I don’t think he’s super wise as a choice.”
I think the biggest issue here is that Waynes is good and all, but he’s not good enough, and the Lions would just wind up overpaying a guy that, as Arif mentioned, may just be a system guy.
Just like last week when I ended part one with the Lions parting ways with A’Shawn Robinson, here we are with the Lions parting ways with another Lions in Melvin.
Look, they gave it a year. It didn’t work out. Melvin started the season out pretty well, but he went downhill from there. Melvin became a liability down the stretch and finished the year with a PFF grade of 55.4. He was also one of the Lions who had zero interceptions on the year.
At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back. He’ll be cheap and he knows the scheme. Still, the Lions lose nothing here by simply saying, “Thank you for your time and see ya later.”
With the aforementioned rise of Oruwariye and the possibility of drafting Jeff Okudah with the third pick, there’s just really no point in it.