To close out their 2022 NFL Draft class, the Detroit Lions selected Arizona State cornerback Chase Lucas. Lucas was the Lions’ sixth (of eight) picks on the defensive side of the ball for Detroit, but general manager Brad Holmes essentially said that was mostly a coincidence, though they knew they had more questions on the defensive side of the ball.
“We don’t go into it anchored and saying, ‘Hey, look man, we have to just draft defense,’” Holmes said Saturday night. “If that’s the best player, then that’s the best player. We had a sense that with all the things that we wanted to do, we had a sense that it might tilt a little toward defense.”
Lucas is a well-seasoned player, having started for five seasons—including one COVID-shortened year—for the Arizona State Sun Devils. At 25 years old, he’s already the third-oldest player in the Lions’ cornerback room, and you can see the benefit of that experience in Lucas’ game film. He reads the play in front of him well and has good ball skills—tallying 34 passes defended in his career. Last year, he was one of four college cornerbacks with over 250 snaps who didn’t allow a touchdown all season.
It’s not only his experience that makes him a smart football player, he’s also been around some smart football minds. Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards played over a decade of football as an NFL cornerback and nearly spent another decade as an NFL head coach. Marvin Lewis, who was the Bengals head coach for 16 years, also coaches at Arizona State.
For most of his career, Lucas was an outside cornerback, but due to his relatively small size—5-foot-11, 180 pounds—the Sun Devils slowly raised his snap percentage in the nickel his final couple seasons. He still played about 66 percent of his snaps on the outside, but his fit at the next level may be on the inside.
“I’m very, very comfortable (in the nickel),” Lucas told the Detroit media Saturday night. “I’ve been playing nickel for the last two years. The 2020 season only having four games, that was when I was really getting introduced to it because if one player went down, somebody had to move in and fill the spot. I feel very comfortable. I feel like my football IQ is a big thing, a big reason why I was drafted. I feel like I do a lot of studying and a lot of film work. I feel like that’s going to translate to the nickel spot and hopefully to the rest of my career.”
Lucas will have some stiff competition if nickel is his position. Though the Lions don’t have an entrenched starter there, both AJ Parker and Will Harris showed some promise there last season. Additionally, the Lions signed free agent Mike Hughes in free agency.
Like most seventh-rounders, Lucas’ best shot at the roster is through special teams. That may not be a problem for him, as he was a four-phase specialist for much of his college career.
As just about every pick the Lions have made over the past two years, Lucas’ personality certainly fits the culture Detroit is trying to build. A 2021 captain, here’s how Arizona State’s defensive backs coach Chris Hawkins described him last March.
“Chase Lucas is everything for this program, and I mean everything. He’s a kid that doesn’t miss practice. He’s a kid that takes every single rep, and he gets mad when you take him out on certain reps.”
“As a leader, he walked around yesterday with a paper in his hand showing everybody’s film minutes, and he literally got on everybody’s case who wasn’t watching film.”
Lucas has an uphill battle to make the roster in Detroit, but in just one year, we’ve seen defensive backs beat the odds and contribute on the Lions' roster. Competition is the name of the game in Detroit’s secondary, and Lucas will be up for the challenge.