Everyone seems to say we need to add two or even three better defensive backs, another DT, and perhaps one or two better linebackers. Yet, if this is the case, where do the roster spots come from? Re-signing our own free agents seems like a priority, yet we will need roster spots to add new draft picks and perhaps one or two outside free agents.
I thought I'd rank our players by position and review some thoughts:
CB - who's #1 and so on? What other considerations are there as to whether you should or shouldn't retain the player?
#1 Jeff Okudah - He probably has to be considered the star of the show, but there was some fall off at the end of the year and he was benched. He also has a huge price tag - $10.7M for 2023. Does his play warrant that kind of money? He's in the final year of his rookie contract, but he has an option year you can elect - for even more money. What makes sense to do? Will he be the shut down corner we all have dreamed of for so long, or fall off and be a millstone? Or, would the money and roster spot be better taken by a top draft pick? I think there's a lot of mulling over going on about this.
#2 Jerry Jacobs - He is a low priced young player that seems likely to be considered invaluable to the team. I don't think there is any question you retain him, but why was he an undrafted free agent rookie? Is there some shortcoming we are overlooking as fans? Or, is he a stud and should be signed to a longer term deal now, rather than risk waiting until later?
#3 Will Harris - Is he #3 or #4? His versatility, and capability seems to enhance his value. He hasn't proven to have the top notch ball hawking skills I think his college profile indicated, but maybe he's just coming into his own as his rookie deal expires. Given he can play so many different roles for the team, it would be hard not to argue the need to re-sign him and keep him as a piece of the unit.
#4 Mike Hughes - Some have said he ended the season as the best overall outside corner on the team. He is a former first-round draft pick so he has some pedigree that bodes well in terms of greater potential. Will he re-sign though for a reasonable salary? Was he easy to coach? Do the coaches really trust him? If he's not in the top 3 is there where a star draft pick should be expected to "at least" move into the scheme of the group?
#5 Amani Oruwariye - Up until this year he was the best of the group. He was a solid ball hawk, and was being looked to become the top corner. What happened? Is the potential still there? Is he going to re-sign for a reasonable salary, or be offered a lot more to go elsewhere? Or, is his career coming to a close? It's hard to bring him back this far down the depth chart, yet he had been so good prior to this year. It's a hard call. It might work out he re-signs for a modest amount and works to re-prove his worth. Still, do you have room on the roster if you draft a player in the first or second round to bolster this position?
#6 Chase Lucas - I don't really know much about him. He was a late round draft pick last year that barely played. Yet, he's under contract again and therefore automatically is back to compete for a role.
#7 Bobby Price - He ended the year injured, but was considered a special teams star when healthy. Does he have more potential to play on defense? Is his spot on the roster going to be very hard to come by as more talent is added? Again it seems likely he is retained to compete and assure that we have enough players, but can he be more?
#8 Khalil Dorsey - A practice squad addition that has played regular season games elsewhere. Does he have more to offer than most fans can appreciate?
#9 A J Parker - He went from starting slot cover corner to practice squad reserve. I'm confused what to think about him.
#10 Jarren Williams - Another late season addition that may or may not still be on the active 90 man roster. He was primarily used, when activated to the 53-man roster, as a special team player.
There's a lot to think about here. Money. Potential. Role. Fit. If we do bring in two top picks to play this position, how far up the ranking tree do the changes occur? Does Okudah get an option, or play out to determine if he stays or should go?
My favorite prospects according to my review are:
#1 Devon Witherspoon - PFF ranks him just 65th overall - so I may be fooled by how good his performance seems.
#2 Christian Gonzalez - PFF ranks him 32nd overall - so again I may be over-valuing him.
#3 Cam Smith - PFF ranks him 12th overall - he is obviously good, but I have some reservations.
#4 Kelee Ringo - PFF ranks him 15th overall - again I have reservations about his production, but he's also near the top of my list.
#5 Brian Branch - PFF ranks him 16th overall - I do really like his adaptability and, or flexibility to play multiple roles.
#6 Emmanuel Forbes - PFF ranks him 58th - I find his man-to-man skills extremely appealing.
#7 Jaylon Jones - PFF ranks him 20th - He is intriguing but I wonder if he's been test enough.
#8 Joey Porter - PFF ranks him 34th overall - He has been an exceptional performer; I may need to consider him higher on my list.
#9 Brandon Joseph - PFF ranks him 81st - I like his intelligence and believe he offers more than what others see.
#10 Garrett Williams - PFF ranks him 38th overall - Another interesting quality corner.
There are several other more lowly ranked defensive backs that I find intriguing: DJ Turner, Riley Moss, Tyrique Stevenson, and Kris Abrams-Draine. They are all candidates in the draft for the Lions. There are probably several others. In many ways each would see to likely fit in the team's own position group from being #1 to perhaps no lower than #7.