Devin Funchess: What the Lions are getting in their new TE

Devin Funchess: What the Detroit Lions are getting in their new tight end signed this week

There’s a new member of the Detroit Lions offense as OTAs wrap up in Allen Park this week. The Lions signed veteran tight end Devin Funchess on Tuesday.

Yes, tight end. The Lions themselves made the distinction in their media release announcing they’ve signed Funchess.

Michigan Wolverine fans probably recall Funchess as a wide receiver, the position he played in Ann Arbor from 2012-2014. He was also a wideout in his prior NFL stops with the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers, but that designation probably deserves an asterisk.

Funchess always played wide receiver with some of the skills that easily translate to tight end. At 6-4 and 215 listed pounds at Michigan, he had the size to play a hybrid role. College recruiting services ranked Funchess as a tight end coming out of Harrison High School in suburban Farmington Hills. His quickness off the line, or relative lack thereof, is much more akin to a tight end than the D.K. Metcalf or Mike Evans of the oversized WR world.

During the 2015 NFL draft process, many teams asked Funchess to work out as a tight end. He wound up being drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the second round, No. 41 overall.

Carolina kept Funchess at outside wide receiver and he had an interesting tenure with the Panthers, who listed him as a 232-pound wide receiver.

As a rookie, Funchess was a big part of the Panthers offense. While he caught just 31 passes for 473 yards and five touchdowns, he was second on the team in WR targets, catches and yards. That was the run-heavy Carolina team with Cam Newton in his MVP season that made the Super Bowl, where the primary passing target was tight end Greg Olsen.

The Panthers rarely asked him to play anything like a TE. In his most productive season, the 2017 campaign, Funchess aligned as an inline tight end exactly 11 times per Pro Football Focus. Nearly 80 percent of his snaps in his four seasons in Carolina came as an outside wide receiver, not in the slot or inline.

That 2017 campaign was an illuminating one for both Funchess and the Panthers. He led the team’s wide receivers in every statistical category (Christian McCaffrey dwarfed them all at RB) and caught more than 50 percent of his targets for the first time. But his inability to get separation and his pedestrian run-after-catch ability hamstrung the Panthers offense to some extent. He was gradually phased out of the starting lineup and down the WR rotation in 2018, with the team leaving him inactive in two key games down the stretch of a playoff push. The Panthers didn’t have any problem letting him hit free agency

Those qualities that weren’t dynamic enough at wide receiver should translate better at tight end for Funchess. Based on a recent Instagram post he made, the 28-year-old appears to have embraced fully bulking up to handle the more advanced physicality of playing tight end.

We have to rely on Instagram posts because we haven’t seen much of Funchess since he left Carolina for Indianapolis after the 2018 season. He broke his collarbone in Week 1 for the Colts and never played for Indy again. He bounced to the Packers for the 2020 season, but Funchess chose to opt out during the COVID-19 pandemic. Playing exclusively at outside WR in the 2021 offseason for the Packers, Funchess didn’t make it out of the preseason after suffering a hamstring injury.

The reinvention as a full-fledged tight end is a savvy gamble on the part of Funchess. The best attributes he showed as a wide receiver could help him find greater success playing TE: big target, enthusiastic (if not always effective) blocker, reliable route runner.

If he’s healthy, Funchess joins what figures to be a very active competition for the TE spots behind Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson in Detroit. He’ll compete with veteran blocker Garrett Griffin and young receiving-oriented TEs in second-year players Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra, as well as fifth-round rookie James Mitchell.

 

John Cominsky: What the Lions are getting in their new DE

John Cominsky: What the Lions are getting in their new defensive end claimed off waivers from the Falcons this week

There is a new defensive lineman in Detroit with the Lions claiming John Cominsky off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday. It’s a calculated acquisition to find a gem that just didn’t fit with the changes in Atlanta. Can he fit in Detroit?

Cominsky was a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft after an impressive finish to his career at Charleston, a D-II school in West Virginia. A former option QB in high school in Northeast Ohio, Cominsky really bulked up and emerged as a viable NFL prospect with a stellar senior season that saw him bag 16.5 TFLs, three sacks and two forced fumbles for the Golden Eagles.

Drafted by the Falcons as a 285-pound end for their 3-4 defense, Cominsky didn’t have an easy positional fit. While he’s a very impressive athlete in terms of quickness and movement skills for his size, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound speed-based defensive end is a tough transition from D-II to the NFL. He tested significantly better at the 2019 combine than he ever translated to the field for the Falcons.

The prior Falcons regime, headed by GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn, viewed him as a player who could start at base DE in the 4-3 scheme and kick inside on pass-rush downs. He showed some progress after not playing much as a rookie.

Cominsky played quite a bit more in 2020 and demonstrated some interior pass-rushing ability. His length and quick feet were better served inside, though he was almost exclusively a pass-rush specialist at DT.

The Falcons changed regimes and schemes for 2021, and the move did not portend well for Cominsky. He wasn’t stout enough as a 3-4 DE or lithe or savvy enough to play as an OLB in the odd-man front. As a result, he barely played. That greatly contributed to his release from Atlanta.

Here’s the skinny from Falcons Wire editor Matt Urben:

Cominsky was drafted by previous Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. While playing for former head coach Dan Quinn — who ran more of an attacking 4-3 scheme — Cominsky developed into a solid rotational defensive end who could also slide inside on pass-rushing downs. In 2020, Cominsky played 44 percent of the team’s defensive snaps and racked up 21 pressures, however, the Falcons would fire both Quinn and Dimitroff after an 0-5 start that year. Atlanta hired Dean Pees as DC in 2021, but Comsinky just wasn’t a great fit in that 3-4 base defense.
The former Charleston standout played in just four games last season.

While his release wasn’t a total surprise, I completely understand why the Lions claimed him. Cominsky’s got a good motor and fits Detroit’s scrappy mentality. And more importantly, he’s a much better fit in Aaron Glenn’s defense where he can provide quality reps at both DE and DT.

I interviewed Cominsky at the 2019 Senior Bowl and got a chance to watch quite a bit of his Charleston tape after it became clear the Matt Patricia-era Lions had considerable interest in Cominsky. Here are my abridged notes from prior to the 2019 NFL draft on Cominsky:

  • Smart vs. the run, good tackling power
  • Very quick feet and good balance for a taller guy
  • Lacks power, especially in the lower body
  • No real sense of how to counter blocking or attack as a pass rusher on the outside
  •  Bad tendency to get straight up after engagement with blocker

One notable thing about Cominsky in Atlanta: he played at 275 pounds, down from his top college weight. For an interior player in Detroit’s new-look 4-man front, that’s very light. He projects to compete with Detroit’s recent second-round picks, Levi Onwuzurike (2021) and Josh Paschal (2022) for reps as a base end who can also play inside. Romeo Okwara and Michael Brockers are veterans in that role, too. If Cominsky bulks back up and adds functional lower-body strength, he could find a role playing more as a straight 3-tech DT in Detroit. He did not show that sort of ability in Atlanta, however.

It will take more pass-rushing oomph from Cominsky to crack the Lions lineup, but he does have developmental potential even after three NFL seasons. At minimum, he’s got a better chance to stick around than the man he replaced on the 90-man roster, kicker Aldrick Rosas.

Mike Hughes: What the Lions are getting in their new CB

Breaking down where free agent CB Mike Hughes fits into the Lions secondary

When the Detroit Lions signed free agent cornerback Mike Hughes, they added a versatile and young new member to the secondary. Signed for one year and up to $3.5 million (contract details are not immediately available), Hughes comes to Detroit after one season in Kansas City.

What are the Lions getting in Hughes?

He’s something of a familiar face and name for Lions fans. Hughes was a first-round pick (No. 30 overall) by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2018 NFL draft.

It didn’t go well for Hughes in Minnesota. After earning the slot CB role under defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer — notorious for not handing jobs to rookies — Hughes suffered a nasty knee injury in Week 6 while returning a kickoff. The recovery process did not go as swiftly as hoped and impacted his speed.

The Hughes who played in the slot in 2019 and 2020 in Minnesota looked a step slower and less explosive in breaking on the ball than the early rookie or the standout at Central Florida in college. Another serious injury derailed 2020 after just four games, this time a broken bone in his neck.

Now he was damaged goods. Never the fastest CB to begin with (a 4.53 40-yard dash at the 2018 combine), Hughes couldn’t get back his top gear and had a neck injury to worry about as well. His coverage in short-range situations remained pretty good, but the downfield routes and chasing receivers on drags and posts proved troublesome. Hughes was never a solid, sturdy tackler either.

Minnesota gave up on Hughes, trading him to Kansas City for a 6th-round pick swap and a 2022 seventh-round pick. It proved to be a worthwhile trade for the Chiefs.

Hughes was healthy in 2021 and the Chiefs had a better vision of how to use him. Instead of flipping him between the slot and playing outside like the Vikings did near the end of his time there, Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo kept him almost exclusively outside in their blitz-heavy base 4-2-5 defense.

Hughes lacks ideal size on the outside, but he doesn’t mind being physical. He’s solid with his jam in man coverage and has quick enough feet to handle sharp-breaking routes. The Chiefs played a lot of 4-1-6 (dime) and he stayed outside in a defense designed to funnel to the middle of the field.

Two things stood out in watching Hughes in 2021: his tackling was better and his aggression at attacking the ball looked like the prospect at UCF instead of the guy the Vikings bailed on. He still needs help with the faster wideouts (see the Buffalo and Cincinnati games) and his long speed is never going to be an asset. He’s also shown struggles with quick-footed receivers in off-man coverage. Hughes is at his best when he can help control the release instead of reacting to it. Fans who watched the AFC divisional round game against the Bills saw this firsthand.

The playmaking flair Hughes showed during the season was a welcome bonus. He earned the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his Week 14 game against the Raiders where he returned a fumble for a touchdown, forced two other fumbles and logged nine tackles.

In Detroit, Hughes should figure into the starting mix in the Lions’ base 4-2-5 as an outside CB. If 2021 rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu kicks inside to the slot, Hughes will battle oft-injured Jeff Okudah for the starting outside CB job opposite Amani Oruwariye. Jerry Jacobs factors into the mix after his recovery from knee surgery too, with the potential to bump Okudah inside as well. Hughes’ own path can help with Okudah, who is following a similar career arc through his first two seasons.

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Garrett Griffin: What the Lions are getting in their new TE

The Lions signed former Saints TE Garrett Griffin. What are they getting in their free agent tight end?

It’s been a selective offseason in free agency for the Detroit Lions. One of the two (so far) outside free agents signed by GM Brad Holmes is tight end Garrett Griffin, formerly of the New Orleans Saints.

The Lions signed Griffin to compete to be the primary blocking tight end. That’s been his primary role in his first five NFL years, all spent with the Saints.

What are the Lions getting in Griffin?

Griffin has played in 20 games since joining the Saints as an undrafted free agent from Air Force back in the 2017 season. He’s coming off his most extensive usage in the 2021 campaign, where he played 235 offensive snaps and started six games.

Griffin was used by the Saints almost exclusively as an inline blocking tight end. He does have decent hands, however; the 28-year-old caught all four passes thrown his way, netting 39 yards. All were of the dump-off and short-range variety.

Guys with that meager of production don’t last in the NFL for five years unless they can block. That’s where Griffin earns his money and why he held appeal for Detroit. He’s an adept lead blocker in the run game, good at engaging targets at the second level and creating a seal for the RB to read.

In my limited film study (4 games from 2021), I liked Griffin as a run blocker. He’s smart and quick, and he sustains the block well after initial contact. Griffin isn’t nearly as good as a pass protector, unfortunately. He overcommits on the first move and doesn’t have the athleticism to recover if he doesn’t win right away.

He does have some special teams experience and can also work out of the backfield as an H-back type of tight end. His route running consists of nothing more than safety valve work.

It’s a low-cost signing for Detroit that adds competition to a tight end room that is wide open outside of Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson. Signing Griffin doesn’t eliminate any potential for the Lions to select a tight end in the later portion of the 2022 NFL draft. He figures to compete with Jared Pinkney, Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra and Matt Sokol for depth at TE.

Brady Breeze: What the Lions are getting in their new safety

Scouting report on new Lions rookie S Brady Breeze, who the team claimed off waivers from the Titans on Monday

There is a new safety in Detroit after the Lions claimed Brady Breeze off waivers from the Tennessee Titans this week. Breeze joins the Lions after being waived by the Titans in the middle of his rookie season having played sparingly in Nashville.

What the are Lions getting in Breeze?

Aside from the cool alliterative name, Breeze brings some youthful promise to the Lions. He was a sixth-round draft pick out of Oregon in the 2021 NFL draft, a former teammate of Lions first-rounder Penei Sewell.

Like Sewell, Breeze opted out of the 2020 college season for the Ducks. His last college game was a great one, however. Breeze earned the Rose Bowl MVP against Wisconsin for his 11-tackle performance that also included a forced fumble and recovery for a touchdown. It was his third defensive score of the season, showing an opportunistic bent to his game.

The effort and playing style from Breeze is one of a kneecap biter. He goes maximum effort on every snap and doesn’t shy away from contact or hitting. The instincts in the run game are readily evident. Breeze is good at attacking downhill from a high safety spot, especially against interior runs. He’s very adept at filling the proper hole at the right time.

He will hit in coverage and Breeze has some pop behind his pads. He plays bigger than his 6-foot, 196-pound frame would suggest. That style of play and physicality is also present in special teams duty. Breeze played exclusively on punt and kick teams with the Titans. Even in the preseason, Breeze couldn’t get on the field on defense.

In coverage, it’s understandable why the Titans let him go. Even at Oregon, the speed of the passing game often moved a little too fast for Breeze. He’s an average overall athlete but doesn’t have great play speed or closing burst. The chase-down speed just isn’t there.

One area where he really struggled in college was in changing directions on the fly. If his hips turned outside and he had to recover inside, Breeze was in a lot of trouble.

In Detroit, expect him to start out playing the same as he did with the Titans: special teams. If he can’t shoehorn his way into the coverage and return units quickly, Breeze might not be in Detroit for long. It’s a real stretch to see the coverage issues and limited on-field play speed affording Breeze much of a chance to play on defense, even in the Lions’ injury-ravaged secondary.

Josh Reynolds: Rams and Titans reporters weigh in on what the Lions are getting in their new WR

Scouting report on Reynolds from guys who’ve covered him in other NFL cities and also from film review

It took a few months longer than many expected, but the Detroit Lions now have wide receiver Josh Reynolds on the roster. The Lions claimed Reynolds off waivers from the Tennessee Titans.

Reynolds is more well-known for his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. He was a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M in the 2017 NFL draft and developed into a reliable receiving option for Jared Goff. Because Lions GM Brad Holmes was the Rams’ scouting director when they drafted Reynolds, ample speculation about Reynolds joining the WR-needy Lions sprung up almost immediately.

Here’s what Erik Schlitt wrote here at Lions Wire back before the onset of free agency last winter,

We at Lions Wire were big fans of Reynolds in the 2017 draft and had hoped the Lions would consider him. Instead, they drafted Kenny Golladay in the third round and Reynolds landed with the Rams in the fourth, 21 picks later.

Reynolds wins with size, timing, and vertical speed to stretch a defense. He plays in the slot roughly 25-percent of his snaps, and his ability to control his body at full speed helps him win in a variety of ways.

It didn’t work out in Tennessee, where Reynolds signed after overtures from the Lions. But now the 6-foot-3, 195-pound wideout gets a chance to prove himself in Detroit.

What are the Lions getting in Reynolds? I asked a few team beat reporters who have covered the 26-year-old in either Los Angeles or Tennessee for their thoughts on Reynolds.

First up is Turron Davenport, the Titans’ beat reporter for ESPN and one of the sharpest guys in the business.

The Lions are getting a smooth, versatile receiver that can play X,Z or on the slot. Reynolds is a capable deep threat but wasn’t used in that manner with the Rams. He hoped that opportunity would materialize for him with Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee but an Achilles and shoulder inury kept him from reaching his potential during training camp. Once Reynolds was healthy he found himself buried on the depth chart behind Marcus Johnson l, Chester Rogers and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

Next comes this from Jake Ellenbogen of Downtown Rams and The Game Day NFL,

The Lions are getting a tall and lanky receiver that has a chance to take over as the number one wideout in Detroit. The big reason is his connection with Jared Goff. He trusts him and while Reynolds isn’t the biggest name ever, he can certainly play. He filled in when Kupp, Cooks and Woods needed him to. He needs to improve the timing of his jumps in 50/50 ball situations but he can be used as a big slot or on the outside. I love the fit in Detroit with Goff and I think Reynolds can reinvent himself in the second half of this season. Familiarity is key and GM Brad Holmes was very high on Reynolds when the Rams drafted him.

Finally, Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire offered up a fair evaluation of Reynolds and how he can help Detroit,

Reynolds isn’t the fastest receiver, but he’s a long strider who can stretch the field when given the chance. The biggest issue is he’s not physical at the catch point and doesn’t win enough in jump-ball situations for a player his size. He plays much smaller than his frame, which is admittedly frustrating because he has the combination of size and speed to be a starting receiver in the NFL.

When he was a starter with the Rams, he didn’t run deep routes very often but when he did, Jared Goff was inaccurate and didn’t always give him a chance to make a play. I still think he can succeed as an outside receiver, he just needs to play with better physicality and with stronger hands.

What DaSilva said resonates with the crash-course film review on Reynolds in his best Rams season. In 2020, Goff and Reynolds hooked up 52 times on 81 targets for 618 yards and two TDs. Reynolds lined up at all three WR spots almost equally, but he was better outside than in the slot. The relative weakness on contested catches was readily apparent, unfortunately. But he does have speed to separate after the initial break and he’s precise in his routes.

Expect to see Reynolds earn ample playing time quickly for the Lions, who sport one of the NFL’s most inefficient passing attacks through nine weeks.

Mark Gilbert: What the Lions are getting in their new CB

Scouting report and breakdown of new Detroit Lions cornerback Mark Gilbert

The Detroit Lions have added another cornerback to the active 53-man roster. On Tuesday, the Lions signed CB Mark Gilbert off the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad.

Gilbert is an undrafted rookie who played collegiately at Duke. He is a long, slender outside corner at 6-0 and 188 pounds. He is probably best known for being the cousin of longtime NFL Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis.

In Pittsburgh, he played extensively in the preseason. He logged a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 61.8 in 57 coverage snaps, allowing four completions on six targets. He got his hands on two passes, both in the Hall of Fame game against Dallas.

When he was on the field in college, Gilbert showed outstanding ball skills. He bagged six interceptions and was second in the ACC with 15 additional PDs in 2017. His ability to highpoint the ball and win contested catches stood out. Then came a devastating hip injury.

Gilbert played just two games in 2018 and missed all of 2019 after surgery. He rebounded back in 2020 but still played in just two games before opting out, logging one INT (against Boston College) and seven total tackles. He’s played in just four college football games and four NFL preseason games (Pittsburgh had the extra Hall of Fame game) since his breakout 2017 campaign.

Gilbert wore No. 17 for the Steelers but donned No. 28 while at Duke.

Eric Banks: What the Lions are getting in their new DT

Breaking down new Detroit Lions defensive lineman Eric Banks, claimed off waivers from the Chargers

The Detroit Lions made a move to bolster the defensive line on Friday. The Lions placed a successful waiver claim on defensive tackle Eric Banks, who was waived by the Los Angeles Chargers this week.

What are the Lions getting in Banks?

Banks is in his second NFL season. He started out with the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent out of Texas-San Antonio. Banks, all 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds of him, spent most of his rookie campaign on the Rams’ practice squad.

He was with the Rams in the preseason in 2021 and even bagged a great sack in their matchup against the Raiders. Banks was cut in the final roster cutdowns and moved to the other side of SoFi Stadium with the Chargers.

He played in each of the first three games for the Chargers, logging 36 total defensive snaps as a rotational reserve. Banks registered one tackle. The Chargers had a player returning from I.R. and decided to let Banks go.

Banks wins with length and the ability to get himself narrow between the tackles. He’s got very long arms and uses a nice jab to keep his length as an asset. He’s athletic enough that he played as a QB in high school, and his feet and agility reflect it.

There isn’t a lot of lower-body power to Banks game. He doesn’t anchor well in the run game, getting too upright and appearing to try and see over the block to locate the ball. Banks does have some upper-body power and torques his shoulders well, which in combination with his long arms makes him difficult to control if he wins the initial combat.

During his time at UTSA, Banks led the nation in forced fumbles. He uses the length and a relentless effort to extricate the ball very well on sacks but also on run plays where the back tries to scoot past him.

He joins a crowded Lions defensive front that also returned DE Jashon Cornell from suspension this week. Banks projects to play as a DE in Aaron Glenn’s scheme, fluctuating between the 4 and 6 techniques. He is a familiar face for GM Brad Holmes, who led the Rams scouting department when that team signed Banks.

 

Trinity Benson: What the Lions are getting in their new wide receiver

A scouting report on new Lions WR Trinity Benson from those who covered him with the Denver Broncos

The Detroit Lions made a trade for some wide receiving help on Tuesday. Detroit sent two late-round picks to Denver for young wideout Trinity Benson and a late-round pick in return.

Benson is something of an unknown commodity. An undrafted free agent from D-II East Central in Oklahoma in 2019, he’s been on the Broncos practice squads in the last two seasons. The 6-foot, 180-pounder is coming off a stellar preseason where he caught all eight passes thrown his way for 80 yards and two TDs, both of which came in their opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

Because I haven’t seen Benson play beyond highlights, I turned to folks who have for the skinny on the new Lions wideout.  I called upon some Denver media contacts to offer up their more informed thoughts on Benson.

From Brett Kane of Altitude Sports,

Benson capitalized on his opportunities all throughout camp. He would have made the roster had it not been for how stacked Denver was at WR. He’s got way more speed than given credit for, good hands. Creating separation off the LOS could be an issue because he’s not that big/physical. He’s mentioned multiple times that he has a “chip on his shoulder” because he went to a DII school and wants to prove he can play with the big boys—-basically that Dan Campbell grinder mentality he loves. He’s not going to make this WR room something great in Detroit, but he should get be able to be a consistent contributor.

Ben Allbright from KOA Radio, the flagship station for Broncos coverage, offered this assessment,

Had an awesome camp. Fast, great athlete. Teammates love him.

More deep threat than anything, but really worked the mid routes well this camp.

Erick Trickel of Mile High Huddle also liked what he saw in training camp and preseason from Benson,

Benson has good speed and pacing with his routes to challenge every level of the field. In his rookie year, there seemed to be some issues with drops, but that wasn’t the case last year in camp or this year. He quickly became the reliable target no matter who was in at quarterback and consistently gave Broncos DBs problems in practice.

Finally, my colleague Jon Heath of Broncos Wire offered his insight that includes potential return-man duties for Benson,

After joining the Broncos as an undrafted free agent out of East Central University in 2019, Trinity Benson spent two years on the team’s practice squad before emerging as a true contender for a spot on the 53-man roster this summer. Benson caught two touchdown passes in the team’s first preseason game and he looked dynamic as a returner. Denver has a crowded wide receiver room, though, one that’s headlined by Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler. The Broncos also have a productive returner in Diontae Spencer (a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019), so there just wasn’t room for Benson on the final 53. Benson became a fan favorite in Denver this summer and he’ll now get a chance to endear himself to fans in Detroit, presumably as the team’s primary returner.

Beyond what the Denver sources graciously offered, here are a couple of social media posts on Benson from respectable sources that help flesh out what the Lions are getting:

We’ll get our first look at Benson in Lions practice later this week. The team is off on Tuesday.

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Nickell Robey-Coleman: What the Lions are getting in their new CB

Scouting report on new Lions CB Nickell Robey-Coleman

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There is a new cornerback in Detroit, one familiar to both fans and to defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant. The Lions signed veteran Nickell Robey-Coleman on Monday.

What are the Lions getting in Robey-Coleman?

The 29-year-old comes to Detroit after one year with the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams prior to his stint in Philadelphia, playing under Pleasant, and four years before that with the Buffalo Bills.

Robey-Coleman had his best years in Los Angeles while almost exclusively playing inside in the slot. At 5-foot-8, it’s a natural fit for the USC product.

He’s best described as short-not-small as a corner. Robey-Coleman doesn’t have length or a lot of bulk at 180 pounds, but he’s not shy about being physical or attacking the ball. His willingness to throw his body around and hit in both the run and pass defense.

Pleasant knew how to utilize that well with the Rams. Robey-Coleman deployed more in Cover-6, meaning he dropped in the zone to keep the play in front of him by design. It allowed him to keep his eyes on the quarterback and use his quick acceleration to break on the ball.

Robey-Coleman played more man defense in Philadelphia, but also had less of an effective pass rush to help him out. It did not work well with the Eagles. Most notably, his tackling really fell off; Robey-Coleman missed 12 tackles and recorded just 44, a terrible ratio. He’s always had some issues with being more of a hitter than a wrapper as a tackler, but it got quite bad in 2020.

He’s not a lockdown type of cornerback in coverage. Robey-Coleman can mirror routes fairly well, but he’s better at closing on the receiver with the ball in the air and quickly terminating the play. He has seven career interceptions, none since 2018, and a pass defended rate of eight percent (PDs vs. targets), which is indicative of a corner that does not make a lot of plays on the ball.

The familiarity with Pleasant and with playing in front of a split safety look are assets Robey-Coleman can lean on to quickly stake a claim in the Lions’ unsettled secondary. Don’t be surprised if Robey-Coleman winds up starting in the slot at some point in 2021 as long as the tackling and positional responsibility awareness are on point.