The Detroit Lions will look to improve their pass defense as they hold open competition for their starting cornerbacks.
The Detroit Lions have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, and their linebackers also had a solid season.
However, their pass defense continued to be a weakness as it finished 23rd in the league. Their play at cornerback contributed to their woes. Chris Houston was released after the season, so the unit becomes even more questionable.
Darius Slay is expected to be the No. 1 corner for the Lions, and he is expected to make the next step in his second year. The Lions are counting on him to do so after he experienced rookie growing pains.
The No. 2 job is up for grabs, and the prime candidates to win the job are Rashean Mathis and Bill Bentley. Mathis has the edge on veteran experience, and he played solidly in his first season as a Lion. However, the former Jaguar is 33 years old and inevitably nearing the end of his career.
Bentley has spent his first two seasons in Detroit as a slot corner, and he is emerging as a breakout candidate who may eventually start in place of Mathis.
Cassius Vaughn and Nevin Lawson will be key backups for the Lions. Vaughn has experience playing with head coach Jim Caldwell from his days in Indianapolis, and Lawson offers upside after being taken in the fourth round of the draft.
The last roster spot will likely go to Aaron Hester since he has blazing speed, which he demonstrated by running 4.37 in the 40-yard dash before being drafted in 2013. Like Slay, he will look to make the jump in his second year.
The Lions’ cornerback unit will be reliant on young players stepping up and Rashean Mathis proving he still has juice left in the tank. Improving their pass defense will crucial for the Lions since they have to face the Packers and Bears twice a season.