With injuries mounting in the 2014 season and stud corner Jimmy Smith sidelined for the season, there was an opportunity for a young corner to step up opposite Lardarius Webb. Players like Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks hadn't gotten the job done, Danny Gorrer and Asa Jackson were also injured, so the front office brought in players like Rashaan Melvin and Chris Greenwood to compete with practice squad corner Tramain Jacobs and converted safety Anthony Levine.
Ultimately the player who saw the field and produced was 6"2 corner Rashaan Melvin, who was picked up off the Dolphins practice squad. He produced in his short time with the Ravens, putting up a 1.9 grade from PFF in the regular season before being victimized by Hall of Fame Quarterback Tom Brady in the playoffs, only the 5th start of his career. But in his limited time, he showed sure tackling, the ability to jam well, and some solid ball skills. This in my opinion locks him into the #4 Cornerback slot on our 2015 roster.
With Jimmy Smith back from injury, Lardarius Webb at full health, and newly signed Maryland native and slot corner extraordinaire Kyle Arrington in the fold, this gives the team a solid complement of players who can play outside and inside. All that is left is to fill out the depth chart.
Here are the other corners under contract:
Great size and speed, but extremely raw coming out of a small school. Walker likely makes the roster because we rarely give up on draft picks this high. So barring injury, he will likely play on special teams units and serve as very deep depth at corner.
Chris Greenwood was a very promising CB who the Lions took in the 5th round, but he got injured and the timing of his return did not bode well for him. He looked good in his limited opportunities though. In the end, he was cut and after bouncing around a little, the Ravens snatched him up last year.
After the one game he got major snaps, this is what coordinator Gunther Cunningham had to say about him:
Well overall, losing the game took a lot out of all of us, but my high point was Chris Greenwood," Cunningham told Detroitlions.com.
Greenwood was forced into action in the second quarter when Bentley, who started for Houston, suffered a concussion. Greenwood, 24, made his NFL debut just a week prior against Baltimore, playing five special teams snaps. He played 43 snaps at cornerback last week vs. Giants.
"There were a lot of questions about Chris Greenwood, but I have always believed in him," Cunningham said. "He reminds me a lot of the guys I used to have. He is tall, he’s long, he’s fast, and he is really smart."
Greenwood (6-1, 195), missed his entire rookie season because of abdominal injury. He missed a good portion of training camp this year because of a hamstring injury. As a result, the Lions were forced to cut their fifth-round pick in 2012 during the final cuts of training camp this year, but he was signed back to the practice squad on Sept. 1.
He was promoted to the Lions active roster Dec. 7 when
Darius Slaysuffered a knee injury and saw his first real extensive playing time last week. He finished with four tackles.
"He went out there and made some outstanding tackles, and their best receiver tried to beat him on a lot of go routes, not a lot but a good hand full," Cunningham said.
Asa was a mid round pick, but unfortunately he has not been able to overcome suspensions and injuries to be productive. Last year was his best opportunity yet, but he did not look very good sandwiched between his 2 injuries. However, he is an experienced returner who looked very good last pre-season. This gives him a much better shot at making the roster as the primary returner and a depth corner.
Jacobs lasted the whole year on our practice squad, but despite major issues at CB, never saw the field. I think that is enough of an indictment of his ability or our confidence in him that he doesn't make the roster while it is this deep.
Julian Wilson is now on our IR with a broken leg, and Anthony Levine is being converted back to a Safety.
I expect Asa Jackson to make the roster primarily as a returner, and Walker as a development prospect. But Chris Greenwood could make things really interesting, as he has a very high ceiling, and big things were expected for him when he got drafted. He could end up forcing us to make a tough decision, either carrying 7 CB's to start, or moving Walker to IR or cutting him.