Will Harris returns to Lions as a backup but must remain ready for combat
The Detroit Lions are all about giving players second chances.
It is why they signed linebacker Alex Anzalone to a three-year $18.875 deal earlier this week. And it is why they resigned cornerback Will Harris on Thursday.
Both were busts at one point. But Anzalone became the team’s leading tackler after a slow first-year with the Lions where his lack of speed was exposed. He came back on a second one-year prove it deal and excelled, although it was not always to Lions fans likings.
Harris bombed at safety after being drafted by Bob Quinn in the third round of the 2019 draft. However, this coaching staff moved him to the slot and it paid heavy dividends. Last season, Harris was rated the Lions best defensive back by Pro Football Focus.
He doesn’t need to be lead dog this season. The Lions added quality depth by signing Cam Sutton (three years, $33 million) from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Emmanuel Moseley (one year, $6 million) from the San Francisco 49ers.
Sutton and Mosely are the main cogs in the secondary, but Harris must remain on guard because Mosely is brittle and has yet to finish a season since 2019. The Lions secured him off the bargain rack because he tore his ACL last season in Week 5.
If he returns to his old form this is a great signing. If not, then the Lions gamble failed.
Sutton wants to be the leader of this group. At age 28 and entering his seventh year in the NFL, he has earned that right.
“It’s going to be just beyond the game, the production of the game, all those values of the game, but just really embracing that leadership role,” Sutton said. “I’ve been around plenty of great leaders just throughout the years, even in my own position group who have really molded my game, really molded how I carry myself as an individual. … And just really embracing that role.”
Sutton becomes the Lions version of a shutdown corner, although he is not viewed league wide as a shutdown. Mosely is the man who hits like a freight train and loves to play press coverage. That’s a lethal combination considering the Lions front seven should pressure quarterbacks even more this season.
Sutton is the Lions more versatile cornerback. Last season he played 655 snaps out wide and 185 in the slot. He spent most of his first four seasons in the slot, but moved into a starter’s role outside in 2021.
Last season Sutton allowed an anemic 44.4 percent completion rate, which tied for fourth lowest since 2016.
Mosely might hit too hard for his own good. He is a pile driver who throws every inch into his tackles. The issue is he is slight for an NF corner and his anvil tackles take a toll on his body.
It’s why Will Harris and Jeff Okudah must be ready for action at any moment.
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