- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
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The questions about Flowers, a Pro Bowler last season, started almost immediately. The Lions still need help in the secondary, particularly at cornerback. On the surface, it would seem like a logical thing for Detroit to do and Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun reported the Lions are one of a multitude of teams that have shown interest in Flowers.
Flowers is a talent and still in his prime at age 28. The Lions, as of now, are going with a long-time veteran (Rashean Mathis) and a second-year pro with an inconsistent rookie year (Darius Slay) at cornerback. If this was the defense under the old coaching staff led by Gunther Cunningham and Jim Schwartz, going after Flowers would become an absolute priority and a no-brainer.
Here’s why it shouldn’t be now -- or at least should be carefully considered: Multiple reports explained part of the concern with Flowers was he didn’t really fit in the Kansas City scheme implemented last season. It was one heavily reliant on press coverage from the outside cornerbacks. Well, this could be a problem for the Lions with Flowers.
All indications – including from Slay himself – is that Detroit is going to be heavily aggressive this season and will likely use a lot of press coverage in man situations on the outside. This doesn’t mean Flowers wouldn’t be able to adapt to it, but signing him would be a risk in this scenario because of the money they would have to likely pay the former second-round pick.
His 2013 Pro Football Focus overall rating was minus-5.9, 87th among cornerbacks, although his plus-1.1 rush grade was sixth in the NFL last season according to PFF. Worse, his minus-9.8 grade on PFF in coverage was 96th among cornerbacks -- one slot ahead of Houston, the cornerback Detroit released and well behind Slay, Mathis, Bill Bentley and Cassius Vaughn.
So those would also be numbers for concern for Detroit.
Of course, if the Lions think they can work with Flowers and turn him into a dependable press-coverage corner on the outside, then the team should go after him. However, it would seem less than ideal for the Lions to take a chance on a player who has shown he might not fit the team's scheme.
The counterargument would be that right now, Detroit should take any talent it could get at cornerback considering the questions surrounding the the unit. And there is no doubt Flowers is talented. But when you look at his statistics, he had 68 tackles -- matching his career high -- but a career-low one interception and according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, a career-low nine passes defended. It is the first time in his career he has less than 10 passes defended in a season.
Considering Kansas City's scheme, that should be one concern in any pursuit of Flowers.
Another one, for Detroit's purposes, is his build. New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has said multiple times he would prefer taller cornerbacks with range. So far, the Lions have not gone after that, drafting 5-foot-9 Nevin Lawson in the fourth round of May's draft. Flowers is 5-foot-9, well below the 6-foot mark it was believed Austin had.
Adding another smaller cornerback won’t fix the size problem at the position. If the team wanted to move Flowers into the slot, they already have Bill Bentley, Don Carey and Lawson there and a move to add a slot corner doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Lions right now.
So while Flowers is talented and will likely get a look from Detroit, he may not be the best fit for the club.
It was almost too symmetrical on Friday. The Detroit Lions released Chris Houston at the same time the Kansas City Chiefs cut their talented cornerback who struggled last season, Brandon Flowers.