- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
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From now until the draft, we’re going to look at each Detroit Lions position group and where things stand as offseason workouts begin this month.
The series continues at cornerback.
What the status of the position group is: A little bit unsettled. Slay is entering his third year and could end up as an emerging star for the Lions as he continues to get comfortable with being an NFL cornerback. Mathis had a standout 2014 and if he continues to defy the conventional NFL wisdom for players his age, the Lions once again have a strong set of starting corners.
After that? Questions everywhere. Bentley and Lawson are coming off season-ending injuries and are expected to compete for the starting slot spot. Wilson was signed as a veteran, but he’s better off as a depth slot corner than someone who can be a starter.
Who ends up being the backups on the outside? That’s the biggest question. Seisay was inconsistent in limited duty, and there is not a ton of evidence he’ll be able to make the second-year jump Slay had in 2014. Butler is another unknown.
Beyond the starters on the outside, it is a very questionable group right now.
What needs to happen: When it comes to Mathis, the Lions need to monitor his offseason work to ensure he gets to and through the season fairly healthy. He’s always been really smart about taking care of himself, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
The Lions need to draft a player, though, for Mathis to groom as an eventual replacement in 2016 or 2017 since that player is likely not on the roster as of now. While not as high of a priority as offensive or defensive line, this is the logical next step for the Lions when it comes to outside corners.
In the slot, Detroit needs to figure out if Lawson is ready to be the starter – he essentially had a game-and-a-half between Bentley’s injury and his own or if Bentley is still the guy on the inside entering the final year of his rookie deal.
Wilson feels like insurance there if one or both isn’t ready to go yet, but Detroit would probably want a younger guy in that spot.
Draft priority: Medium to high. The Lions are very likely to draft a cornerback this year.
Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis return as the probable starters, but the Lions almost assuredly will draft some depth at the position.