ESPN: Lions' Amani Oruwariye, ex-UM stars Chase Winovich, David Long poised for breakouts
The Detroit Lions' secondary has gone through a major makeover this offseason, from the trade of Darius Slay to the selection of Jeff Okudah in the NFL Draft.
Add to the mix Desmond Trufant (free agency) and Duron Harmon (trade), and there's plenty of new faces in the defensive backfield.
However, it's a holdover who could provide a breakout season for the Lions in 2020, according to ESPN.
Second-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye landed on ESPN's list of top prospects who could break out in 2020, which was posted Thursday. Oruwariye checks in on the Top 25 at No. 18, while a pair of former Michigan standouts also made the cut: New England edge rusher Chase Winovich is No. 5, and Los Angeles Rams cornerback David Long is No. 16.
A fifth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, Oruwariye played in nine games as a rookie, collecting a pair of interceptions and three passes defensed.
"Oruwariye has true outside size at 6-2, 205 pounds and showed proficient speed with a 4.47 40-yard dash at the (NFL) combine, writes Rivers McCown, an ESPN contributor. "Oruwariye's combine performance was not by any means noteworthy or dominant, but corners that size are valued as long as they have proficient athleticism and can jam, which Oruwariye demonstrated he could at Penn State."
Oruwariye figures to be in a crowded backfield with the additions of Trufant and the rookie Okudah, as well as the return of Justin Coleman, but McCown writes "rookie cornerbacks are not always a group that starts well, and Trufant allowed roughly 10 yards per pass attempt last year and has not been the same player since his 2016 pectoral tear. Orwaruiye is going to surface here eventually, the only question is when."
Winovich, a third-round selection in the 2019 draft, posted 5.5 sacks in 16 games as a rookie, and McCown projects the former Michigan star to have an expanded role in his second season.
"Winovich is a big winner in New England's tumultuous offseason that saw Jamie Collins (Lions), Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy flee to former Patriots coaches in big-money deals," McCown writes. "New England hit the pass-rush hard in the draft with Josh Uche (Michigan) in the second round and Anfernee Jennings in the third round, but Winovich is the only upside player they have with much in the way of real experience.
" ... The Patriots figure to break in the rookies slowly in a COVID year as long as they have an option, and with the depth chart populated by the likes of John Simon and Shilique Calhoun (Michigan State), they don't really have any impactful pass-rushers with any experience outside of Winovich. He figures to be involved early and often."
Long, also a third-round selection in 2019, played just eight games as a rookie, had two pass breakups and nine tackles.
"This is mostly a pick about pedigree," McCown writes, "because Long didn't log many snaps last year for a Rams team that primarily used Jalen Ramsey (Marcus Peters before the trade), Troy Hill and Nickell Robey-Coleman at cornerback. Robey-Coleman departed for free agency, leaving only Darious Williams as a real challenger for Long as the third corner."
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Justin Layne, a former Michigan State star, made McCown's honorable mention list.