The Lions had a need at cornerback anyway, but eventually cutting Aaron Berry after a pair of offseason arrests has made it it a glaring weakness. And with starter Chris Houston missing the whole week of practice and being listed as doubtful for the opener, they’re scrambling.
But given a chance to shore up that position, they passed on Janoris Jenkins.
They’ll get a chance to see whether they made a mistake Sunday, when he plays against them as a member of the Rams.
Detroit, picking 23rd, passed on Jenkins to take Iowa offensive lineman Riley Reiff, who has not cracked the starting lineup. But the Lions weren’t the only team scared off by Jenkins’ off-field issues, which include three arrests and four kids with three women. St. Louis stopped the fall in the second round, 39th overall.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz wouldn’t say when he’d have felt comfortable taking Jenkins, saying: “He looks like they found themselves a good one.”
But Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said when he first graded Jenkins’ film, “I thought he was the top corner coming out,” according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
At the time of the draft, the full brunt of the Lions offseason spent in the back of a squad car hadn’t been felt. Only four of their seven offseason arrests had happened by that time.
But there were still enough issues to make drafting him a hard case to sell, even if he’d have filled one of the biggest needs.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he had no problems with the pick, when they picked him (after a couple of trade-downs and drafting two other players first).
“I don’t think we thought it was risky when we took him,” Fisher said. “He fell. We clearly had him rated as one of the top, if not the top, corner on the board. When there’s behavioral issues that you have to check out, then they typically fall, and we felt like he would fall.
“We did our due diligence, we did our research and, at the end of the day, we were very, very excited about having the opportunity to draft him, and he’s exceeded our expectations at this point. He’s a great young man, and he loves football, and he’s very intelligent. He’s going to have a great career.”
And the Lions are going to have to watch and wonder if their other problems kept them from adding a guy who could have answered some questions for them.