A Change in the Lions Secondary: Will Harris and Ifeatu Melifonwu Switch Positions

With training camp finally underway, suspicions of two players switching positions was confirmed. Safety Will Harris has now been listed as a cornerback and cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu has been placed at safety. Now your average NFL fan doesnt know these players, and the average Lions fan might only know their names, but it doesn’t mean these are not impact players for the Detroit Lions defense. Harris and Melifonwu have specific play-styles that will bolster their new position groups and the Lions as an entire unit.

Will Harris
Harris ended last season with a 42.6 PFF grade, landing him 91st out of 92 eligible safeties. It’s clear to say he wasn’t performing to the level needed of him and something needed to change. Harris is a 6’1, 200 pound, very physical athlete which would make him more dominant as a corner. The ability to have the height and size advantage on your receiver is key man and zone coverage. Harris transforming to the position of cornerback also allows for more depth at the position.

News broke today that he will be competing with Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah for the outside corner role opposite Amani Oruwariye. In the limited snaps that Harris played last year at corner, he looked more comfortable and confident at the position, ultimately helping the team. His fluidity was a problem however, but that can be fixed through experience at the position. Will Harris could be a low end cornerback two to a high end cornerback three which is beneficial to the Lions immediate success.

Ifeatu Melifonwu
Lions new safety Ifeatu Melifonwu is definitely the more interesting player in the position swap. The former cornerback from Syracuse had an injury riddled rookie season. A thigh injury in week two kept him out for eight weeks, but in the weeks he played, he showed flashes of quality. Melifonwu is a 6’3, 213 pound monster, which definitely contributed to his switch to safety. His larger frame allows him to match up well with tight ends, which Harris simply wasn’t able to do. Good off ball coverage mixed with good hands and body control allows him to be a ballhawk that can turn the ball over.

Last year Aaron Glenn showed a lot of three safety sets, which Melifonwu would fit perfectly into next to Tracy Walker and Deshon Elliot. In these sets Melifonwu could even slide down to the box and it wouldn’t be an issue because of his size and speed. The Syracuse alumnus is expected to excel at safety, but even if he struggles in his first few games at the position, he has flexibility to move back to corner and impct the defense positively.

While this roster change isn’t breaking headlines across the league, the diehard Lion fans can recognize what Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes are doing. It’s clear to see the vision and these little things should be getting fans pumped for the upcoming season.