Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye starting to get attention as a rising star

SideLion Report

Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye is among the NFL leaders in interceptions, and he’s starting to get noticed now.

The Detroit Lions used the third overall pick in the 2020 draft on cornerback Jeff Okudah. In the fifth round of the 2019 draft (146th overall), they took cornerback Amani Oruwariye. Okudah’s career has been derailed by injuries in his first two years, while Oruwariye is a player on the rise.

Oruwariye started two games as a rookie, then he started 15 in 2020 as nearly a full time player for the Lions (92 percent of the defensive snaps). This year, he has started all 14 games thus far and is having a breakout season.

During Detroit’s win over Arizona in Week 15, Oruwariye made a great play for his sixth interception this season. It was also a play that took back the momentum for the Lions, after a turnover that set the Cardinals up in pretty good field position.

 Amani Oruwariye is starting to get noticed

Oruwariye is third in the league by himself with his six interceptions. He also has 11 pass breakups and 57 total tackles (44 solo, two tackles for loss). Through Week 15, he is allowing just a 74.1  passer rating in his coverage (via Pro Football Reference). He is a bigger corner, listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, and he’s clearly learning how to marry his physical tools with the intangible aspects of playing against NFL wide receivers. Having Aaron Glenn, a former cornerback, as his defensive coordinator this year has surely helped.

Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network apparently had a first-round grade on Oruwariye in 2019. If he did, he was probably one of the only ones. Damian Parson of TDN placed some of his own props on Oruwariye’s development.

Cornerback is one of the toughest positions to transition from college to the pros. The development of Oruwariye has been nothing short of satisfying. He is comfortable in press and off-man coverage, properly using leverage to tighten throwing lanes. His ability to click and close from zone coverage is great to see. His development allows Okudah to return on the right timeline and find his confidence without being forced to defend the opposing team’s WR1.

Matt Bowen of ESPN mentioned Oruwariye on a list of “Three under-the-radar defensive backs I really like.”

From the department of “the Lions just can’t have nice things”, Oruwariye missed practice on Wednesday for an undisclosed reason. Hopefully it’s nothing bad on a personal level, or anything that will impact his playing status. But he’s been a breakout player in a season that’s been mostly dismal for Detroit, and Oruwariye is getting some worthy attention as a rising star.

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