Entering his fourth season, Delmas’ value greatly exceeds his on-the-field performance as his contributions to the team make the players around him better.
The former 33rd overall pick did not participate in on-the-field action during last week’s mandatory minicamp but he is making his presence felt.
During team scrimmages, when the No. 1 and No. 2 defenses were on the field, Delmas could be seen on the sideline with rookie free agent Alonzo Lawrence to his left and second-year pro Ricardo Silva to his right.
After each play, Delmas would lean over with words of wisdom for the youngsters.
Lawrence and Silva are both young hopefuls looking for an opportunity and a spot on the 53-man roster; for that reason Delmas’ advice should be treated as gold.
The mentoring doesn’t stop with the inexperienced and expands to the starting lineup -- including the Lions other starting safety, Amari Spievey
“I ask Delmas questions every day,” said Spievey. “I’m always learning, I always have questions. You don’t learn if you don’t ask questions.”
Spievey is entering his third season in the NFL but his first true offseason as a safety.
Drafted in the third round in 2010, the former Iowa Hawkeye entered the NFL as a cornerback. He was converted to safety during his rookie season but failed to have a true offseason at the position due to last season’s lockout.
With the help of his teammates and coaches, Spievey feels like he is achieving a stronger grasp of the position.
“I’m working on improving my knowledge of the game, preparation and all that stuff,” said Spievey. “This is my third year as a safety and I’m having my first offseason as a safety so I think that’s going to help me out this year.”
There is no doubt Delmas has had a hand in the progress.
Fellow veteran safety Erik Coleman is entering his ninth season in the NFL and offers 82 starts, 606 tackles and 10 interceptions of experience.
The biggest difference between Delmas and Coleman is that Delmas is secured in his spot as the team’s top safety while Coleman is fighting for a position.
Coleman, like Spievey, was a victim of last season’s lockout along with an injury. He joined the Lions as a veteran free agent but had the tall task of learning his role in the defense late in training camp – an especially difficult chore for someone playing the safety position.
Coleman is putting in the necessary work to bounce back this season.
Still, when talking about the Lions secondary – especially safety – the conversation should start and stop with Delmas.
Each player on the defensive side of the ball will tell you he is the quarterback of that unit and – like a good quarterback – makes the entire unit better.
From explaining plays on the sideline to players who will struggle to make the roster to mentoring the player projected to line up next to him, Delmas does it all for this group.
He impacts the game on the field as well.
In the 2011 regular season, the Lions allowed an average of 210.8 passing yards and a touchdown pass per game with Delmas in the lineup. When Delmas didn’t play they allowed 337.4 passing yards and 2.8 touchdown passes.
Whether it’s on or off the field, Delmas makes the players around him better and figures to again be one of the team’s most valuable players in 2012.