Emmanuel Moseley stepped out of his parents' car on his recruiting visit to Tennessee, and was approached by a future teammate.
"He’s like, 'Hey, I’m going to be your host for the day,’ and it was Cam Sutton," Moseley said Thursday.
10 years later, Moseley and Sutton are teammates again. This time in Detroit.
"Full circle," Moseley said after officially signing a one-year, $6 million deal with the Lions. "He’s always been that big brother to me, and pretty sure he’s going to do the same here."
For three years at Tennessee, Moseley and Sutton lined up opposite one another at cornerback. Sutton took away one side of the field, Moseley the other. They combined for 51 passes defended and the Vols went 21-9 with both them in action, which would sound pretty good over the next few years for the Lions.
Moseley is on a prove-it deal after tearing his ACL last season with the 49ers, where he had grown into a key player on one of the best defenses in the NFL. Sutton proved himself over six seasons with the Steelers and landed a three-year, $33 million deal with Detroit. Assuming Moseley makes a full recovery by training camp, they will be the Lions' top two corners at the start of next season.
And they will be expected to improve a secondary that allowed the third most passing yards per game, the second most yards per pass and the most yards per completion in the NFL last season. They've done it before. The year prior to Sutton's arrival at Tennessee, the Vols ranked 110th in the country in pass defense. By the time Sutton and Moseley were on the field together, they ranked 22nd.
"Coming in, we’re just going to be leaders of the group," said Moseley, who turns 27 this month. "Coach as much as we can, learn from them, things they do well, and they’re going to learn from us and things we do well. Most of all, we’re just going to compete in that room. Competition makes things better. That’s how I always learned, how I always got better.
"Knowing Cam from college, he was always smart, always physical, helping me with my game. I’m ready to continue to learn from him, but also teach him things I can do and then just bring that into the group."
The Lions do have pieces to work with behind Moseley and Sutton. At times last season, Jeff Okudah looked like the corner who went third overall in 2020, Jerry Jacobs looked like the pitbull he can be and former safety Will Harris, who just returned on a one-year deal, looked like a solid option at nickel. And the Lions could further bolster the cornerbacks room in the draft.
But clearly, they weren't willing to wait.
"They took a chance on me, signing me here coming off this knee injury, but I know what type of player I can be," said Moseley. "I see the direction that the program is going in. Being a football player watching their games, you can see that they’re trending the right way. So why not be a part of that?"
In five games last season prior to his injury, Moseley held quarterbacks to a passer rating of 63.5. In 11 games the season before that, a rating of 72.1. He described himself as a "very physical corner" who loves "being up in front of peoples’ faces." He also said he loves "coming up to tackle," which will earn him the trust of Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn. Moseley plays with wits and confidence, just like Sutton -- who held quarterbacks to a rating of 69.6 last season.
They once teamed up to fix a defense in Tennessee. Now, Moseley and Sutton are ready to roll up their sleeves in Detroit.
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