The strength of the Detroit Lions defense is the secondary. That may not have been the case a few years ago. The Lions secondary used to be a welcome mat for the NFL. Nevertheless, times are changing. The leader of the secondary is CB Darius Slay.
Darius Slay was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played his college ball at Mississippi State. During his senior season, he had 5 interceptions with one returned for TD. He also recorded 40 tackles.
Slay plays long. He has a 32 ¼” arms. This allows him to play off the receiver and play more with his hands. This is something that all good corners are able to do. He is also very good at attacking the ball. He causes many would-be receptions to be dropped due to his ball skills. Slay is also a solid tackler. That is something you do not see out of many cornerbacks.
The Detroit Lions made Darius Slay a full-time starter in 2014. This was his best season to date as well. He started all 16 games, he had 2 INTs, and 18 passes defended. Along with all the pass defense stats, he accrued 62 tackles as well. This is a rather high number for a corner.
His next two years he would again start 29 of 32 games. Missing only 3 in 2016. He would again have 2 INTs in each of those two seasons. He would also defend 13 passes in each of those two seasons. The lack of pass defenses is a sign that opposing offenses are staying away from Darius Slay’s side of the field. It shows he is gaining respect as the team’s shutdown corner.
The Detroit Lions will have to utilize the ball and coverage skills of Darius Slay more in 2017. He may have to follow the opposition’s best receiver from time to time or even all of the time. This would only benefit Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin and the Detroit Lions defense.
The Lions will need Slay to continue to prove he is a valuable corner. Especially playing in the NFC North. Anytime you have to play against Aaron Rodgers twice a year, you need at least one solid cornerback on your squad. Darius Slay is that player for the Detroit Lions.
Editor’s Note: This article can also be seen in our upcoming NFL Preview Edition.