The Detroit Lions drafted CB Darius Slay in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Mississippi State and instilled him into a fairly good position for a rookie entering the league. By placing him in a secondary behind two established veterans, Chris Houston and Rashean Mathis, Slay was able to take the season as a chance to learn from his experienced teammates.
According to Slay, the veteran defensive backs were happy to teach him the ropes of the NFL, in preparation for a time when they would no longer be with the team.
“Chris took me as his little brother, then him and ‘Shean just took me in,” said Slay, a second-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2013. “They’re just working with me to make sure I try to be the best because their time is going to end (at some point), and I’m the young (one).
For Houston, that time came much sooner than he anticipated when the Lions released him on Friday.
Slay had a chance to receive a considerable amount of playing time last season. While filling in for Houston who was dealing with his toe injury. It was a somewhat turbulent year, but Slay progressed as the season went on.
Slay’s progression has carried over into OTA’s this offseason.
“Slay looked faster, smarter and more confident as the Lions progressed through their spring of organized team activities.”
It is promising to see the progression of Slay sustained this year, but the question remains — Is Darius Slay ready to be the Lions No. 1 cornerback?
The Lions organization and fans alike sure hope he is.
The release of Houston also displays a vote of confidence that the Lions have in the other defensive backs on the roster too, including 34-year-old Mathis (who is likely a lock to start), Bill Bentley, free-agent acquisition Cassius Vaughn, and rookie Nevin Lawson.
Slay doesn’t have the experience, but he’s the most talented corner on the roster.
So far, he says he’s up for the challenge.
“It just shows that a lot of people believe in my talent and what I could do and what I can bring to the table. And I’m going to bring it,” a confident Slay said this week. “That’s what I did at Mississippi State. Me and (Johnthan) Banks were both No. 1 guys, so we just played like we were the man.
“That’s what I plan on doing here.”
Many Lions fans have already voiced their concern of Slay taking over the No. 1 job, and it’s with good cause. Slay started for the
Lions last season too, opposite of Houston, only to be benched in week three after he continued to struggle.
The Lions have no choice but to hope that this isn’t a minicamp mirage, and that Slay can deliver the goods when the pressure’s on.