To get to know Detroit Lions second-round pick Darius Slay, a cornerback from Mississippi State, I sent five questions to Metal Building Dawg from For Whom the Cowbell Tolls, SB Nation's Bulldogs blog. Here's a look at what he had to say about Slay:
1. Mississippi State produced two outstanding cornerbacks in Slay and Johnthan Banks, who won the Thorpe Award for the nation's best defensive back last season and was also a second-round pick (of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Something I've heard mentioned is that opponents started the 2012 season by throwing at Slay to avoid Banks, but by the end of the season it was the other way around, as teams wanted to avoid Slay. Was this really the case?
Partly. Banks was the known commodity entering the 2012 season, so very early on Slay was tested and he came through with a handful of interceptions. Once SEC play got going they were both thrown at equally, I'd say. I don't have stats to back that up, but that is just my recollection.
2. Slay ended up at Mississippi State after attending a junior college. How quickly was he able to step in and adapt to playing in the SEC?
I'm not sure why he didn't play much his junior year, but he didn't. I heard an interview with our cornerbacks coach before the 2012 season who said Slay just hadn't picked things up fast enough to start in 2011, but he really didn't get on the field much at all. He did have a long pick-six vs. Georgia, but that was about it. But from Day 1 his senior year, including spring practice, he was making noise.
3. Slay ran the fastest 40-yard dash of all the cornerbacks at this year's combine. How well does his speed translate to the football field?
Very well. He was probably the fastest guy on the team last year. He blanketed some top-flight receivers, and he played some punt coverage and was usually the first one to make it to the punt returner.
4. What one thing does Slay need to work on most as he transitions to being an NFL cornerback?
Probably his technique. I think he has all kinds of talent, but when he gets to the next level he's need to keep improving his game. The potential is there; he will just have to work at it.
5. Slay had 5 interceptions and 1 touchdown this past season. Would it be fair to say that he's a playmaker in the secondary?
That's questionable. Most of those interceptions came early in the season against poor teams. I really think y'all should have drafted Banks over Slay. He is really fast, but Banks has better instincts and is a great ball player. Slay could be great, but I think this draft choice was more on potential than proven commodity. Slay was a playmaker in college; in the NFL I see him as a decent corner, but not really a playmaker.