Each year, Pro Football Focus names a "Secret Superstar" for all 32 NFL teams. Essentially, PFF's goal is to "highlight young emerging players, as well as consistently quality players still flying under the radar." Last year, for example, PFF went the latter route for the Detroit Lions by naming linebacker Stephen Tulloch their Secret Superstar. Based on how Tulloch played before he tore his ACL, that was a pretty good pick.
This year, PFF went in the other direction by naming a young, emerging player as the Lions' Secret Superstar. Specifically, PFF went with cornerback Darius Slay, who is "primed for a breakout year" after an excellent 2014 season.
On the year, Slay played 97% of the Lions’ defensive snaps, far more than the 33% he played in his rookie season. His overall grade of +7.2 was 16 among corners this past season. That grade was also the highest among any corner that were thrown at over 100 times. Despite being a speed corner, Slay showed he wasn’t afraid to hit, finishing in the Top 20 in tackles and Run Stop Percentage among corners.
Slay's emergence last season played a big role in the overall emergence of the Lions' defense. This year, given some of the losses up front, the Lions will be counting on Slay even more. He seems ready to make that next jump in his career, and as PFF suggested, he could be on the verge of becoming the NFL's next superstar at cornerback.