It has been quite the season for Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay. First, he was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. Then he ended the 2017 season leading the league with eight interceptions. Next, he, along with punt returner Jamal Agnew, were named to AP’s first-team All Pro squad.
But it’s not ending there. Bleacher Report continued its exhaustive NFL1000 series, which ranks all eligible players at every single position. Ian Wharton, who specializes in defensive backs analysis at Bleacher Report, took on outside cornerbacks this Monday and ranked Slay among the league’s best. In fact, Wharton ranked Slay third overall, behind just veteran corner Jimmy Smith and breakout star A.J. Bouye.
“The NFL leader in interceptions and passes defensed at the position, Slay was a slam dunk All-Pro selection,” Wharton wrote. “He’s not quite the stickiest player in man coverage, lacking the elite fluidity that others have, but he’s proven to be excellent playing off the line of scrimmage.”
Wharton had Slay ranked as the top cornerback in NFC, above guys like Xavier Rhodes and Marshon Lattimore, who got more love from Pro Bowl and All Pro voters. Slay graded particularly high in the “reaction” category, in which Wharton gave him a 23 out of 25 grade, trailing only Marcus Peters in that category.
Two other Detroit Lions made the list, but neither cracked the top 60. Nevin Lawson came in at 65th, while DJ Hayden was just behind him at 68. Both players are set to become free agents at the end of the league year.
Slay is currently in Orlando for the 2018 Pro Bowl, which will be played on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET and will be aired nationally on ESPN.