When a football player has a last name like Slay, good things are bound to happen, right? Well, at least, that’s what the Detroit Lions are hoping for with second-round pick Darius Slay.
Already penciled in as a starter for the Lions, Slay has his work cut out for him during training camp as he prepares for the excruciating task of playing cornerback in the NFC North, one of the best passing conferences in the NFL. While the physical tools are there for Slay to succeed in Detroit, he’s going to have to overcome some obstacles first.
The most immediate hurdle is getting healthy after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery less than a month ago. According to reports, Slay suffered a slight meniscus tear during his Pro Day. While the procedure was likely a clean-up rather than a full-out repair, Slay must be at 100 percent before he hits the field for the Lions. Returning early and risking further injury is the last thing Detroit wants from the No. 36 overall pick.
Competition won’t be too stiff as Slay attempts to lock down the starting cornerback gig across from Chris Houston, but there will certainly be some other players nipping at the rookie’s heels. Bill Bentley, who is still working his way back from surgeries on both shoulders, might not be ready when training camp rolls around. Unless Slay underwhelms early, though, Bentley will likely slide in as the starting slot cornerback.
The only player capable of pushing for Slay’s slot on the depth chart is second-year cornerback Chris Greenwood, but his chances are extremely thin. After missing his entire rookie season due to an abdominal injury, Greenwood will likely serve in a backup role as Slay mans the spot opposite Houston.
Recently-acquired Ronald Bartell is also an option, but a highly-unlikely one.
Slay is still a bit raw, but the long-term potential is there for the Mississippi State product to develop into a terrific NFL cornerback. Assuming he’s ready for training camp, the second-rounder shouldn’t have any trouble locking down a starting gig and helping the Lions get back on track in 2013.
The Detroit secondary needed an upgrade, and got it with the addition of Slay. But will it be enough to slow down the likes of Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson? Only time will tell.