Mississippi State's Darius Slay emphatically bolstered his draft status at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.
Before Tuesday, much attention was focused on his teammate and fellow corner Johnthan Banks. Banks had won the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award, so his potential as arguably the draft's top cornerback was certainly deserving of recognition.
Slay, on the other hand, had a quietly productive season with 11 passes defended, 40 tackles and even 101 receiving yards on five receptions..
At the combine, Slay jolted the competition by running the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds.
This measurement -- especially the initial 10-yard burst -- arguably is more important for cornerbacks than any other position on the field, adding gravity to Tuesday's impressive run by Mississippi State's Darius Slay.
Slay posted an official time of 4.36 seconds in his second 40 run to finish with the fastest time on the day. Slay came to the combine slated as a middle-round selection, but his speedy performance should help him move up boards with the 2013 NFL Draft less than two months away.
It was the fastest official time among all defensive prospects and the fifth fastest overall. Any time a cornerback brings this level of speed to the position in a pass-oriented league, he will find the field as a rookie.
Plus that acceleration gives Slay the luxury of potentially impacting a team as a return specialist.
In short, versatility never hurts.
Elsewhere Slay performed solidly at the combine, bounding to 124 inches on the broad jump, speeding to 4.21 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle and reaching 6.90 seconds on the three-cone drill.
Measured at 6'0", 192 pounds, Slay still needs to add some bulk for pro football.
He pumped out only 14 reps on the bench press, so the strength to handle the bigger and stronger receivers will be required. That said, Slay is a relentless defender who isn't afraid to attack the line or make a play on the ball when in coverage.
Although he needs to become a bit more aware in zone coverage, that will come with more experience throughout his development.
But Slay is capable of matching anyone man-to-man, which, when factored with his speed on punts and kickoffs, makes him a potential gem in Round 2 or 3 entering March.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!