After nabbing Ansah in the first round, Martin Mayhew has decided to go with cornerback Darius Slay from Mississippi State in Round 2.
I was keen for the Lions to go for offensive tackle Terron Armstead, linebacker Arthur Brown or wide receiver Quinton Patton. Nevertheless, while I believe they would have been better value than Slay, he is still a very good player who could be a big-time player for the Lions.
At 6'0" and 195 pounds, Slay is a great athlete. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and showed great quickness and leaping ability, which is very rare at his size. He has the technique to be great in man and zone coverage, and has shown the ability to be a great press corner if he refines his technique. He also has the instincts and ball skills to be a massive playmaker in zone coverage.
Slay is also a very committed run defender who sheds blocks, makes solid tackles and reads the play well. On a Lions defense that has struggled with big outside runs, his ability to make plays will be very appreciated.
The major issue I have with his value here is the risk associated with this pick. Slay has not played a lot in the SEC, and his game is still raw. He got by a lot on his athleticism in college, even in the SEC, but in the NFL he will have to get better. Although it is scary to think the first two Lions picks could be busts, that thought should not surprise the Lions a whole lot. After all, both Ansah and Slay are real-boom-or-bust selections.
Slay is also a great fit for the Lions scheme. The Lions play a lot of press coverage and a lot of zone coverage, and both of these roles fit Slay's skill set perfectly. His ball skills, burst and length will be great for Detroit. He also has the ability to help the return game and special teams coverage as he develops.
Pick Grade: B-
While I like Slay as a player, I do think that there were better options available for the Lions, especially since Slay is a boom-or-bust player. However, if he builds his technique and instincts, he will probably be a Pro Bowl cornerback with elite ball skills. That is something very valuable.