Former Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay was selected by the Detroit Lions with the fourth pick of the second round in the NFL Draft tonight. He’s the 36th pick overall.
After flying under the radar most of his senior season, Slay (6-foot, 192 pounds) started getting noticed thanks to the Senior Bowl and his Combine performance, where he ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash. Some NFL executives reportedly believe Slay has a higher ceiling than teammate Johnthan Banks, who won the Jim Thorpe Award and was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press. It was thought for most of the lead-up to the draft that Banks would go ahead of Slay, but the latter’s stock continued to climb.
News of Slay suffering a torn meniscus emerged earlier this week, but he told NFL.com that it would not require surgery. It obviously did not dissuade Detroit.
“He’s a man cover guy, he’s played very well in the SEC and been very productive and we’ve been trying to find that big corner,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told the Detroit Free Press. “We’ve talked about that and everybody’s looking for that guy. He has got a lot of that same stuff. He’s really good in press coverage, he’s physical against the run, so we like this player. He’s going to help us a lot.”
After making 23 tackles and one interception – which he returned 72 yards for a touchdown versus Georgia – as a junior, Slay had 40 tackles and a team-leading five INTs last fall. Slay, a transfer from ICC, worked his way into a starting role as a senior, with Corey Broomfield moving to safety. Slay earned second-team All-SEC honors.
Slay, who is in New York City for the draft, is the 10th MSU player to be drafted since Dan Mullen became head coach prior to the 2009 season.
Detroit’s first-round pick was BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah at fifth overall. The Lions went 8-8 last season.