By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Darius Slay never minded playing in Johnthan Banks’ shadow, but now that he’s out of it he’s gaining more attention.
Slay will have a chance today to really show off his skills at the NFL Combine. The former Mississippi State cornerback has been in Indianapolis since the weekend, and today is when he – and Banks – will run the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, 3-cone drill, etc.
The former ICC standout is eager to boost his stock.
“I’m just ready to prove to a lot of folks what I’m capable of doing,” Slay said. “Kind of on the other side (of the field), people are looking at me like I’m getting the sloppy plays. I’m trying to show them that I earned the plays that I made, and I made them when they did come my way.”
Slay made five interceptions as a senior to go with six pass break-ups and 40 tackles, and he was named second-team All-SEC. Banks had four interceptions, seven break-ups and 63 tackles, and he won the Jim Thorpe Award for being the nation’s top defensive back.
While Banks is almost a lock for the first round of April’s NFL Draft, Slay has seen his stock rise since MSU’s season ended. He impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl.
Mike Mayock, an analyst for the NFL Network, recently said that when watching tape of Banks, “my eye kept going to the other kid, and I liked him a lot. I think (Slay is) a guy that’s a third- or fourth-round player. And I think he’s opened some eyes.”
Slay originally signed with MSU out of Brunswick, Ga., and stuck with the Bulldogs after two stellar seasons at ICC. He got into a deep cornerback rotation as a junior and had a 72-yard interception return for touchdown against Georgia that year.
Last season, Slay had four picks through the first three games, and suddenly opposing teams knew they had two elite corners to reckon with.
“I was happy that Banks was getting that exposure that he’s got; he deserved it,” Slay said. “But they ain’t taken that long to realize that Mississippi State’s got two great corners on each side.”
While Slay looks to be a third- or fourth-round pick right now, although he could certainly keep moving up the boards. He said he’s just “truly blessed” to be in this position.
“I’m ready to step into the real world and do my job and try to make money for it.”