Detroit Lions: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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Darius Slay, Detroit Lions
ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 30:  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

50. . Cornerback. (2013-Current). Darius Slay. 23. player

Darius Slay‘s position on this list matches his jersey number. Although that was purely coincidental, No. 23 is an appropriate ranking for the Lions’ shutdown corner.

He was taken in the second round of 2013’s draft. Though expectations for him were high due to his lofty draft status, the former Mississippi State Bulldog needed time to come into his own as a professional football player.

Despite some initial growing pains early in his career, “Big Play” Slay’s natural charisma and southern-styled confidence helped to endear him both to the organization and to fans.

Slay further won the hearts and minds of his coaches, teammates and fans alike by backing up his big-time pregame banter with his continued growth and strong play on the field. He just needed a nudge in the right direction.

After a difficult first year, Slay sought out the mentorship of Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson in order to get his career on track. His offseason initiative paid off and the tutelage of teammate Glover Quin made way for Slay’s execution to finally match up with his potential in 2017. That year, he was the NFL’s co-leader in interceptions with eight, as he earned first-team All-Pro honors, as well as being named to his first Pro Bowl.

Over the years, Slay has turned himself into a true shutdown corner in every sense of the term. All game long, he posts up on the opposing team’s best receiver. More often than not, he holds him in check.

This past offseason, Slay worked out with some of the NFL’s other elite secondary players such as Richard Sherman, Xavier Rhodes and Aqib Talib. His tireless efforts show that he is constantly seeking out new ways to further hone his craft as a shutdown cornerback.