Darius Slay, Cornerback
Slay is already a good player, but this could well be the year becomes a well known good player.
He was a borderline top 100 performer last season and the shining light of Detroit secondary. Entering his contract year in 2016 Darius Slay has stated that he wants to get paid like a top seven cornerback in his next contract – It’s an odd request but one that could be fulfilled, be it by Detroit or someone else.
Let’s start with one of the best hidden stats of 2015 – in the Lions two games against Green Bay, Slay allowed zero catches. That’s right, none. Aaron Rodgers didn’t complete a pass against Darius Slay. That alone might get him paid like Darrelle Revis.
While he started the 2015 season slowly Slay made massive improvements through the season, to the point where he was allowing just 35 yards across a 5 game span. His form at the end of the season was among the best in the NFL, but as far as consistency goes Slay had more ups and downs than the himalayas. That is definitely not what teams pay the big bucks for.
Another drawback for Slay, particularly in his pursuit of a big money contract, is that he is not a turnover machine. While the established names can get away with just a handful of interceptions a season if you are fighting for a new contract you are going to need the flashy stats and turnovers. While head coach Jim Caldwell seems to be a big fan of Slay and started having him trail the main opposition receiver, not having those pick numbers will hurt Slay’s negotiating power in the off-season.
With all that being said, when Slay is on form he can be extremely good and completely take away receivers – just ask Aaron Rodgers. He can play a variety of coverages well, although his press could use some improving, and if he really nails down and becomes more consistent this season he could easily find himself becoming a household name with big fat contract in 2017.