Darius Slay Is Among The Best In The League At A Position That Is Highly Sought Across The NFL.
The Detroit Lions live and die by the arm of Matthew Stafford. Without him, this is probably a four-win team. This is nothing new to Lions’ fans, and it is something that fans have come to understand. This team wins and loses with its quarterback. This is probably going to remain true for the foreseeable future. After Matthew Stafford, I believe that Darius Slay is the most important player to the Lions’ success, both short and long term.
On offense, everything runs through Stafford. The Lions have dealt with changes and injuries across the offensive line, their running game has been completely ineffective, and the Lions may not have a starting quality tight end on the roster. The Lions have a talented group of receivers, but Stafford has shown the ability to win with any of them.
It wasn’t long ago that people questioned whether he could be successful without Calvin Johnson. He promptly answered those questions.
That brings us to the defensive side of the ball.
The Lions’ linebackers have struggled ever since the departure of Deandre Levy. Some of the younger additions show promise for the future, but they still have a long way to go, and the NFL has started to devalue the linebacker position more and more as the league changes.
Generally, the most valuable players on the defense are either a lockdown cornerback, or an elite pass rusher. If Ziggy Ansah had avoided his slew of injuries and managed to maintain his pass rushing efficiency from a few years ago, he could still be in this conversation. Unfortunately for Ziggy and the Detroit Lions, this has not been the case.
Outside of Ziggy, the Lions have very little to speak of in terms up top end talent on the defensive line.
This brings us to the secondary, the defensive group that excels for Detroit. Darius Slay is a top corner in the NFL. He very much deserves to be in the conversation of top five cornerbacks across the league. He doesn’t always get the respect that he deserves, but Darius Slay has solidified himself as one of the elite players at one of the most important positions in the NFL.
Only one other player on the team rivals Darius Slay in terms of overall importance to the team, fellow secondary player Glover Quin. While Darius Slay locks down opposing receivers, Glover Quin has quietly become one of the best safeties in the NFL. He plays a variety of roles for the Lions and is a leader of the Detroit defense.
You could certainly make a case for Glover Quinn being the most important player to the Detroit Lions on the defensive side of the ball, but I would argue that Darius Slay, still a young player by NFL standards, holds more importance to the team’s success in the next five years, and plays a position that is much harder to find and acquire top talent.
Having a top tier cornerback alleviates a lot of pressure in terms of resource allocation in the offseason. Elite cornerbacks are hard to find in the NFL Draft and usually require top picks to acquire. Their development time is longer than that of most positions, and cornerbacks do not come cheap in free agency.
Darius Slay has solidified one of the most sought positions in the NFL for the Detroit Lions for years to come. Though Slay doesn’t always get the national respect he deserves, he’s probably the second most important player for this team, both this year and the years ahead.