One common theme with the Lions in recent drafts is the need to select someone early who can help their generally gruesome secondary. The closest the team has gotten is oft injured Louis Delmas, converted CB turned Safety Amari Spievey, and 2012 3rd rounder Bill Bentley. That trend broke today when the Lions selected Mississippi State CB Darius Slay with their 2nd round pick. Another huge need was the Lions Offensive Line, which saw three different starters depart. 2012 1st round pick Riley Reiff would presumably take one spot, but that still left two so to address that the Lions selected Kentucky Guard Larry Warford who inexplicably fell an entire round from his early 2nd round projection.
Slay came with concerns over reports he had a torn meniscus in his knee. As recent as the day before the draft, Slay was told he would not need surgery, however, as the injury was not that severe. Slay passed every team medical he took and had extensive workouts with several teams, reports of which were favorable. This included when he visited the Lions as well, which it was mentioned went well.
The Lions wanted a big, fast playmaker and Slay definitely fits that bill. Tied for the lead in interceptions in the SEC for 2012, Slay knows what to do with the ball after getting it as he took two of them to the house (one in 2011, one in 2012), both for long distances of 52 yards and 72 yards. He has also made his presence felt on Special Teams, and wants the opportunity to be a return man for the Lions.
Larry Warford is a big dude. The Lions needed a big dude to plug in at Right Guard, and while suspicions were building that the Lions would attempt to pug in Riley Reiff at RG they would end up drafting the big Guard out of Kentucky. Another player the coaches were exposed to at the Senior Bowl, Warford is a punishing run blocker who is surprisingly good in space for a man of his size. Warford was projected to go to the Lions with their 2nd round pick, so the fact they were able to pick him up in the 3rd round is amazing.
The biggest knock on Warford, ironically, is that he struggles to get out of his stance so he isn’t the short yardage blocker you would like him to be. The Lions like to get their blockers into space, however, and despite his size and lack of footspeed Warford is adept at finding his way into space and eliminating blockers downfield.
The Lions very well may have aded two starters on day two of the draft. Obviously that is ideal, but I can’t stress how rare it is. Both of these players will get a shot to start from day one. Warford is a clearly better blocker than Bill Nagy or the unproven Rodney Austin, but the interesting battle will be Darius Slay fithing it out for the second CB spot with Chris Greenwood, Jonte Green, Bill Bentley, and veteran Ron Bartell. Training camp and preseason haven’t been this exciting at the CB spot for a very long time!