ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions used their first two draft picks on defensive players for the first time in seven years.
After taking BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah in Thursday’s first round, the Lions came back Friday and went for Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay in the second round with the 36th pick overall.
“We came into this draft with an objective,” general manager Martin Mayhew said. “We wanted to get bigger, we wanted to get faster, we wanted to get more athletic and we’ve done that with these two picks.
“Our division’s a very physical division. We’ve got to be able to physically match-up with these guys. These two guys give us the opportunity to do that.”
The biggest question about Slay right now is a torn meniscus in his knee. Some teams were concerned that he might not be ready for the start of training camp, according to NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock.
It’s a similar situation to last year when the Lions took receiver Ryan Broyles in the second round, although not necessarily as severe. Broyles was coming off surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
“We’ve done some investigation … we’re on top of that,” Mayhew said of Slay’s injury. “We’re aware there’s an issue with his knee and we’re comfortable with that.”
Coach Jim Schwartz said: “This isn’t a long-term injury from the information that we have. It’s still to be determined if he’s going to miss any time and how much he’d miss. But we didn’t draft him as a redshirt.”
Slay, who played two years at Mississippi State in the SEC after transferring from a junior college, also downplayed the injury.
“I was told I don’t have to have surgery,” he said. “I feel like I’m moving pretty good right now. It never really did (become a problem). They did a MRI on it and they saw something there … a torn meniscus, I guess. And that was it.”
Slay, who is 6-foot, 192 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
The injury reportedly occurred sometime that month.
Slay, 22, attended the draft Friday night in New York City and held up his 5-year-old son, Darion, when the pick was announced.
His college teammate, Johnthan Banks, also a cornerback, received the majority of publicity at Mississippi State, but some scouts came away more impressed with Slay in the end.
“We had a first-round grade on him,” Mayhew said. “You go in there looking at Johnthan Banks, this guy catches your eye. You see the 4.35 (speed), you see the size, how physical he is, how strong he is, he’s a good tackler, good blitzer.”