MOBILE, Ala. – Darius Slay is enjoying the Florida sun in Orlando on his second straight trip to the Pro Bowl. The sixth-year cornerback is considered one of the best playmakers at the position. He leads the league in passes defended (91) since 2013. Slay has totaled 11 interceptions in the past two seasons, tied for the most by a cornerback in that span.
The problem the Lions currently have at the cornerback position is that Slay is the only one making those big plays. Detroit had just seven interceptions this season, second fewest in the league, and Slay was the only cornerback on the roster to record at least one.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn is on the lookout for playmakers, and could potentially look at the cornerback position as one of those areas where adding a playmaker or two could make an immediate impact, whether that's in free agency, the draft or both.
LSU junior Greedy Williams is the consensus No. 1 cornerback available in April's draft by most analysts. That could obviously change over the next couple months. Most peg Georgia's Deandre Baker as the best senior available at the position, but he turned down an invite to this week's Senior Bowl.
There's still a number of highly-touted cornerbacks here in Mobile, and it's a good bet Quinn and the Lions will be keeping close tabs on all of them. This year's Senior Bowl is a one-stop shop for a little bit of everything at the position. There are players with size, physicality, speed and a few playmakers in the bunch, like Temple's Rock Ya-Sin, Penn State's Amani Oruwariye and Texas' Kris Boyd.
"It's very important (to show this week) that I can fit in anywhere and do anything and play the call, whatever the call is," Ya-Sin said.
Ya-Sin (5-11, 189) has shown an ability early on in Senior Bowl practices to be around the football. He forced a fumble in Tuesday's practice and also knocked a couple of passes away from receivers in one-on-one drills.
A former state wrestling champ before picking up football late his junior year of high school, Ya-Sin was one of the five fastest players during Tuesday's South Team practice according to the Zebra Technologies sensors the players wear in their pads.
View photos from the first practice of the 2019 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Oruwariye, a First Team All-Big Ten and a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist, has terrific size (6-1, 205). He recorded seven interceptions over the last two seasons. He was a technician in coverage during Tuesday's North Team practice.
"Instead of thinking of it as a 50-50 ball, see it as 100-0," Oruwariye said. "See it as your ball. Once the ball is in the air, I'm turning into a receiver and going and getting it.
"You see a lot of corners out there that aren't really looking back for the ball and not playing the ball, but that's how you make plays."
Boyd was the most physical of the bunch of cornerbacks. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Texas product had one particular one-on-one rep where he jammed the receiver so hard he ended up on his back. He also gave up some catches to some of the squad's shiftier receivers. He's defended 30 passes over his last two seasons at Texas.
Houston's Isaiah Johnson (6-2, 207) and Kentucky's Lonnie Johnson (6-2, 210) are a couple other names to monitor throughout Senior Bowl week and the pre-draft process.