It is amazing to think that at age 26, Darius Slay is among the oldest players in the Detroit Lions cornerback room.
Slay's senior status gives him an opportunity to be a mentor to some of the younger cornerbacks recently added to the roster. Slay is being given a chance to pay forward some of the same advice and football lessons he learned as a youngster from veterans.
It's a role Slay is enjoying.
"Big responsibility," Slay said. "I've been taking some pointers from my older guys I had in my time. I still be calling Shean (former Lion Rashean Mathis) and GQ (Glover Quin) is still here with me and he keeps me up to date.
"Still learning and teaching the young guys that I've been through a lot and I know a lot and I'm just trying to get all the information I got to them."
It would be wise for Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew and the other young corners on the roster to listen up.
Slay came into the league in 2013 as a second-round pick and quickly learned that playing cornerback in the NFL is tough business. Lining up and trying to cover some of the best athletes in the world at receiver takes more than just being a good athlete yourself. It takes great technique and a certain confidence.
Slay was an on-again, off-again starter as a rookie before finally settling into a starting role permanently in his second season. He's since become one of the best young corners in the league and was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2016.
Slay says he loves playing the role of mentor, but that doesn't mean he'll ever lose the fun-loving way he goes about playing this game.
"That's just me as a person and my personality, but everybody knows when I come between these lines I mean business," Slay said. "They watch how I work and they see the effort I put in and they're like, 'Dang, Slay go hard.' Even though I laugh and giggle, between these lines, though, I'm going to give you everything."
On paper, Detroit's secondary looks much deeper than it has in recent years. Starters Slay, Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs return, and the depth comes from the addition of veteran DJ Hayden in free agency and the drafting of Tabor and Agnew in this year's draft.
The Lions struggled with defending the pass last season, though those struggles went hand in hand with their inability to consistently get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Opponents completed 72.7 percent of their passes on the Lions' defense last season, and had a quarterback rating of 106.5.
The additions of Hayden, Tabor and Agnew should promote greater competition and make all of Detroit's cornerbacks better in the long run.
"I love (the cornerback room)," Slay said. "We're going to build together and grow together. It's going to be a very, very competitive room, but we all love each other. We know it's a business, but we're all out here to get each other better."