NFL Draft 2024 – Cornerbacks

NFL Draft 2024 – Cornerbacks
Draft Insiders’ –  Top Prospects

Frank Coyle/ Publisher

Quinyon Mitchell heads a very strong cornerback class which could once again provide the most defensive draft choices in the NFL Draft. Mitchell and Terrion Arnold rank the top two prospects in this talented class and both could be off the board by the mid-first round. Both are highly developed and checked all the boxes in the postseason to be rookie starters in September.

At least 5 or 6 corner could come off the board in the first round with many clubs having pressing needs at the position. Here are Draft Insiders’ top 5 Prospects scouting reports, top rankings and positional overview.

Photo – Quinyon Mitchell – Toledo (New York Post)

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Cornerbacks – Grade: A

     Positional Overview:

This year’s cornerback class is a high-quality group which is very deep and provide a few blue-chip prospects at the top. Blue chip defenders Quinyon Mitchell and Terrion Arnold head this class and are expected to go in the mid-1st round with many other highly regarded corners expected to go through the late first round into the 2nd day selections. Underclassmen dominate our top ten prospects, though the senior group is a very solid with nice development. Mitchell is our #1 prospect off an excellent postseason in all areas. Arnold is another blue-chip Bama defender who is NFL ready. Nate Wiggins is a speedster who is expected to earn a late first round selection. Cooper DeJean and Ennis Rakeshaw have the skill set to start early and are well developed to fit in any pro scheme. Max Melton has prototypical shutdown skills for the pro game. He is rising fast and could earn a mid-2nd day selection. He is a rising cover man with well-developed talent to press for early starting time. Kool-Aid McKinstry and Kamari Lassiter are possible late 1st or early 2nd round picks. Both are SEC battle tested and figure to press for starting jobs in camp. TJ Tampa is another talented big corner, coming off an impressive career finish. Nehemiah Pritchett and Khyree Jackson have the length DCs like in outside defenders. Both are good fits for zone schemes. DJ James, Kris Abrams-Draine, Andru Phillips, Mike Sainristil and Chau Smith-Wade are well developed nickel corners who are NFL ready. Sainristil is coming off an impressive final performance which has him rising up the charts. This is a deep group that will supply many NFL starters well into the 3rd day of the draft. There could be at least 12 prospects selected in the top 100 choices. There will probably be 15-18 prospects selected in the top 150 picks with the expected run-on corners from the mid-1st round through the early 3rd day. This class has very good depth and will provide several middle round steals. Seniors, Elijah Jones and Renaldo Green are cover men with developed talent to become major surprises. This position has annually provided the most overall selections and could duplicate that again. This deep group could supply as many as 35 total prospects and another 40 high priority FA. This group will supply a few big corners with some versatility to also slide to safety for the sub packages.   

 NFL Teams in need:

  1. Bills                    5. Rams
  2. Colts                 6. Commanders
  3. Titans               7. Ravens           
  4. Steelers            8. Vikings    

 NFL Premier Player
Patrick Surtain

Blue Chip – Quinyon Mitchell
Blue Chip – Terrion Arnold
Red Chip – Cooper Dejean
Rising – Max Melton
Falling –  Kris Abrams-Draine
Underrated – Caelen Carson
Overrated – Jarrian Jones
Sleeper – Renardo Green
Boom/Bust – Kool-Aid McKinstry
Biggest Upside – Ennis Rakestraw
Hidden Gem – Elijah Jones
Long Term Gem – TJ Tampa

   Positional Traits
Best Athlete – Quinyon Mitchell
Best Man Cover – Quinyon Mitchell
Best Zone Cover – Terrion Arnold
Best Run support – TJ Tampa
Best Tackler – Terrion Arnold
Best Nickel – Andru Phillips
Hands – Cooper Dejean
Best Intangibles – Ennis Rakestraw
Ball Instincts – Mike Sainristil
Most Versatile – Max Melton
Over drafted – Khyree Jackson
Major College Sleeper – Nehemiah Pritchett

Top Cornerbacks – Final Rankings

1 Quinyon Mitchell          Toledo
2 Terrion Arnold               Alabama
3 Cooper Dejean              Iowa
4 Nate Wiggins                  Clemson
5 Ennis Rakestraw          Missouri
6 Kool-Aid McKinstry     Alabama
7 Kamari Lassiter            Georgia
8 Max Melton                     Rutgers
9 TJ Tampa                        Iowa State
10 Khyree Jackson           Oregon
11 Nehemiah Pritchett      Auburn
12 Josh Newton                  TCU
13 DJ James                       Auburn
14 Renardo Green             Florida State
15 Caelen Carson              Wake Forest
16 Kris Abrams-Draine    Missouri
17 Andru Phillips                Kentucky
18 Mike Sainristil                Michigan
19 Chau Smith-Wade        Washington State
20 Cam Hart                        Notre Dame
21 Elijah Jones                   Boston College
22 Dwight McGlothern      Arkansas
23 Jarrian Jones                Florida State
24 Kamal Hadden               Tennessee
25 Jarvis Brownlee            Louisville


 1 Quinyon Mitchell #27 – 6-1, 195                     Toledo – Sp. 4.35         
NFL Comparison: LaJarius Sneed                   Rating 92
Athletic aggressive corner completed an excellent career at Toledo, starting his final three seasons and earning first team MAC honors. Excellent combination of length, speed, quickness and instincts. Easy mover for his size and combined with quick reads allows him to break on passes aggressively. Fast developing prospect excelled at both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine events. Savvy ball hawk with keen instincts to read QBs, and receivers with the burst to the ball to make big plays. Definite fast improvement in all areas especially technique and play recognition. Top balance and footwork allow him to use his sub 4.4 speed and long over 6’1” frame in any matchup. Gains a sound early technique advantage to blanket receivers. Transition skills need some work, though can mirror receivers in man coverage down the field. Rides receivers hip well using his height and long reach to squeeze windows well.   Reads routes with the burst to the ball to break up passes. Major breakout in 2022 with 20 PBUs and 5 interceptions earning him 1st team MAC and All-American mention. Followed with another dominant season and postseason. NFL ready rookie starter with Pro Bowl talent. Strong tackler with backer type hits and sure open field hits.  Aggressive style will endear DC, though he must clean up deep coverage and position to avoid penalties. Top flight developed prospect with skill set to become a day one fixture. Most complete cover man in a very deep group. Impact rookie.                                                                Draft Projection: 1st Round

2 Terrion Arnold #3 – 6-0, 190                           Alabama – Sp. 4.50      
   NFL Comparison: Marshon Lattimore           Rating 91
Savvy confident athlete finished with an impressive 2023 and declared for the NFL Draft. Third year sophomore finished with an excellent NFL Combine workout, with smooth drills displaying all the essential corner skills. He did 4.50 time and 1.54 ten-yard split with a 37” VL and a 10’9” BJ. That followed a breakout 2023 performance where he performed very well vs top flight receivers. Good size and length with the footwork to change directions quickly and retain coverage. Fast reactions and developing instincts to read routes and the AA to matchup and make plays on the ball. Top coverage grades with 65 tackles, 5 interceptions and 12 PBUs in 2023. Solid grades vs both LSU and Texas receivers over past two seasons. Smooth pedal with great eyes and quick feet to read QBs and receivers with the burst to the ball to break up passes. Fast rising prospect with top ball skills to press for early playing time. Makeup of a shutdown corner and rank with any prospect in this class with reps and technique work. Shows good recovery speed and naturally plays the ball with the ability to use his length and experience to be a shutdown cover man. Athlete with the complete makeup of a top flight early starter. Top 20 prospect and defender on the come.
                                                      Draft Projection: 1st Round
3 Cooper Dejean #3 – 6-1, 205                          Iowa – Sp. 4.50             
            NFL Comparison: Minkah Fitzpatrick              Rating 88                    
Long versatile senior defender completed his career with an abbreviated final performance due to a broken fibula. Earned Big Ten honors his final two seasons. Sat out both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine weeks. Strong frame and comes in at 6’1” and 203 lbs. with long arms. Smooth mover with good back pedal, change of directions skills and instincts to line up anywhere in the secondary. More reps on the corner, though equally talented to play safety. Deluxe sub package defender with the ability to lineup outside, over the slot, in the box or the deep patrol. Top punt returner where he shows soft hands, quick footwork and the burst to make plays. Blankets receivers with the physical play to win matchups. Excellent tackler and run support defender to earn reps in all packages. Plays the ball very well with the ability to read routes, play position and use his length and toughness to make plays. Moves well with flexible hips to open quickly and retain coverage. High grades vs Big Ten receivers and rarely loses space in transition which allows him to play tight man. Able to get a good jam and control a receiver and uses his long arms well to help maintain spacing. Smart zone defender to react quickly to underneath passes and needs work on plays and routes to be NFL ready. Developed prospect with the package clubs seek in a starting corner. Where he fits is according to where he lands, though a prospect capable of being a key piece in a pro scheme. Top 25 prospect with physical package to excel, though must get right physically. Special workout April 8 will clarify leg injury and status. At his pro day, he ran well in the low 4.5 and retained his first round grade.
                                                         Draft Projection: 1st Round

4 Nate Wiggins #2 – 6-1, 175                             Clemson – Sp. 4.28     
            NFL Comparison: Greg Newsome                    Rating 88                    
Langy athletic corner has been an excellent ball hawk in the ACC, showing very developed ball skills. Earned ACC honors his final two seasons. Quick twitch defender with good length at over 6’1” and 30 1/2” arms, though a lean 173 lbs. Exceptional range and fine closing speed. Uses his top short-area quickness and lateral movement skills to mirror receivers and maintains his speed to run stride for stride down the field. At the NFL Combine, he ran a blistering 4.28 time with a 1.59 ten. Pulled hamstring ended his workout after adding a 36” VL and 10’7” BJ. Smooth in his ability to change directions and retain position with close coverage. Able to gather himself and break down in space on the move, displaying fine quickness and flexibility. In press coverage, gets good arm extension and can redirect and disrupt receivers at the line. Natural cover man and ball skills with the timing and hands to make big plays. In two starting seasons, he made 3 picks with 19 PBUs with many clubs throwing away from him after his 2022 season. Uses the sidelines well as an extra defender and can track well from a trail position. Uses his outstanding COD to react well on comeback routes. Rookie starter either outside or in slot with highly developed skills. Needs further core strength development and hand technique to reach potential. Top 25 prospect and fixture in secondary.
                                                            Draft Projection: 1st Round
5 Ennis Rakestraw #2 – 5-11, 185                     Missouri – Sp. 4.50     
            NFL Comparison: Denzel Ward                        Rating 88
Aggressive athlete with blue chip skills for the demanding pro corner position. Strong wiry frame for the corner spot with good muscle development. Excellent initial quickness with the ability to flip his hips easily and shadow receivers. Fast footwork that allows him to mirror through the transition stage in both the underneath or deeper routes. Instant accelerator who reaches good speed quickly to ride a receiver’s hip. Exceptional range and fine closing speed. Uses his fine short-area quickness and lateral movement skills to mirror receivers and maintains speed. Keen instincts and smooth COD and able to gather and break down well in space, displaying fine quickness and flexibility. Natural cover man and uses the sidelines and can track well downfield. Explosive cobra-like to plant and drive aggressively and BU passes. Challenges throws looking to create a turnover. In run support, attacks aggressively with secure tackling to finish. Sure tackler at the line or in the open field. Top 30 pick and starter with well- rounded skills.
                                                     Draft Projection: 1st Round

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