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2024 NFL Draft: Top 10 Cornerback Prospect Deep Dive

2024 Top 10 Cornerbacks
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2023 seemed to be a step forward in defensive play, with some thanks going to Jim Harbaugh's Michigan Wolverines putting on a defensive masterclass in their National Championship victory against Washington. In this year's NFL draft, one of the most intriguing yet deepest positions is cornerback. There are so many corners this year with a ceiling that may result in roughly a dozen of them being taken in the top 3 rounds. I am about to break down my 2024 Top 10 Cornerbacks coming out of college football this year and tell you why. (Below is a breakdown of the 2024 Top 10 Cornerbacks leading up to the NFL Draft.)


2024 Top 10 Cornerbacks
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1. Terrion Arnold: Alabama

My top corner as of right now is Terrion Arnold. Arnold is 20 years old and stands at 6-foot, 200 pounds. He has the ideal, lengthy size for a corner. A big key in the NFL is operating in Man Coverage. He has elite man coverage skills and is an eager influence in helping against the run with 47 total tackles in 2023. Arnold's ability to use his fluid hips against the back shoulder fade is better than any corner in the class, which is key considering how often those throws are made in the NFL. He logged 12 pass breakups and 5 INTs in 2023 while adding a solid 52.5 QBR when he was targeted. Arnold also played a ton of snaps in the slot this season, showing he is versatile and can fit in many schemes.

Strengths: Man/Press coverage, length, and frame. Plays the back shoulder extremely well.

Question Marks: Room to grow in zone coverage. Misjudges the ball at times.


2. Cooper DeJean: Iowa

Cooper DeJean is an interesting prospect. He is well known for his ability to assist in the run game and get behind the line of scrimmage to blow up the play. He is also a well-known natural athlete. In high school, DeJean lettered three times each in baseball, basketball, and track. His ability to use his instincts is the real deal because he uses it to his advantage in zone coverage. He knows when and where to be at all times, along with helping as a return man in special teams. DeJean, a natural-born football player, can run well with the ball in his hands. He grades out to be at the very least, a disciplined pro player. Dejean's only question; will he be able to keep up with NFL wide receivers in man coverage?

Strengths: Zone Coverage. Athleticism. Football IQ. Potential Punt/Kick Returner. Versatility.

Question Marks: Potential Man Coverage Liability. May end up being moved to Safety. Not Great in Press.


3. Nate Wiggins: Clemson

Nate Wiggins is a corner with great height at 6-feet-2-inches. He weighs about 190 pounds, so ideally you would ask him to gain some muscle mass since his frame is a little skinny, but that is no big deal as of now. Wiggins, like Arnold, specializes in man coverage. He has shown elite ability to play the boundary and turn his hips with receivers. He is a liability in the run game, with a clear lack of effort at times. That is something you would imagine an NFL coach can work with. In his junior year, he logged 4 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, and a QBR when thrown against an elite 44.4. With that frame, he has all the tools to be an elite-man coverage corner in the big league.

Strengths: Man Coverage. Hustle. Fluid Hips.

Question Marks: Needs hand work when in press coverage. Top speed needs to be answered at the combine. Effort (or consistency of) in the run game.


4. Kool-Aid McKinstry: Alabama

Kool-Aid McKinstry, given the nickname by his mother due to his "cool" demeanor, brings that onto the field as well. His tape by no means will excite you, but that is just it. It has been simple with McKinstry, teams don't throw his way. He does his job and mirrors receivers. One could argue his floor is probably the highest of the group because he has no "glaring weaknesses". There is room for growth in the little things like footwork, but he will be a pro's pro.

Strengths: Bump and run. Zone awareness. Versatile. Scheme friendly. Length and height.

Question Mark: Potential Double move liability, needs work against stacking.

2024 Top 10 Cornerbacks
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5. T.J. Tampa: Iowa State

T.J. Tampa might be my favorite corner prospect of them all. He is hard to miss with a whopping 6-foot-2-inch and 200-pound frame. He's big, he's fast, and he hits very hard. He is expected to be in the mid-4.4's with his 40 time so his speed checks out. His tape might be the most enjoyable to watch of anyone. He puts a variety of different things on tape, from following those speedy BIG-12 receivers in man coverage to jumping routes in zone coverage and absolutely leveling people with big hits. He logged 44 tackles this season along with 6 PBUs and 2 INTs. When targeted, he gave up a solid QBR of 54.8.

Strengths: Size. Speed. Physicality. Scheme versatile. Can run both man and zone well. Solid tackler.

Question Marks: Fails to wrap up at times looking for a big hit. Pad level can be off for a change of direction. Transition fluidity (hips).


6. Quinyon Mitchell: Toledo

Quinyon Mitchell is an interesting prospect due to the level of competition. Playing in the MAC is a concern, however, plenty of great talent has come from this conference, including Las Vegas Raider's elite edge rusher Maxx Crosby. Mitchell may be the fastest corner I have listed so far and has the size at 6-foot, 200 pounds to use his zone ball hawk abilities to transition to safety if he needs to. In 2022, Mitchell put together an incredible game against Northern Illinois by grabbing 4 interceptions. That season, his passer rating allowed was a whopping 34.8, so the upside is through the roof here. With that being said, I think at worst Mitchell is a really good zone safety. His man coverage ability does raise concern, especially with double moves. There was a clip of Roman Wilson at the Senior Bowl going viral of him making a one-hand snag in a one-on-one rep. What I took from that was how he separated from Quinyon, which could be a lack of effort on Quinyon's part. Below I will attach that rep.

Strengths: Cover 2/3 instincts, Ball hawk, playmaker, potential 4.3 speed.

Question Marks: Can he handle man coverage in the NFL?


7. Khyree Jackson: Oregon

An Oregon Duck has found his way into my top ten. Khyree Jackson is raising a ton of intrigue as of late by a lot of scouts due to his combination of size, speed, and great tape. Jackson started at Alabama when he was recruited by the legendary Nick Saban. That ended up quickly falling apart after one season. He transferred to Oregon for the 2023 season, playing in 12 games. In total, he has only 25 games played in three full seasons at Alabama and Oregon. The knock here is experience, but what you see when he stands in front of you and on tape is undeniable. Jackson has a Sauce Gardner-like build and potential. Jackson is the tallest corner that I've listed thus far at a whopping 6-foot-3-inches and also has 32-inch arms. He is expected to run a sub 4.45 40 time as well. This year Jackson logged 26 tackles, 8 PBUs, 3 INTs, 2 sacks, and a QBR when thrown against of an elite 41.6. He has incredible man coverage ability, with some room to grow in zone coverage, given he is a raw prospect. But again, checking that box of being good in man coverage is a huge plus for the NFL.

Strengths: blows up screens/short passes. The length/size/speed combo is elite. Ball skills are wide receiver-like.

Question Marks: Good in man coverage but can improve in press. Can give too much cushion in off-coverage. Effort in the run game is hit or miss.


8. Kamari Lassiter: Georgia

Kamari Lassiter is a prospect that is flying under the radar, but it is hard to miss any successful defensive back from the University of Georgia. Lassiter doesn't necessarily have the most eye-popping tape when it comes to PBU's. However, he played the position well and is known for his serious physicality. Lassiter may be one of the top 2 two in this class when it comes to stopping the run as well. He has a natural 6-foot frame and sits at 180 pounds. Do not let the weight fool you, he makes up for that with his hit power and you have to imagine he will put on some muscle mass in the NFL.

Strengths: Physicality. Length. Willingness to stop the run. Big hitter.

Question Marks: Top Speed may be an issue. Physicality is at risk of drawing flags on Sundays. Will need help with footwork and backpedal.


9. Mike Sainristil: Michigan

Mike Sainristil is the epitome of an ideal nickel corner. He will remind you of guys like Mike Hilton and Desmond King. Sainristil does lack in size, standing at 5-foot-10-inches, but he makes all the right plays and is always around the ball. If utilized correctly, he will be a menace for offenses to deal with near the box and behind the line of scrimmage. Sainristil logged 19 tackles, 10 pressures, and 2 sacks as a slot corner last season. In pass coverage, he added 6 PBUs and 5 INTs. His QBR when targeted was a modest 66.0. He also checks the box of speed, as most would be shocked to see anything in the 4.5s.

Strengths: Finds the ball. Fluid hips. Explodes out of the back pedal. Menace as a blitzer and run defender. Route recognition is elite.

Question Marks: Lacks in press coverage. Size (5-foot-10-inches/185 pounds) will be an issue if put on the boundary.


10: Kamal Hadden: Tennessee

Kamal Hadden is a player a lot of casual fans may not know about. He's not in most current website's top 10, which I may disagree with. However, after reviewing his tape and checking his intangibles, he might be my diamond in the rough. Hadden checks the box of size at 6-feet-1-inch and roughly 200 pounds. He is expected to run near a 4.42 like he did in high school, so he also has the speed box checked off. Hadden may have gotten written off early due to a bad freshman year, however, he improved drastically on a year-to-year basis. In 2022, he lowered his QBR when targeted from 90.2 to a modest 69.7. Eventually, in 2023, he logged an absolutely insane QBR, when thrown against, of 7.0! Although he went down early with injury this season, it is still impressive. He added 18 tackles, 6 PBUs, and 3 INTs this season. Almost every stat he had drastically improved from his freshman year.

Strengths: Red zone coverage. Ball Skills. Flips hips well. Big hitter. Instinctive in Zone.

Question Marks: Can get beat over the top too often. May draw flags with play style.


Dawg Wrap up! (2024 Top 10 Cornerbacks)

I want to remind everyone that the process is still very early, and subject to change in the coming two months until the NFL draft. You never know what you may find during the scouting process that can either skyrocket or plummet a player's draft stock. Some of the corners that a lot of people have their eyes on may not have been mentioned in this piece, and that is by no means a knock on them. This cornerback class is deep! Here are some of my honorable mentions: Max Melton, Dwight Mcglothern, Caelen Carson, Cam Hart, Josh Newton, Ennis Rakestraw Jr, Jarvis Brownlee Jr, and Kalen King


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