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The Best Cornerback In The 2024 NFL Draft Class

By Peter Andrisani (The Mock Draft Guy)


At the beginning of this college football season, I have to say, I was pretty underwhelmed with the talent at the cornerback position. But the more I watch some of these guys, I realize, it’s a pretty deep class. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled with some All-Pro-worthy talent at the top of the class the last few seasons, and it skewed my vision. One Corner has skyrocketed his draft stock throughout some fantastic play this season, and that would be Alabama Crimson Tides, Terrion Arnold. 


STRENGTHS


The first thing that pops off the screen at you about Terrion Arnold is his impressive physical Profile. Arnold stands at six feet even and weighs around 200 pounds, he also boasts some impressive 4.51 speed. Arnold put together a terrific 2023 Season. 63 total tackles, with six and a half for a loss, five interceptions, 12 pass deflections, and a 60.5 passer rating when targeted, truly a phenomenal season. 


Arnold can quickly identify the ball in zone, and drive to attack the receiver; he’s undercut a bunch of throws that most corners really can’t even consider trying to reach. That’s a testament to Arnold’s instincts and natural feel, too, which is impressive since he was recruited as a safety. He’s physical to play the hands of receivers and understands when he needs to attack and high-point to ensure a pass breakup versus when he has the opportunity to poach a turnover. The safety background shows up with Arnold’s tackling. He's a strong perimeter support player, and gets off blocks easily to play on the edge against the run. His open-field tackling ability against receivers is even more notable, and you see him patiently trust his technique, mirror, and wrap up one-on-one.


Arnold Excels in zone coverage, but also is well-versed in press-man as well. He’s ultra-aggressive in zone coverage, with great anticipation on throws, and in press-man, he’s extremely physical. Arnold is adequately long, but plenty dynamic to open or hinge in reactive moments to avoid falling off of the receiver. If pressed up, you see transitional ability along the line of scrimmage to successfully protect vertically. In run support, Arnold is an exception for a cornerback. Arnold uses his short-area explosiveness to pop the ball carrier, with a tackling technique you don’t often find from boundary corners. 


WEAKNESSES


Now Terrion Arnold, like every other draft prospect, comes with his fair share of areas he can improve upon. While Arnold has great overall speed for his size, he lacks that recovery speed that you would ideally like to see from a physical, aggressive jam corner. In the zone, Arnold often waits for the receiver to arrive to him before turning his hips and running with the receiver. 


While Arnold is good at anticipating underneath throws, his play recognition is lacking. His aggressiveness is easy to exploit, as he is susceptible to double moves, and since he lacks elite recovery speed, this can lead to some massive plays down the field. Arnold’s footwork needs some work, especially in his backpedal. His footwork tends to get sloppy, which leads to an awkward and slow transition into breaking on the pass or the receiver. Lastly, while Arnold’s physicality at the line of scrimmage is great, he can sometimes get overly handsy, leading to some unnecessary penalties. 


SCHEME FIT


In terms of a scheme Fit for Terrion Arnold, Due to his proficiency in zone coverage, and his experience in Nick Saban’s Cover seven scheme, I would say Arnold would best fit in a zone-heavy scheme, with some press-man tendencies, due to his athletic ability and overall aggressiveness. 


TEAM FITS


Here are five teams that I believe could target Terrion Arnold in the 2024 NFL Draft:


The Buffalo Bills. Although Buffalo will have Tre'Davious White returning next year, the former top cornerback is coming off a torn Achilles, a year after tearing his ACL so there are question marks on if he will be able to return to the level he was playing at.


The Carolina Panthers. Carolina has Jaycee Horn, one of the best in the league. But he has struggled to stay on the field, playing only five games this season, with question marks all over the defense, the Panthers can solidify their secondary. 


The Detroit Lions. The Lions' secondary has been a big-time issue, more specifically on deep throws down the field. The Lions need a take-charge type of corner, who could go up against opposing #1 wide receivers. 


The Green Bay Packers. The Packers traded away cornerback Rasul Douglas to the Buffalo Bills who has been phenomenal. Jaire Alexander, meanwhile, has struggled, and his future with the Packers is up in the air, which is why Terrion Arnold would be a logical fit.


Finally, The Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles' secondary has been pretty putrid in the second half of the season, With 2 corners showing their age, it’s about time Howie spends a high pick on a corner. 


NFL PRO COMPARISON


My Pro comparison for Terrion Arnold is Nate Hobbs. Hobbs are Arnold are nearly identical in height and weight, with one pound separating the two, & nearly identical in speed, where Arnold has reported 4.51 speed, and Hobbs ran a 4.48 on his pro day. Both players have a similar playing style, where they are ultra-aggressive and excel in zone coverages. On top of that, Hobbs also excels in press man, which Arnold is strong in. Have we ever seen Nate Hobbs and Terrion Arnold in the same room…


DRAFT PROJECTION


Overall, Terrion Arnold entered the 2023 season with the goods, but a lot of question marks. I think it’s safe to say he has answered many of them. He's played outstanding football in a defense that offers a slew of concepts that are equal in difficulty to what he’ll be charged with at the professional level. His astounding growth paired with an NFL-ready frame and fluidity in coverage project easily to the next level, which is why I think Terrion Arnold will be a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.



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