2024 NFL draft prospect rankings: Cornerbacks

Eddie Brown, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Football

Editor's note: The Union-Tribune's Eddie Brown is breaking down prospects, position by position, leading up to the NFL draft (April 25-27). Here are his top 10 cornerbacks, plus "bonus" players he believes will be drafted or signed as a priority free agent:


— 1. Cooper DeJean (Jr., Iowa, 6-foot, 202 pounds)

The former four-star recruit lettered in football, baseball, basketball and track, quarterbacking his high school to back-to-back undefeated state titles (the only ones in school history) while personally winning state championships in the 100 meters and long jump his senior year. DeJean was No. 14 on Bruce Feldman's 2023 "Freaks List." He's a highly competitive defensive back capable of thriving at cornerback, nickel or even safety. He's reliable against the run and his ball skills are top-tier — he allowed only one catch of 15-plus yards in 2023. He returned three of his seven career interceptions for touchdowns while averaging 13.1 yards per punt return, including a game-winning 70-yard TD against Michigan State last September. He controversially had a 54-yard punt-return TD called back with under two minutes remaining against Minnesota a month later. DeJean has been sidelined for most of the draft process after suffering a broken fibula while practicing with the Hawkeyes' offense in November, which explains why it feels like he's been flying under the radar. Projected: Round 1

— 2. Nate Wiggins (Jr., Clemson, 6-1, 173)

Wiggins might need to add some strength to his slender frame — he gets pushed around against the run — but it's rare a reception he allows includes yards after the catch. The first-team All-ACC corner features elite ball skills, allowing only one catch of 20-plus yards on 41 targets in 2023. Wiggins is a top-tier athlete with rare recovery speed, and is capable of thriving in man or zone coverage. He sustained a hip flexor strain during his first and only 40-yard dash attempt at the combine and still managed to run 4.28. Projected: Round 1


— 3. Terrion Arnold (So., Alabama, 5-11, 189)

Arnold was prepared to quit football to focus on basketball, but Charlie Ward, Heisman Trophy winner, longtime NBA guard and Arnold's head basketball coach in high school, convinced him otherwise. Based on upside, he could be the top cornerback on most draft boards. He's relatively inexperienced — he was the No. 3 safety in the 2021 recruiting class — but he's been one of the better run defenders at the position and has proven a quick-study in coverage. Arnold is scheme-versatile, and produced a SEC-best 17 passes defensed and five interceptions in 2023. He was the only FBS player with at least five interceptions and 12-plus pass breakups. Projected: Round 1

— 4. Quinyon Mitchell (Jr., Toledo, 6-0, 195)

Mitchell features elite speed and prototypical size for the position. He's a proven ball-hawk who can play on an island and wins with top-tier athleticism and physicality. He produced 44 pass breakups, six interceptions and two pick-sixes the past two seasons. Some teams might hold his lack of experience in press coverage against him, or the lower-level competition in the MAC, but he was clearly the best cornerback in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. Projected: Round 1


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