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2024 NFL Draft: Ranking Our Top Graded Cornerbacks Led by Quinyon Mitchell - Evaluating Playstyle and Scheme Fit

The 2024 NFL Draft cornerback class is another deep, talent-rich group of draft prospects. Leading the way, according to our NFL Draft player grades, are Toledo's Quinyon Mitchell and Iowa's Cooper DeJean.



In today's NFL, where the game has evolved into a pass-first league, identifying elite cover corners has become crucial. Building an elite secondary can be as important as building an elite defensive pass rush. In recent years, we have seen defensive coordinators play from the backend up, relying less on a traditional pass rush and more on solid coverage skills.


The need for elite cover corners extends beyond just the outside positions. Incorporating a solid nickel corner, crucial in a league that consistently plays with five defensive backs, is equally important. Depending on a defensive coordinator's approach, the type of nickel corner can greatly influence defensive schemes.


In this analysis, I breakdown the top-graded cornerbacks by their play style and scheme fit. Below, each player type is defined to clarify why they are categorized in this manner.


Versatile Corner

Versatile Corners are adaptable, shifting between multiple defensive roles including outside, nickel, and sometimes safety. They excel in both man and zone coverages and are pivotal for teams that need flexibility to adjust their defensive schemes rapidly based on the offensive setup. Skills required include quick adaptation to various coverage situations and proficiency against different types of receivers.


Boundary Corner

Boundary Corners operate on the shorter side of the field and utilize the sideline as an additional defender. This role is characterized by physicality and the ability to perform tight, precise coverage. Quick adjustments and control over limited space are crucial, often against the opponent’s best receivers.


Field Corner

Field Corners cover the side of the field with more open space, necessitating significant speed and agility. This role involves managing larger areas and excelling in isolated coverage scenarios, making superior open-field tackling and spatial management essential.


Nickel Corner

Nickel Corners function within the nickel package, predominantly covering the slot receiver close to the offensive line. This position demands a blend of agility and robust tackling skills to effectively support both pass coverage and run defense in traffic-heavy areas near the line of scrimmage.


Top Versatile Corners in the 2024 NFL Draft

Versatile corners can play multiple positions effectively, adapting to various secondary roles as needed.

1). Quinyon Mitchell - Toledo Rockets
  • Height/Weight: 6'0", 196 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Near Elite

  • NFL Draft Projection: 1st Round, Top 15 Overall

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: A, Run Defense: C+, Man Coverage: B+, Zone Coverage: B

  • Snaps by Alignment (for All Years): LOS: 22, Nickel: 109, Wide: 1958, Box: 122, Deep: 38

  • Projected NFL Position: Versatile (Outside Man/Zone Corner, with the versatility to play as an Inside Nickel corner)

  • Summary: Mitchell’s adaptability in both man and zone coverages highlights his ability to perform effectively outside or as a nickel corner, reflecting his versatility.


2). Cooper DeJean - Iowa Hawkeyes
  • Height/Weight: 6'1", 210 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Near Elite

  • NFL Draft Projection: 1st Round, Top 15 Overall

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: B+, Run Defense: B, Man Coverage: D, Zone Coverage: B+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 58, Nickel: 163, Wide: 1192, Box: 116, Deep: 1

  • Projected NFL Position: Versatile (Outside Zone/Man Corner, with the versatility to play as an Inside Nickel corner or Field Safety)

  • Summary: DeJean's strong zone and spatial management skills, combined with his ability to function in various roles, underscore his versatility.


3). Nate Wiggins - Clemson Tigers
  • Height/Weight: 6'2", 185 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Near Elite

  • NFL Draft Projection: 1st Round, Top 15 Overall

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: A-, Run Defense: D, Man Coverage: B+, Zone Coverage: B

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 27, Nickel: 19, Wide: 1264, Box: 81, Deep: 2

  • Projected NFL Position: Versatile (effective in both field and boundary roles)

  • Summary: Wiggins showcases impressive speed and agility, allowing him to excel in multiple cornerback roles across the field.


4). Terrion Arnold - Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Height/Weight: 6'0", 196 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 1st Round, Top 20 Overall

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: B+, Run Defense: A, Man Coverage: C+, Zone Coverage: B+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 3, Nickel: 216, Wide: 1058, Box: 103, Deep: 7

  • Projected NFL Position: Versatile (Press Man/Outside Zone Corner)

  • Summary: Arnold's physicality and press-man capabilities combined with his run support make him versatile for both press and zone alignments.


5). Cam Hart - Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  • Height/Weight: 6'3", 202 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: B+, Run Defense: C, Man Coverage: B, Zone Coverage: C+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 9, Nickel: 75, Wide: 1735, Box: 55, Deep: 4

  • Projected NFL Position: Versatile (able to handle various roles, potentially even nickel in specific schemes)

  • Summary: Hart's robust build and skill set enable him to perform effectively in both man and zone coverages, showcasing his versatility.


6). Max Melton - Rutgers Scarlet Knights
  • Height/Weight: 5'11", 187 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: C, Run Defense: D+, Man Coverage: D, Zone Coverage: C+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 27, Nickel: 103, Wide: 1445, Box: 104, Deep: 2

  • Projected NFL Position: Versatile (Physicality and speed suggest a good fit for press and zone coverage from the nickel position)

  • Summary: Melton's ability to perform in both man and zone coverages provides flexibility in how he can be utilized in a defense, making him adaptable to different schemes.


7). Kalen King - Penn State Nittany Lions
  • Height/Weight: 5'11", 190 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 4th Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: F, Run Defense: B, Man Coverage: F, Zone Coverage: D+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 19, Nickel: 34, Wide: 1114, Box: 133, Deep: 17

  • Projected NFL Position: Versatile (Mainly a man/press corner but might fit the boundary or nickel in certain defensive setups depending on his development in agility and coverage)

  • Summary: King's aggressive man coverage approach and physical play style are suited to a close, up-front defensive approach, where his skills can disrupt the opposition's timing.


Top Boundary Corners in the 2024 NFL Draft

Boundary Corners must be physical, have excellent press coverage skills, and possess the ability to make quick decisions in tighter spaces.

1). Ennis Rakestraw Jr. - Missouri Tigers
  • Height/Weight: 6'0", 187 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: B, Run Defense: A-, Man Coverage: F, Zone Coverage: B+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 12, Nickel: 233, Wide: 1056, Box: 87, Deep: 17

  • Projected NFL Position: Ideal for boundary due to his strong man coverage skills and physicality.

  • Summary: Rakestraw excels in tight, physical man coverage, making him a perfect fit for the boundary where his aggressive play and quick adjustments can control opposing receivers effectively.


2). Khyree Jackson - Oregon Ducks
  • Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: C+, Run Defense: B+, Man Coverage: C+, Zone Coverage: C

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 1, Nickel: 24, Wide: 643, Box: 47, Deep: 2

  • Projected NFL Position: Physical press coverage at the line of scrimmage aligns with boundary corner requirements.

  • Summary: Jackson's height and physicality in press situations make him well-suited for the boundary, where he can utilize the sideline as a natural barrier and his press skills to disrupt routes at the line of scrimmage.


3). Renardo Green - Florida State Seminoles
  • Height/Weight: 6'0", 186 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 4th Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: A-, Run Defense: D, Man Coverage: A, Zone Coverage: D+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 22, Nickel: 181, Wide: 1122, Box: 108, Deep: 110

  • Projected NFL Position: Physical and aggressive style suitable for press-man at the boundary.

  • Summary: Green's aggressive and physical style, combined with excellent man coverage skills, make him a formidable boundary corner, adept at one-on-one matchups and using the sideline to his advantage.


4.) Kamari Lassiter - Georgia Bulldogs
  • Height/Weight: 6'0", 180 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: B, Run Defense: C+, Man Coverage: B, Zone Coverage: C

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 4, Nickel: 75, Wide: 1506, Box: 99, Deep: 1

  • Projected NFL Position: His man and zone abilities, combined with solid tackling, fit the boundary role.

  • Summary: Lassiter's balanced skills in man and zone coverages make him a versatile defender on the boundary, capable of handling tight spaces and physical matchups effectively.


5). Dwight McGlothern - Arkansas Razorbacks
  • Height/Weight: 6'2", 188 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Low-Level Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: A, Run Defense: D+, Man Coverage: B, Zone Coverage: A

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 52, Nickel: 31, Wide: 1645, Box: 102, Deep: 9

  • Projected NFL Position: His ability to perform in press and man coverages, combined with physical attributes, aligns well with the boundary corner role.

  • Summary: McGlothern's impressive coverage skills and physicality at the line make him an ideal boundary corner, where he can effectively use press techniques to dominate on shorter sides of the field.


6). Caelen Carson - Wake Forest Demon Deacons
  • Height/Weight: 6'0", 195 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Low-Level Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: C+, Run Defense: A, Man Coverage: F, Zone Coverage: D+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 7, Nickel: 98, Wide: 1289, Box: 108, Deep: 3

  • Projected NFL Position: Noted for strong press and man coverage abilities, ideal for the physical challenges of boundary corner.

  • Summary: Carson's strong press and man coverage skills make him particularly effective on the boundary, where physical play and tight coverage are paramount.


Top Field Corners in the 2024 NFL Draft

Field Corners must excel in speed, agility, and open-field tackling and are typically more involved in zone coverage, given the larger areas they must defend.

1). Kool-Aid McKinstry - Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Height/Weight: 6'1", 195 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Near Elite

  • NFL Draft Projection: 1st Round, Top 20

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: A, Run Defense: B, Man Coverage: B, Zone Coverage: A-

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 14, Nickel: 28, Wide: 1981, Box: 168, Deep: 4

  • Projected NFL Position: With exceptional zone coverage skills and the ability to read the quarterback effectively, he is ideal for field corner roles.

  • Summary: McKinstry excels in zone coverage, making him well-suited for the field corner position where covering larger areas and handling isolated situations are key. His ability to disrupt passing lanes and anticipate plays enhances his effectiveness in this role.


2). T.J. Tampa - Iowa State Cyclones
  • Height/Weight: 6'2", 200 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: C+, Run Defense: D, Man Coverage: D, Zone Coverage: B

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 129, Nickel: 22, Wide: 1377, Box: 160, Deep: 4

  • Projected NFL Position: His physical attributes and ability in zone coverage make him suitable for covering large areas.

  • Summary: T.J. Tampa's stature and skills in zone coverage are ideal for the field corner role, where his ability to manage space and react to plays from a distance can be maximally utilized.


3). Josh Newton - TCU Horned Frogs
  • Height/Weight: 6'0", 190 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: C+, Run Defense: C, Man Coverage: B, Zone Coverage: F

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 10, Nickel: 103, Wide: 2038, Box: 281, Deep: 5

  • Projected NFL Position: Newton’s physical attributes suggest potential in the field corner role; despite a lower zone coverage grade, he could develop with the right coaching and scheme.

  • Summary: Newton's ability to cover large areas and his athleticism make him a candidate for the field corner role, where he can leverage his physical skills and coverage abilities in open spaces.


Top Nickel Corners in the 2024 NFL Draft

Nickel Corners must handle the demands of slot coverage, showing quick reflexes, excellent tackling, and the ability to cover quick slot receivers.

1). Mike Sainristil - Michigan Wolverines
  • Height/Weight: 5'11", 180 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: Late 1st Round, Early 2nd Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: A, Run Defense: B, Man Coverage: B+, Zone Coverage: B+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 50, Nickel: 985, Wide: 178, Box: 150, Deep: 9

  • Projected NFL Position: Highly effective against slot receivers and proficient in nickel and press coverage.

  • Summary: Sainristil excels in the nickel role, showcasing agility and quickness crucial for handling slot receivers. His experience and skills make him particularly effective in close-quarters coverage and rapid play adaptations.


2). Jarrian Jones - Florida State Seminoles
  • Height/Weight: 6'0", 191 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: High-End Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd-4th Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: B+, Run Defense: C+, Man Coverage: A, Zone Coverage: D+

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 7, Nickel: 394, Wide: 777, Box: 38, Deep: 2

  • Projected NFL Position: Great versatility and effectiveness as a nickel corner.

  • Summary: Jones' versatility shines in the nickel position, where his skills in man coverage and quick reactions allow him to excel in defending against slot receivers and participating in run support.


3). Andru Phillips - Kentucky Wildcats
  • Height/Weight: 6'0", 187 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: C+, Run Defense: D+, Man Coverage: F, Zone Coverage: B-

  • Snaps by Alignment (All Years): LOS: 22, Nickel: 415, Wide: 542, Box: 109, Deep: 6

  • Projected NFL Position: His athleticism and solid speed make him well-suited for the nickel role.

  • Summary: Phillips is adept at navigating through traffic and covering slot receivers, making him a reliable nickel corner. His quick reflexes and solid zone coverage skills help him excel in both pass defense and run support.


4). Kris Abrams-Draine - Missouri Tigers
  • Height/Weight: 5'11", 178 lbs

  • Ceiling Grade: Mid-Level Starter Potential

  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round

  • Performance Grades: Coverage: A, Run Defense: F, Man Coverage: B, Zone Coverage: B

  • Snaps by Alignment (Years): LOS: 14, Nickel: 502, Wide: 1401, Box: 174, Deep: 35

  • Projected NFL Position: Athleticism and skill in both man and zone coverages suit the nickel role.

  • Summary: Abrams-Draine's athleticism and versatility make him adept at playing in the nickel position, where his ability to cover both in the slot and on the boundary is a significant asset. His performance in man and zone coverages ensures he can handle diverse coverage tasks, making him highly adaptable and valuable for schemes requiring flexibility from their defensive backs.


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