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2024 NFL Draft

Bell: Ranking Top Cornerbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft



Pittsburgh Steelers
Clemson CB Nate Wiggins

With just mere days separating us from the start of the 2024 NFL Draft, it’s time to release my cornerback rankings. While this group doesn’t quite feature the star powers that previous classes offered, there’s plenty of talent with a wide range of skill sets to choose from. For context, the top ten players on this list will undoubtedly be top-75 players on my finalized big board. And the Steelers will need someone here.

The Steelers have a clear need at the positon and have already shown interest in several of these players listed below making this even more interesting. Here we go!

1. Terrion Arnold (Alabama) 

Twitched up playmaker with light feet and an impressive ability to mirror the movements of wide receivers. Arnold’s change of direction ability is a real trump card and his short-area burst consistently allows him to zoom into passing lanes. Having just turned 21-years old and still new to the position, he’s far from a finished product but his rapid improvement shows a player that is still very much ascending, with all the necessary qualities to be a top corner in the league.

2. Quinyon Mitchell (Toledo)

Springy ballhawk equipped with rare explosiveness for his size. Mitchell can run like the wind to stay in phase, but his calling card is how he plays the ball in the air with outstanding body control, timing and natural playmaking instincts. He does open the gate early, over-relying on his athleticism but even with a steep jump in competition, his tools provide a limitless ceiling down the line.

3. Nate Wiggins (Clemson)

Confident speed demon that plays every bit as fast as his 4.28 40 time would suggest. Simply put, Wiggins is a special mover at the position with quick feet and loose hips that translate to effortless transitions towards the football. His skinny frame make him a historical outlier but his Ferrari engine make him an intriguing addition for teams looking to counter athletic pass catchers on the perimeter.

4. Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama)

Patient press corners that suffocate receivers along the boundary never go out of style. McKinstry is a natural for the position, highly intelligent with a great feel for anticipating routes. Deep threats can stack him vertically but with nearly three full years of legitimately good tape against the best competition, he seems destined for a CB2 role early on in the NFL.

5. Cooper DeJean (Iowa)

Versatile and hyper-aware defensive back that grades out even better as a safety. DeJean is a plus athlete and cerebral player that thrives in zone coverage when allowed to fixate his vision on the quarterback. On tape, you can tell he’s a bit stiff but his physicality, particularly as a tackler, signify an instant impact player regardless of where he’s deployed on defense.

6. Ennis Rakestraw (Missouri)

Energetic, fluid mover with long arms to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage and once the ball is in flight. Rakestraw is technically sound, displays good eye discipline with an uncanny ability to decelerate in order to blanket curls and comebacks. Top-shelf athletes can run away from him, but the film shows a prospect that has a very good understanding of the position, projecting him as an early starter in the secondary.

7. Renardo Green (Florida State)

Battled tested press specialist who has shown capable of being left on an island versus premier competition. Green is a complete nuance to try to uncover against because of his impressive mirror ability, competitive toughness and physicality. His rigid play style will likely draw more flags at the next level but if you’re a team that wants to crowd receivers at the line, this is who you want.

8. Max Melton (Rutgers)

Frenetic freak with superb straight-line speed to run stride for stride with even the fastest weapons. Melton is alignment versatile, shows urgency when driving on underneath throws, occasionally beating them to the spot altogether. At this point, he’s not overly consistent but rather a moldable ball of clay with starter-level traits to pair with an already established special teams’ acumen.

9. Elijah Jones (Boston College)

Tall, calculated risk taker who is always seeking out the quickest path to find the football. Jones has oily hips which allow him to turn and burn, speed to stay on top of wide receivers and playmaking ability that seems hardwired into his football DNA. As a sixth-year senior and older prospect, there may not be much more to tap into but he looks like someone who can walk in the facility and immediately contribute as a top-three option in a rotation.

10. Kamari Lassiter (Georgia)

Physical by nature, plays through the hands at the catch point and understands how to leverage the sideline for assistance. Lassiter regularly plays up a weight class, is a rock-solid tackler with flashes of being a proficient run defender. There’s a glaring lack of speed in his profile which should facilitate a full-time move inside to the slot where his physicality and short-area movement skills are much better suited.

11. T.J. Tampa (Iowa State)

Tetradactyl-like wingspan helps cause disruption on a routine basis.

12. Mike Sainristill (Michigan)

Fearless competitor with good awareness and a splash of playmaking ability.

13. Decamerion Richardson (Mississippi State)

The ultimate “bet on traits” with exciting highs and rock-bottom lows.

14. Andru Phillips (Kentucky)

Quick and feisty corner equipped with inside/outside versatility.

15. D.J. James (Auburn)

Featherweight with explosive transitions leading to potential pass breakups.