As the season has ended, a primary focus of the Detroit Lions should be drafting a trusted cornerback. After trading cornerback Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons in 2023 following three unsuccessful seasons, the Detroit Lions attempted to fill this void by signing Cam Sutton to a three-year, 33,000,000 contract.
Unfortunately, Sutton’s lack of coverage was a leading proponent in the Lion’s inevitable 31-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. It is unclear whether Sutton will be returning next season following their efforts this past season.
Here are four possible corners the Lions may pick during the 2024 NFL Draft.
Breaking Down Potential New Lions Cornerbacks
1. Eenis Rackstraw, Jr. (Missouri)
The three-star, 6’0, 187-pound recruit out of the University of Missouri has been projected to possibly land in Detroit’s hands. Totaling 35 tackles, including 24 solo tackles, 11 assists, four defended passes, and one forced fumble in his 2023 season, Rackstraw would be a force to be reckoned with on Detroit’s defensive line.
His scouting report detailed several positives of his way of playing. His smooth hip movements make it easy for him to turn and run; he possesses solid lateral movement, integral when mirroring receivers at the line of scrimmage. Rackstraw’s versatility allows him to adjust to both man and zone coverage and he is not afraid to tackle, primarily focusing on hitting the thigh pad to bring receivers down by the legs.
Along with the many positives, the report does account for a few negatives. Being seven pounds below an NFL corner’s average weight, Rackstraw possesses a thinner frame. This has led him to lack some functional strength and face difficulty getting through bigger receivers at the point of catching and blockers in the open field.
One massive problem within the Lions way of playing is their tendency to rack up several penalties, and drafting Rackshaw may only expand this problem. Rackshaw uses his hands downfield, grabbing, and holding, ultimately leading to many calls for pass interference.
2. Nate Wiggins (Clemson)
The four-star, 6’2, and 185-pound corner out of Clemson has also possibly been projected to land in the Detroit Lions’ hands. Wiggins totaled 28 tackles, including 22 solo tackles, six assists, and two forced fumbles during his 2023 season. Wiggins’s patience proved a considerable selling factor, allowing him to stay composed in press coverage. His awareness within zone coverage is also a huge plus, allowing him to read the quarterback’s eyes and jump routes.
Yet, Wiggins has proven to be lazy occasionally, playing with high pad levels, often leading him to break or transition slowly during the play. Wiggins does not possess the same eagerness as other potential cornerbacks when it comes to being physical, as he rarely commits when blocking or tackling.
3. Cooper Dejean (Iowa)
Dejean stands at an impressive 6’1 and 207 pounds. The corner out of the University of Iowa accumulated 120 total tackles, five tackles for loss, 13 passes defended, and seven interceptions. One of Dejean’s strengths is his ability to move effectively, having both a smooth backpedal and quick hips.
Unfortunately, Dejean’s frame and lack of speed could get in his way when moving laterally. Unfortunately for Dejean, this would mean not being able to compete with some of the league’s faster receivers.
4. Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama)
Kool-Aid McKinstry, the cornerback of the University of Alabama, stands at an astonishing 6’1 and 195 pounds. During his 2023 season, he accomplished 32 total tackles, 24 solo tackles, and eight assisted tackles. McKinstry possesses several strengths, such as long strides and fast speed, allowing him to keep up with receivers, good vision and recognition of routes, willingness to tackle, and strength in both man and zone coverage.
Along with these positives come negatives. McKinstry lacks some strength, having a difficult time occasionally disengaging from blocks. He can also be inconsistent with tackling, not always being able to tackle the ball carrier. McKinstry also has difficulty getting into different phases and locating the ball while it is in play.
It has been quite evident this past year with Sutton’s performance, that he is not the Lions’ CB1 and possibly not even CB2. This is why the Detroit Lions must draft one of these four prospects during the 2024 NFL draft. Without a strong corner to rely on, Detroit cannot blitz or defend against plays run by the opposing team’s offense.
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