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2024 Combine preview: Cornerback

This year's class of cornerbacks is a good group with top-end talent and depth. Cornerback-needy teams will find really good starting-caliber cornerbacks well into Day 2 of this year's NFL Draft.

There are seven cornerbacks among draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's initial list of the Top 50 players in this class.

The Lions certainly have a need at cornerback as they look to improve the talent level and competition in that room this offseason. Veteran Cam Sutton played pretty well most of the season but struggled a bit down the stretch when matched up with some of the game's top receivers. Brian Branch had a terrific rookie season and is cemented in the slot. Kindle Vildor was Detroit's No. 2 cornerback the second half of the season and in the playoffs but he's a free agent, and so is Emmanuel Moseley, who tore an ACL in his only game played with the Lions this season.

Detroit should be on the lookout for a starter opposite Sutton and to improve their depth in that room.

Top 5 cornerbacks to watch at the Combine:

1. Terrion Arnold, Alabama, 6-0, 196

A terrific man-cover corner with good athletic traits and ball production. Teams will like his ability to play both outside and inside at this level. He's a very good tackler and the ball production really stands out – five interceptions and 12 passes defended in 2023.

View photos of the defensive back prospects who were invited to the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

2. Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo, 6-0, 196

Mitchell plays much bigger because of his strong frame. He's got a nice mix of traits and most analysts who really studied him especially like his off-man presence. He recorded five interceptions in 2022 with two pick-sixes. He's defended an amazing 37 passes the last two seasons combined.

3. Cooper DeJean, Iowa, 6-1, 205

A versatile defender with terrific size, speed, and ball production. He had five interceptions and three pick-sixes in 2022. DeJean also has the size, instincts and tackling ability to potentially shift over and play some safety. He's a versatile defender in the right scheme.

4. Nate Wiggins, Clemson, 6-2, 185

Teams are going to love the size and cover ability with Wiggins. He's pretty scheme-versatile with his frame and skillset. He'll have to prove to teams he can be more physical in the run game, however.

5. Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Missouri, 6-0, 188

He only intercepted one pass in college, which could be a concern for some teams, but he is very sticky in coverage. He plays with high energy and is physical supporting the run.

Combine sleeper to watch: Mike Sainristil, Michigan, 5-10, 182

Sainristil is a little undersized, but he plays much bigger than his frame. The former-receiver-turned-cornerback has terrific hands and recorded six interceptions for the Wolverines in their National Championship run in 2023. He's an experienced player with a really high ceiling.

Lions' need at the position: High

Detroit's top two cornerbacks, Branch and Sutton, return in 2024, but Moseley, Vildor, Jerry Jacobs, Will Harris and Khalil Dorsey will be heading toward various forms of free agency.

Detroit finished the season 23rd in points allowed, 19th in total defense and 27th against the pass. They were No. 2 against the run, however, and any cornerback they add will have to be strong in that department. The Lions defense allowed the fourth most passing yards in the NFL this season and were 31st in yards per attempt and yards per completion allowed.

Key stat: The Lions allowed the most 20-plus-yard completions in the NFL this season (69).

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