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Lions draft cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

The Detroit Lions aren't messing around when it comes to improving the league's 27th ranked passing defense.

After trading up to select Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night, Lions general manager Brad Holmes doubled up at cornerback in the second round by taking Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. with the 61st overall selection.

Holmes said Rakestraw was the No. 2 cornerback on Detroit's board after Arnold. He tried to move up into the late 30s and early 40s when he saw Rakestraw was falling. Holmes didn't get any takers, so he waited and still got his guy.

Arnold and Rakestraw took their pre-draft visits to Detroit together ahead of the draft.

"Going to Terrion, we talked about the personality and just big energy and big personality very, very confident," Holmes said of the visits. "Ennis is actually different. You feel the confidence in him. Me and Dan (Campbell) talking to him, I kind of felt dog exuding out of him.

"Terrion and Ennis both of them you really felt like, 'OK, these guys fit what we're about and these guys fit our culture. But it was something about Ennis, just the competitiveness, the drive, how he talked about his story, how he talked about his process, how he talked about the details of how he came out of high school in Texas and just the whole recruiting process and when he got to Missouri and his whole thing about the receivers he's been against."

Holmes said he came away thinking Rakestraw was one of the most competitive players he's come across in the process and his tape showed the same thing.

Rakestraw plays the cornerback position with a physicality and toughness Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn expects from the position. He's hard-nosed in press coverage and sticky in man coverage, and will come up and support the run.

"I call myself the tone setter," Rakestraw said via Zoom after the selection. "Our defense used to call me the firecracker of the team because yeah I'm a corner, but I'll come up and set that edge and hit you like a linebacker and I like my presence to be felt when I'm out there."

A three-year starter at Missouri, Rakestraw played left CB, right CB and some slot in both man and zone schemes.

Rakestraw, (5-11, 183) had moderate ball production (16 passes defended and one interception the last two seasons combined), but he plays physical.

The Lions now have a ton of competition at the cornerback position after trading for Carlton Davis and signing Amik Robertson in free agency. The team also re-signed Emmanuel Moseley and Kindle Vildor, return second-year cornerback Brian Branch, and have some young returning players they like.

"It's a bloodbath in there now," Holmes said of the competition at cornerback expected in training camp. "That's what makes everything better. It makes the room better. It makes the defense better. It makes the team better. Competition just brings the best out of everyone.

"We didn't go into it saying we were going to get two corners in the first two rounds. We really didn't. It's just, (Rakestraw) was the highest rated guy for us at the time. You know how we roll and went ahead and got him."

Holmes said he's been searching for the future at the cornerback position since he got to Detroit in 2021 and it just matched up this year. They now feel really good about the future outlook at the position after the first two days of this draft.

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