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Sports Watch: The best corners in the NFL draft

This Thursday the NFL draft will start at 8 p.m., so it’s time to look at one last position group before we know where everyone will be drafted. In order to compete in the league today, a team needs to have a shutdown cornerback that can take away the other team's best receiving threat, but these types of players are few and far between. Many cornerback-needy teams will be looking to find their missing piece for their secondary in the first round -- but who are these players?

It is clear who the top two corners are in this year's draft, one being Quinyon Mitchell of Toledo. Over the past two seasons, no cornerback in all of college football has more pass breakups than Mitchell with an astounding 37. Mitchell excels the most in off coverage, where he can play eight to 10 yards off of his opponent and make up the ground with his extreme football IQ and speed. 

Mitchell’s speed is something that makes him stand out compared to other corners; he ran a 4.33 second 40 yard dash which was not only the fastest for a corner in this draft but the third fastest score at the combine this year. Any worries about experience can be put to rest as he logged 1,664 defensive snaps over the past two years. 

The only concern about Mitchell's games is his inability to play in every system, as Mitchell has struggled in the past with playing press coverage. Assuming Mitchell ends up in the right system, there is no doubt he has both the physical ability and tools to become a standout in the league.

The other top corner of this draft is undoubtedly Alabama’s Terrion Arnold who has the ability to become one of the top outside corners in the league. Arnold is a cornerback who plays on the outside logging 557 snaps there last season, but he does have some ability to play the slot with 216 career snaps there. 

The number that jumps off the page when it comes to Arnold on the field was when targeted he only allowed a 50.7 quarterback rating, which also allowed him to get five interceptions last year. Arnold is the definition of the modern cornerback having solid speed to keep up with the top speedsters in the league while also having the height to cover some of the bigger targets in the league. 

There is skepticism about Arnold's ability to immediately transfer to the league as he has only had one elite season in college which may make general managers want to go with someone more experienced. Arnold would make a magnificent addition as an immediate number two cornerback and has the potential to become a shutdown corner on the outside a couple years from now.

After Arnold and Mitchell, the cornerback position is littered with tons of other options who could help improve teams’ secondaries, but none of those players match up to what Iowa’s Cooper DeJean can give you. 

A player who can be put almost anywhere in the secondary, DeJean demonstrates extreme versatility. This has caused controversy as to whether he should play safety or corner, but when drafting DeJean you're drafting a football mind. DeJean has elite football awareness and IQ and is a player who can both shut down wide receivers and make tackles at the line. 

Similar to the likes of Tyrann Mathieu, DeJean is a physical corner who will attack as much in coverage as he does at the line of scrimmage. DeJean may fall down the board due to sustaining a broken fibula during the season, but if a team is willing to take a flier out on him, he may turn into the steal of the draft.

After these players there are still some viable options at the position such as Arnolds teammate at Alabama, Kool-Aid McKinstry or Missouri's Ennis Rakestraw Jr. who both have similar abilities when it comes to football IQ. This draft class is not as deep when it comes to corners as previous years so prioritizing the position early is something teams looking to improve the secondary must do. 

Jasper Greuel is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note the views expressed in this column do not represent those of The Post. Want to talk to Jasper about his column? email him at

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