Damon Arnette's senior season paid off

Brady Pfister

Damon Arnette stayed in school. And it paid off.

The former Ohio State corner played opposite of current Falcon defensive back Kendall Sheffield in Columbus during the 2018 season and put up a solid, yet inconsistent junior season.

On the brink of entering the NFL Draft and forego his final year of eligibility, Arnette received a phone call.

Hall of Fame receiver, and former Buckeye, Cris Carter was on the other end with a simple message: Stick around.

“He said, ‘Man, I don’t care what your NFL grade was, you’re not no All-American,’” Arnette told Dan Hope of Eleven Warriors. “He said that as I was on my way to Columbus to get the rest of my things to leave, and that just weighed really heavy on my heart, and he was right.”

So Arnette made a last minute, surprising decision to use his final year of eligibility and play out his senior season.

Turns out, Carter had a point.

According to Pro Football Focus, Arnette allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 67.4 percent of their passes against him in 2018. In 2019, he shaved that down to 45.1% of balls thrown his way for only 279 yards.

Though former teammate Jeff Okudah rightfully receives media buzz as the next great corner to come out of Ohio State, Arnette’s return to the Scarlet and Grey proved pivotal for the eventual Big Ten Champions-- the senior collected 35 tackles, eight pass break-ups and an interception for a touchdown on his way to earning second-team All Big Ten accolades.

At the next level, the best asset that the Florida-native Arnette has at his disposal is good size, checking in at 6-foot and 195 pounds with the ability to cover receivers both in the slot and on the outside. He uses his frame to not only fly up in run support, but also possesses violent hands in press coverage.

The knock against Arnette is that he benefitted at Ohio State from playing in the shadow of other great defenders, including edge rusher Chase Young. His raw speed doesn’t blow anyone away, either--Arnette ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, leading some scouts to believe he is best-suited as a zone cornerback in the NFL.

According to NFL.com, Arnette has the potential to be a solid backup with the upside of a starter in the professional ranks. He could be a player the Falcons target on the second day of the draft, especially if they choose to address the pass-rush or linebacker early on.

With the recent additions of Dante Fowler Jr., Todd Gurley and Hayden Hurst, Atlanta’s focus now shifts towards defensive back in the draft. Arnette could be a prime candidate to fill this need. 

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