7 Cornerback Prospects That Fit the Lions' Defensive Scheme
As the NFL Draft approaches, the Lions will be narrowing down the list of prospects that fit their scheme and defensive philosophy.
It's well-documented that Detroit head coach Matt Patricia runs a ton of man-to-man defense.
With this style of play, that leads to certain players being better fits than others.
Not that speed isn't important. But, with man-to-man defense, quickness is paramount.
Drills such as the 3-cone drill and the short shuttle are good indicators of a cornerback's ability to change direction -- which is needed when mirroring wide receivers one-on-one.
Unfortunately, it's pretty typical that the best cover corners also go a lot higher in the draft.
Here are five wide cornerback prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft that the Lions could target and that would fit their scheme.
Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Weight: 205 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.48 seconds
Okudah is currently the consensus pick for the Lions in the first round.
Ideally, it would be in a trade-back scenario. However, even as a corner, Okudah's film is good enough to warrant the No. 3 overall selection.
Yes, cornerbacks aren't typically taken in the top three. But, in the last 20 years, seven corners have been selected in picks four through six.
Taking a cornerback at No. 3 that is the best player available isn't much of a reach.
Okudah might not have blazing speed, but his super long arms give him elite length to go along with some of the best feet/hip fluidity to come out of the draft in years.
CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Weight: 204 pounds
40-yard: 4.39 seconds
Henderson is likely only in play for the Lions if they trade back or acquire another pick later in the first round.
If the Lions for some reason don't come away with Okudah at the top of the draft, Henderson is a nice consolation prize.
While excelling in just about any coverage asked of him, he does his best work while in man-press.
He is a top-notch athlete that can stick with any receiver.
Henderson's biggest flaw is his tackling ability.
Patricia is known for liking corners that can play the run, and Henderson might be one of the worst in the class.
Important to note, he did not have a great 2019 season after dealing with a nagging ankle injury. But, he was solid in 2018.
Overall, he has exceptional natural ability that will need to be refined at the next level.
Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
Weight: 193 pounds
40-yard: 4.50 seconds
Johnson is a player that is relatively flying under the radar.
He is a playmaker who didn't allow a passer rating over 58.0 the last three seasons while playing significant snaps.
Yet, while not flashy, Johnson checks off all the boxes: size, athleticism and ball skills.
He is a solid tackler, and plays with a very physical style for a corner.
Likely a Day 2 pick, Johnson is a player that could surprise some as to where he ends up being selected.
Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
Weight: 198 pounds
40-yard: 4.48 seconds
The Lions showed interest in Igbinoghene at the combine.
He could have to be selected in the second round. However, after being below average in height and failing to live up to expectations as an elite athlete, there is a chance he could fall to the third.
Even though Igbinoghene is listed at 5-foot-10, his long arms give him more length than his height would indicate.
As a developing 20-year old, there is still a lot to like for the Lions.
He played the second-most man-press snaps in 2019 of the entire draft class, and is very physical -- maybe even too physical for NFL rules.
Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Weight: 195 pounds
40-yard: 4.56 seconds
Much like Okudah, Arnette comes from a scheme that runs plenty of man coverage.
Despite having decent size, he has very short arms -- which is typically why teams like taller players.
Given that Arnette is only considered a mid-round prospect, the Lions might be able to overlook that flaw.
Arnette declined to run the agility drills at the combine, which also raises some questions about his change-of-direction ability.
Gauging by the film, Arnette has some pretty quick feet, and understands how to play man defense -- which is the most important thing in regards to what Quinn will be looking for in a player.
Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame
Weight: 193 pounds
40-yard: 4.40 seconds
Pride is a better athlete than football player at this point.
While at the Senior Bowl, the Lions got a close look at Pride's ability.
Overall, the corners struggled against a talented receiving corps. However, Pride definitely was one of the best cover guys there.
He is one of the most sticky players in the class, and is almost impossible to beat deep.
What currently makes him a mid-round pick is his inability to track the football.
He always seems to be in a great spot in coverage, but doesn't always play the ball.
It's a frustrating habit that will need to be coached up at the next level.
Reggie Robinson II, CB, Tulsa
Weight: 205 pounds
40-yard: 4.44 seconds
Robinson is really the only late-round prospect on this list.
As previously mentioned, top cover corners that can play "man" are highly coveted in the NFL.
As a press-man corner, Robinson is another guy who has all the traits you look for in a man scheme.
With any player that is selected later in the draft, there are some concerns.
For Robinson, his level of competition is a big question mark, and he didn't show well against better receivers.
He was able to out-man the lower competition, but needs to work on the fundamentals in order to be relied upon at the next level.
Right now, he is a developmental type with serious upside.