How Ennis Rakestraw Playing Slot Corner Aids Lions' Defense

How Ennis Rakestraw playing inside could help Aaron Glenn's defense.
Detroit Lions cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. (15) answers a question during rookie minicamp.
Detroit Lions cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. (15) answers a question during rookie minicamp. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK
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By doubling up on cornerbacks in the first two round of the NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions gave themselves options for the future.

This decision doesn't just give the team two options at the position, but rather two versatile players who are capable of playing inside as the slot cornerback and outside on the boundary. Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw both have these capabilities.

As a result, rookie minicamp is a prime opportunity for the Lions to begin to gauge where each player best fits the team. While Arnold is expected to be the team's eventual shutdown corner on the boundary, there are perks to the team playing Rakestraw inside in the slot.

For starters, Rakestraw in the slot would give the team freedom to move Brian Branch to safety, where the depth is currently light. Branch is an exceptional playmaker who has shown that he is comfortable playing anywhere throughout the secondary, and playing him at safety would have its perks.

The Missouri product lined up in the slot on the first day of rookie minicamp, which was conducted Friday. He has experience playing that specific area from his collegiate days and called the position his home during his media session.

"I have experience. That's how I played my freshman year as a starter," Rakestraw explained. "I started at nickel and then I started at corner. To me, that's just my home."

Having Rakestraw in the slot could also help him overcome his size concerns. He's not the most physically imposing player, so if he were not on the boundary he could match up more against slot receivers that are smaller in stature.

He's also strong in press-man coverage, which would give defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn comfort utilizing this type of defense across the board.

Despite his size concerns, Rakestraw plays above his limitations in this aspect. As a result, he can also help out in the run game and set a hard edge. With his compact frame, he would absolutely help the Lions from a toughness and physicality aspect.

“I started the first day there, so big picture probably maybe," Rakestraw said. "But it don’t matter where I play, I just want to play, I just want to be a part.” 

He and Terrion Arnold appear to have formed a close bond early in their time with the organization. As a result, they are both motivated to earn starting spots within Detroit's defense. With more established talents on roster, a competitive environment is being fostered by Detroit's leadership.

“You’ve gotta compete no matter what," Rakestraw said. "You want to go to a job where everybody’s competing because that’s how you know everybody’s trying to strive for the same goal and win the Super Bowl. Competition is what you want because on Sundays, you’ll get competition on the other side of the field as well.” 

Christian Booher


Sports journalist who has covered the Detroit Lions the past three NFL seasons. Christian brings expert analysis, insights and an ability to fairly assess how the team is performing in a tough NFC North division.