Lions 2020 Combine Preview: Cornerbacks

Logan Lamorandier previews the cornerbacks participating at the NFL Combine
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The Lions' defense is reliant on cornerbacks with man-coverage abilities. 

Instead of blitzing and sending extra rushers to bring pressure, the Lions drop more players into coverage in hopes of keeping the quarterback in the pocket long enough for a coverage sack.

Whether Darius Slay is on the team or not in 2020, the Lions will likely need depth on the outside and a succession plan in place for the veteran looking to be the top-paid player at his position. 

Quinn did sign slot corner Justin Coleman to the largest nickelback contract in the NFL just a season ago. So, the Lions are unlikely to look at smaller slot corners -- at least in the earlier rounds. 

Second-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye showed some promise his rookie year, but he is only one player. 

Needless to say, the Lions will be paying close attention to the cornerback position at the NFL combine.

Important to note, Quinn does seem to place a higher value on corners that have length and possess more than just pure speed. 

Drills such as the 3-cone and short shuttle seem to be more important to the Lions general manager than the vaunted 40-time.

Here is a breakdown of the cornerback class that will be at the combine: 

Jeff Okudah, Ohio State

Jr. | 6-foot-1 | 200 pounds

Okudah is considered the top corner in the class. He possesses just about every trait that a top corner needs to exceed at the next level. As long as he doesn't bomb at the combine -- which isn't expected -- it's hard to fathom him slipping out of the top 10.

Kristian Fulton, LSU

Sr. | 6-foot | 200 pounds

Like Okudah, Fulton is a natural man-press corner -- which the Lions will really like. The Lions do put quite a bit of emphasis on tackling ability and that is a weakness of Fulton. Not only that, but he also missed the 2017 season due to a suspension stemming from an incident that involved him tampering with an NCAA drug test. The ability is there for Fulton to be a first-round pick, but he does come with a couple of flaws the Lions might not be able to overlook.

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C.J. Henderson, Florida

Jr. | 6-foot-1 | 202 pounds

Yet again, another corner that is towards the top of draft boards due to his length and man-coverage ability. He may not play as much press as the top-two corners but he is still sticky enough to get his hands on a lot of passes. Much like Fulton, for a player of his size, he is not very physical in the run game, and shies away from contact at times. Most teams will likely take the trade off of poor run support ability for good in-coverage ability, though.

Trevon Diggs, Alabama

Sr. | 6-foot-2 | 207 pounds

One of the bigger cornerbacks of the class, Diggs can play man, but probably does his best work in zone coverage when he can locate and go after the ball. There are times where he is late to turn his head around to locate passes when in man coverage. Obviously, with his size, he does well high pointing 50/50 passes. It will be important for him to show good hip fluidity at the combine, though.

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Jeff Gladney, TCU

Sr. | 6-foot | 183 pounds

Gladney is one player specifically I think the Lions could target with their second-round pick if available. He has very quick feet, which allows him to play on the outside in man coverage and in the slot as well. At 183 pounds, he isn't necessarily a big corner, but he does provide quite a bit in run support and tackling. If Quinn can overlook Gladney's slight frame, there is a lot to like about Gladney's fit with the Lions.

A.J. Terrell, Clemson

Jr. | 6-foot-1 | 190 pounds

Terrell's struggles in the National Championship game against LSU left a bad taste in many mouths, but Terrell had quite a bit of good film before that. Known as another man-coverage type, Terrell does have some smooth hips and agile feet for his size. He can get a bit "handsy" which could be a problem in the flag-happy NFL. Probably considered a good athlete but not a great one for the position. A great combine showing could really go a long way to help people forget about the last time they saw him in action.

Bryce Hall, Virginia

Sr. | 6-foot-1 | 200 pounds

There still has yet to be a sub-six-footer on this list and Hall is no exception. Hall is definitely more of a zone corner due to relatively weak athleticism. For a team looking for a player that can play zone and make plays on the ball, Hall is their man. In 2018, he led the nation in pass breakups with 21. Also, he might be one of the strongest tacklers of the class. Given his strengths, some teams could view him as a hybrid safety type of player.

Damon Arnette, Ohio State

Sr. | 6-foot | 195 pounds

Coming out of Ohio State, Arnette has shown the ability to play the coveted man-press technique. He does a lot of things well but doesn't necessarily have one trait that makes him stick out above the rest. At the same time, it's hard to find any glaring flaws in his game.

Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi St.

Jr. | 6-foot-2 | 185 pounds

For a player with a lengthier frame, he demonstrates above-average hip fluidity. He plays a lot with his eyes in the backfield which would likely be more favorable for a zone scheme team. In terms of man coverage, he does allow separation at the top of routes due to below par overall foot speed. The Lions had two 6-foot-2 corners on their roster this year and they may like Dantzler in the middle rounds if he can time well in the agility drills at the combine.

Michael Ojemudia, Iowa

Sr. | 6-foot-1 | 200 pounds

Ojemudia is a local high school product whose brother played at Michigan. I personally still see Ojemudia more as a safety -- others will disagree. He is at least an aggressive tackler but doesn't have true top-end speed and the ability to break strongly on passes. What he does best projects better as a versatile safety. If in a zone predominant scheme, he could be a developmental prospect as a corner.

Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame

Sr. | 5-foot-11 | 194 pounds

There it is -- the first corner listed under 6-foot. Pride is predicted to be one of the best athletes at the position. At the Senior Bowl, Pride was always tight in coverage against some of the top competition. Receivers can't outrun him and very rarely created much separation on the underneath routes. His biggest knock will be his lack of ball production. Some team will be infatuated with his measurements and will hope to correct his struggles locating the football.

Jaylon Johnson, Utah

Jr. | 6'0 | 195 pounds

A physical corner that is an aggressive tackler and goes after the ball if it gets in the hands of the receiver. His active hands at the catch point can also be a little too active when the receiver doesn't have the ball leading to penalties at the next level. His grabby tendencies may be a by-product of not being the most fluid athlete. Due to those concerns, he likely will need to play more off-man and zone coverage. The best way to describe Johnson is scrappy.

Lamar Jackson, Nebraska

Sr. | 6-foot-2 | 206 pounds

Jackson is a big dude. With his size, he uses it well to jam receivers at the line. He is more of a linear athlete -- which is expected with his body type. His feet can be a little slow to get going out of breaks. As is typically the case with larger corners, he does struggle at times with smaller, quicker receivers. With that said, Jackson did showcase an ability to make plays on the ball during his time at Nebraska. He is a difficult projection, and your guess is as good as mine as to how exactly he will be used in the NFL.

Other cornerback combine prospects:

Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern

Darnay Holmes, UCLA 

Essang Bassey Wake Forest

Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn

Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh

John Reid, Penn St. 

Lavert Hill, Michigan

A.J. Green, Oklahoma St. 

Josiah Scott, Michigan St. 

Grayland Arnold, Baylor 

Trajan Bandy, Miami

Myles Bryant, Washington

Nevelle Clarke, UCF 

Stantley Thomas-Oliver, Florida International 

James Pierre, Florida Atlantic

Javaris Davis, Auburn

Javelin K. Guidry, Utah

Harrison Hand, Temple 

BoPete Keyes, Tulane

Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech

Reggie Robinson II, Tulsa

Stanford Samuels, Florida St.

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