Ranking Eagles' best cornerback options in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft

Might the Eagles take a defensive back in the first round of the NFL Draft for the first time in 22 years?
Terrion Arnold, Philadelphia Eagles draft
Terrion Arnold, Philadelphia Eagles draft / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Darius Slay is the Philadelphia Eagles' best cornerback, but he's old. James Bradberry is the other starter on the outside, but he's old (and he regressed this past NFL season). Stop us if any of this sounds familiar.

If nothing changed between now and both voluntary and mandatory minicamps, Philly would walk through training camp and the preseason with a ton of bodies and prospects for their secondary.

Avonte Maddox is back! Add him to a list that includes eight other cornerbacks that will be competing for spots on the 53-man roster: Kelee Ringo, Zech McPhearson, Eli Ricks, Josh Jobe, Tyler Hall, Mekhi Garner, Mario Goodrich, and Tiawan Mullen.

Tristin McCollum is listed as a defensive back, so he's around. Isaiah Rodgers hasn't been reinstated yet, but once that happens (if it happens), he can be added to the cornerback competition with the above mentions.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Reed, Blankenship, and Sydney Brown are the other safeties. Again, there are a lot of bodies there, but that doesn't mean that we don't have questions.

The Eagles probably don't have a shot at landing Quinyon Mitchell in the NFL Draft. He figures to be the first cornerback taken.

The Eagles don't take defensive backs in the first round very often. They have only done so three times. It hasn't happened since 2002 (Lito Sheppard). Roynell Young (1980) and Ben Smith (1990) were the only other two Birds to carry the same distinction.

If there was ever a time for Philly to try something different, this would be the year to do so. Aging veterans and unproven youth do not a complete secondary make.

Throw Quinyon Mitchell's name out of the discussion. He won't be available when the Eagles are on the clock, but Philly will have a wealth of options if the still want a DB in Round 1.

Here are the Eagles' top options at defensive back once Quinyon Mitchell is taken in Round 1.

Over the past few weeks, various mock drafts have mentioned the Eagles in conjunction with everyone from Nate Wiggins and Kool-Aid McKinstry to Cooper DeJean and Ennis Rakestraw. All have talent all have bright futures ahead of them.

As mentioned, it's expected that Quinyon Mitchell will be the first defensive back taken. We agree with that take. Here are the other potential first-rounders that may follow.

1. Cooper DeJean, Iowa

A season-ending lower leg injury halted Cooper DeJean's final collegiate campaign after ten games. He had already pieced together an impressive run by then, adding 41 tackles, two interceptions and five pass breakuos to his resume.

This two-time First-Team All-Big Ten nod (2022, 2023) also added Tatum–Woodson Defensive Back of the Year, Rodgers–Dwight Return Specialist of the Year, and Unanimous All-American honors to his trophy case last season.

The medical stuff is behind him. He can play both safety and cornerback, and that's just one of the reasons why he tops our list as the best prospect not named Quinyon Mitchell.

2. Terrion Arnold, Alabama

While some would view a five-foot-eleven, 189-pound cornerback as being undersized, most see Terrion Arnold as having the stuff to compete at the professional level. We, as you can see, rank him ahead of Alabama teammate Kool-Aid McKinstry.

Arnold stacked 61 tackles, five interceptions and 11 pass breakups in 2023. He's a 2023 First-Team All-American and First-team All-SEC nod. Expect to hear his name on the first night of the coming NFL Draft.

Nate Wiggins, Clemson

Some see Nate Wiggins as this draft class's second best cornerback behind Quinyon Mitchell. he very well might be.

We wouldn't have any issues if he was Philly's choice in Round 1. He, at six-foot-one and 173 pounds, has the size to keep up with anyone. He also has the speed to keep up with anyone.

Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

A favorite of Eagles fans everywhere, Kool-Aid McKinstry has the stuff to be a star. He struggled versus the Texas Longhorns last season but proved in just about every other contest that he should be taken seriously.

Like Terrion Arnold, he stands at five-foot-eleven, but he outweighs his former teammate by about ten pounds. He could be the final cornerback taken, and he could very well come off draft boards as the second. Keep an eye on him as we move through the draft's first night.

Honorable mention: Kamari Lassiter (Georgia) and Tyler Nubin (Minnesota)

We seriously doubt the Eagles will add a safety in Round 1, but if they do, Tyler Nubin is among the best of the bunch (and he'll probably be hanging around at the 22nd overall selection). Kamari Lassiter is the eighth-ranked cornerback on Pro Football Focus's big board and the 37th-ranked player overall.

He probably won't sneak into the back half of Round 1, but he's a nice option for one of Philly's pair of draft picks in Round 2.

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