2024 NFL Draft: 10 draft-eligible cornerbacks to know

2NHGDGY January 02, 2023 Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Kalen King (4) intercepts a pass during the Rose Bowl football game between the Utah Utes and the Penn State Nittany Lions at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Mandatory Photo Credit : Charles Baus/CSM (Credit Image: © Charles Baus/CSM via ZUMA Press Wire) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

  • Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry: The rising junior was a first-team PFF All-American this past season and is the early favorite to be CB1 in the 2024 draft.
  • Penn State’s Kalen King: In a secondary with Joey Porter Jr., King was the star for the Nittany Lions this past season.
  • Iowa’s Cooper DeJean: The rising junior is the most versatile defensive back in college football.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

There has been a cornerback selected in the top five in three of the last four NFL drafts.  Will there be another in 2024? Here are the 10 corners to know as we head into summer scouting.

Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

Among those returning to school, McKinstry is the best cornerback, best returner and has the best nickname.

Kool-Aid was a first-team PFF All-American this past season, and his 18 forced incompletions tied for second among all corners in the country. The sophomore also led all Power Five players with 332 punt return yards. He’s the most valuable returning Power Five corner according to PFF’s wins above average metric.

Kalen King, Penn State

Joey Porter Jr. may have gone 32nd overall in the 2023 draft, but King was Penn State's true star in the secondary this past season.

In single-coverage, the sophomore led all corners in the country with a 93.3 grade and 18.3 passer rating allowed. His 15 forced incompletions in single-coverage were tied for third among FBS corners as well.

Cooper DeJean, Iowa

DeJean is the most versatile corner in college football. He can excel both in coverage and as a run-defender either on the outside or as a slot corner. 

DeJean was the only corner in the country with 85-plus grades both in coverage and in run defense. His five interceptions tied for fourth among Power Five corners while his 15 run-defense stops tied for the most among all FBS ones. A move to safety may be in his future, but he showed he’s a more than capable corner.

Denzel Burke, Ohio State

As a true freshman, Burke started at outside corner for Ohio State and only allowed a 48.4% completion rate while forcing 10 incompletions and not allowing any touchdowns. 

He regressed as a sophomore, allowing a 110.2 passer rating when targeted. He’s a physical press corner at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and could be a first-round pick with a bounceback junior campaign.

Josh Newton, TCU

Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson won the Jim Thorpe Award as college football's best defensive back. However, he wasn’t even the highest-graded corner on his own team.

Newton led all Horned Frogs corners with an 81.9 grade, and he was fourth among Power Five corners this year with a 35.3% completion rate allowed. The Louisiana-Monroe transfer is also the third-most valuable returning Power Five corner, per PFF’s wins above average metric.

Javon Bullard, Georgia

Whether you classify him as a corner or safety, Bullard’s true home is at slot corner. In fact, he was an honorable mention PFF All-American this past season at slot corner. 

The sophomore’s 79.3 grade ranked third among Power Five slot corners this season. He only surrendered 0.88 yards per coverage snap from the slot, sixth in that same group. Bullard’s 82.6 grade in zone coverage ranked fourth among all Power Five corners as well.

Kamari Lassiter, Georgia

Georgia tends to leave their corners on islands, making it very easy to see whether or not they’re up to snuff.

Lassiter’s 190 snaps in single-coverage were sixth among Power Five corners this season. Of the sophomore’s 34 targets in single coverage, he only allowed 13 catches. He’ll be the reigning back-to-back champs’ top outside corner this season with Kelee Ringo drafted to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Fentrell Cypress II, Florida State

After four seasons at Virginia, Cypress is transferring within the ACC to Florida State.

This past year, he ranked fifth among Power Five corners in yards allowed per coverage snap (0.53). In single coverage, he was fourth in the Power Five with only a 4.5% open target rate allowed. 

Jason Marshall Jr., Florida

Marshall excels in press coverage. 

The sophomore only surrendered a 35.2 passer rating when targeted in press coverage over the last two seasons, eighth among Power Five corners. For comparison, spiking the ball every play nets a 39.6 passer rating. 

Malachi Moore, Alabama

Moore excelled as a true freshman for Alabama, earning an 82.1 coverage grade while lining up mostly at slot corner. Since then, he earned just a 63.8 coverage over the past two seasons. Moore’s battled injuries in that stretch but should be a full-time starter for the Crimson Tide in 2023, whether in the slot or at safety.

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