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2020 NFL Combine preview: Cornerbacks the Detroit Lions should watch

The Lions secondary faces uncertainty both in its level of talent and its future, and is a big part of why this group means so much to the team at the Combine.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With one of the worst defenses in the NFL during the 2019 season, the Detroit Lions will be looking for help at every level. One of the most important for this scheme is in the secondary where Darius Slay has been a stalwart for years and Tracy Walker broke out in his sophomore campaign. While there was some promising development with 2019 fifth-round pick Amani Oruwariye, the team will certainly be looking to upgrade at cornerback both immediately and for the future. Thankfully, this cornerback class is fairly strong, if not overly top heavy after the top player.

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Note: All RAS links will be updated during and after the Combine with official and tentative metrics. This will continue throughout the draft season.

Bryce Hall, Virginia

Bryce Hall RAS

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Technically sound with good physicality and tackling ability, Hall is coming off a season-ending ankle injury that required surgery. If medicals check out as expected, he’s likely going to be closely watched at the Combine—his metrics were never expected to be top tier, and his position drills may show some rust if he hasn’t fully prepared for them. Hall is projected to be more of a zone corner than a man-cover guy, but if a team thinks the traits are there, I’d expect him to be snatched up quickly.

Jeff Gladney, Texas Christian

Jeff Gladney RAS

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A bit more slender than you’d like, but he could come into the Combine with some better weight to complement his length. Gladney is an efficient cover man with good ability to diagnose route trees and mirror wide receivers through their breaks. Generally considered the second or occasionally third best corner in this class, there’s a pretty big dropoff from the uber talented Jeffrey Okudah, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t get immediate impact from a player as well put together as Jeff Gladney.

Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State

Jeffery Okudah RAS

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On tape, Okudah is one of the best athletes in this draft class, and he’ll be able to use the Combine to show that. The gap in athleticism between Okudah and the receivers he faced was stark in contrast, and he won far more often based on that gap than he did because of a significant difference in technique. That isn’t to say he lacks technical ability, but simply that it isn’t why he’s as good as he is. Okudah has the same level of potential that Patrick Peterson and Jalen Ramsey had and as a man-coverage specialist, he fits the Detroit Lions defense perfectly. Expected to be the Lions first-round selection, barring some crazy shenanigans, imagining him in Honolulu Blue is pretty simple.

Kristian Fulton, Louisiana State

Kristian Fulton RAS

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Playing almost exclusively in man coverage for LSU, Fulton is easy to project in a scheme such as the Lions. Along with Jeff Gladney, Fulton is often considered the second or third best corner in this class, but they couldn’t be much further apart in terms of type. Whereas Gladney has athletic concerns and is more suited to zone, Fulton showcases elite athletic traits on the regular and barely played any zone. Fulton has excellent ball skills as well and could inject some playmaking ability into this defense if taken day two, though he could sneak into day one with a strong enough Combine showing in all areas.

Lamar Jackson, Nebraska

Lamar Jackson RAS

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Size and length are Jackson’s calling card, but he looks like a pretty good athlete on tape as well. That’s always the big question with larger corners, can they move in space to the point where they won’t get abused by smaller and shiftier receivers? Jackson isn’t a flawless prospect who lives and dies by the decisions he makes. Right decision and he’s in the perfect position to use his length to account for most situations, make the wrong one and he’s out of position with a lot of ground to cover.

The Others

A.J. Green, Oklahoma State (RAS)

Good athlete on tape with an eye for the football, but not nearly as physical as you’d expect given his size.

A.J. Terrell, Clemson (RAS)

Fine athletic traits on display and good size for the position, but frame suggests he’s going to take time to acclimate to the NFL’s level of physicality.

Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech (RAS)

Likely destined for the nickel as a pro, Robertson lacks the size and length you usually want from outside corners, but has some impressive ball skills.

C.J. Henderson, Florida (RAS)

A pure developmental prospect, Henderson is a ‘wow’ player, both in the good and the bad ways.

Cameron Dantzler, Mississipi State (RAS)

On tape looks like a good enough athlete with solid length, but needs to work near the line as he struggles the further from it he is at the snap.

Damon Arnette, Ohio State (RAS)

Decent size and athletic ability at first glance, but the longer a play develops, the less I think he’ll measure well.

Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh (RAS)

A frustrating watch due to his eyes, which are always on the receiver and never on the quarterback or the ball.

Grayland Arnold, Baylor (RAS)

I have concerns about his ball skills. While he had six picks (career high), he had only two pass deflections, a very odd statline.

Harrison Hand, Temple (RAS)

Zone primary ball hawk, but not your typical tiny quick guy that usually fits that role.

James Pierre, Florida Atlantic (RAS)

Tall and lanky, Pierre lacked the ball skills that you really want in a top prospect, and he’s a difficult one to slot schematically. Possibly a safety convert.

Javaris Davis, Auburn (RAS)

Smaller but with good speed on tape. His lack of explosiveness can show up when faced off against larger receivers, though.

Javelin Guidry, Utah (RAS)

A pure nickelback with starter upside, Guidry is thickly built for his smaller frame and can hit when it’s called for.

John Reid, Penn State (RAS)

When studying John Reid, I was surprised to see he was as tall as 5’10” and as heavy as 181 pounds. He looks and plays smaller.

Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern (RAS)

Small school player with good ball skills who could launch himself into the discussion for early day three with a good Combine showing.

L’Jarius Sneed, Louisiana Tech (RAS)

Versatile defensive back who offers special teams upside, Sneed is one of the better tacklers in this draft class.

Lavert Hill, Michigan (RAS)

Taller than you’d expect given his lack of length, Hill is a good man corner that reminds me of a kind of anti-Nevin Lawson with how he uses his eyes.

Myles Bryant, Washington (RAS)

You don’t usually convert smaller corners to safety, but I like the idea of Bryant playing a more physical nickel role if he can beef up a little bit. He hits.

Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn (RAS)

Scouts that don’t fall in love with his speed are going to love his work ethic. He needs to work on his physicality and tackling.

Reggie Robinson II, Tulsa (RAS)

Lengthy man corner with better agility than you’d expect at his size. Not very fast, which can get him into trouble.

Shyheim Carter, Alabama (RAS)

More a nickel safety than a corner, Carter would be a fun fix in this defense long-term if Tavon Wilson isn’t brought back.

Stantley Thomas-Oliver, Florida International (RAS)

Fun player from a program without much of a national spotlight, STO didn’t have much production for FIU and may be a bit of a project.

Thakarius Keyes, Tulane (RAS)

Expected to measure very well, Keyes is a bit of a sleeper in this class.

Trajan Bandy, Miami (RAS)

Small and quick, but not lengthy, fast, nor explosive. Feel like he’ll struggle unless he lands on a team with an excellent pass rush.

Trevon Diggs, Alabama (RAS)

Not sure how Diggs fits in this defense, but the injuries are a bigger deal than his fit or athleticism.

Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame (RAS)

Funny player because his negatives aren’t super bad and his positives aren’t super good, but he’s still kind of above average somehow.