The Raiders struck gold in the 2019 NFL Draft by finding Trayvon Mullen, a potential lockdown corner in the second round.
You can pencil Mullen as the starting cornerback on one side of the field for the foreseeable future. The Raiders tried to address the cornerback position in free agency, but they missed out on Byron Jones and Chris Harris Jr. After their deal with Eli Apple fell apart, cornerback became a pressing need to be addressed in the NFL draft.
The 2020 cornerback class has one surefire star in Ohio State's Jeff Okudah and two-to-five other likely NFL starters that should go in the first 40 picks. That's pretty much the range for elite cornerbacks. Over the last four years, Richard Sherman (fifth-round), A.J. Bouye (undrafted) and Malcolm Butler (undrafted) were the only three All-Pro cornerbacks who weren't drafted in the first two rounds. The other 13 all were taken at the top of the draft.
That doesn't mean it's impossible to find talent at cornerback later in the draft, it just means it's a little less likely. The Raiders should be able to address their cornerback need in Round 1, but there are a few later-round guys who they should target if the draft goes a different way.
Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn
Igbinoghene arrived on The Plains as a talented receiver recruit and turned into one of the draft's most intriguing cornerback prospects.
A relatively new corner, Igbinoghene has the athleticism and physicality to play at the NFL but he will need to get more comfortable with his coverage instincts. He's an explosive athlete with a high NFL ceiling, but there's no telling how long it will take him to reach it. Over 878 coverage snaps at Auburn, Igbinoghene allowed only three touchdowns. Not bad for a converted wide receiver.
Here's the athleticism:
It’s Throwback Thursday and we’re STILL watching this insane clip of Noah Igbinoghene from the @AuburnFootball score on an incredible 95 YARD PUNT RETURN at the 2020 Outback Bowl! 🏈🍤 #DraftDay #AuburnTigers #OutbackBowl2020 pic.twitter.com/O9akR4qcGw— Outback Bowl (@outbackbowl) April 9, 2020
And improving coverage skills.
Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn:— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) March 22, 2020
• Uses the sideline as an extra defender
• Route recognition/pattern matcher
• Easy deep/catch up speed (+)
• Upside/Only played CB for 2 yrs.
• Balance/patient technique (++)
• Click-close downhill trigger (+) pic.twitter.com/KKRwNoWQPv
Bryce Hall, Virginia
Hall returned for his senior season at Viriginia, but an ankle injury limited him to just six games, hurting his draft stock.
The 6-foot-1 defensive back is long and explosive with tremendous ball skills. He struggled at times in man coverage at Virginia and many analysts beleive he might be best suited for a zone-heavy scheme. While he comes with question marks, Hall has is an intelligent player, high character locker room presence and has the ability to make game-changing plays on the field.
He projects as an NFL starter as long as the fit is right.
Up top. (He's always the left corner)— CrockTIME (@eric_crocker) March 30, 2020
I think his off coverage is the most impressive part of his game to me. Something thats usually difficult for bigger corners in man. I think he has a good feel for when to settle his feet and get ready to break pic.twitter.com/Em46GfeXE4
NC State had no luck with Harmon against Hall on short passes.. tried hum deep.. same results. im really impressed with his off coverage for a bigger corner. Backpedal turn and run.. squeeze receiver.. get in phase.. look back for ball.. easy work for Hall.. pic.twitter.com/59TX2J2Pdm— CrockTIME (@eric_crocker) January 1, 2019
Damon Arnette, Ohio State
If you're looking for a starter in press coverage, Damon Arnette is your man.
Overshadowed by his teammate Okudah, the 6-foot cornerback has great quickness, is sticky in man coverage, has the anticipation to play zone and brings exceptional ball skills and body control to the table. He had the lowest passer rating allowed in single man coverage in the NCAA last year.
The Raiders kicked the tires on a Darius Slay trade, but it fell through. Arnette has drawn comparisons to Slay and should be able to start in the NFL on Day 1.
Ohio State’s Damon Arnette (@damon_arnette) is a corner I’ll be watching closely at the @seniorbowl. His coverage against Indiana earlier this season was textbook, watch how he deflects the ball at the last second on this fade ball. Excellent coverage.#WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/Dq6dk1zr2x— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) December 16, 2019
Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
One of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, Dantzler has the height, length, competitiveness and versatility to be a solid NFL cornerback. While some scouts worry about his narrow frame, the tape shows a corner with great coverage skills in man, press and zone.
Dantzler's anticipation and instincts have some analysts believing he'd be a better zone-scheme fit in the NFL. His production across 22 starts at Mississippi State shows a corner who has the tools to fit into any scheme if given the time.
The 6-foot-2 corner also played LSU's Ja'Marr Chase -- the Biletnikoff Award winner and likely top-10 2021 pick -- the best of any corner. While Chase torched Clemson's A.J. Terrell, a likely top 40 pick, in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Dantzler only allowed two catches for 13 yards when targeted by LSU.
However, Dantlzer's 4.64 40 time and 30.5-inch arms will raise a lot of questions about his staying power in the NFL.
Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame
Potentially one of the most underrated prospects in the draft, Notre Dame's Troy Pride Jr. played well at the Senior Bowl and could be one of the steals of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The 5-foot-11 corner has the requisite quickness, speed and change of direction to thrive in man coverage. While he thrives in man, Pride also has the instincts to play zone and has played in a press-scheme as well, making him not scheme dependent.
Hurting Pride are his less than exceptional ball skills and lack of production in run support. While he might not be a Day 1 starter, Pride does have the skills and potential to be a starter in Year 2 or Year 3.
Notre Dame CB Troy Pride Jr. vs deep (20+ yards) passes:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 6, 2020
6 Receptions allowed
16 Forced incompletions pic.twitter.com/i6Gu1VryQy
Troy Pride Jr. said NOT TODAY— Barstool Irish (@BarstoolIrish) December 28, 2019
GREAT defensive play by the Irish corner ☘️