Mel Kiper’s First Mock Draft Has Raiders Passing on Quarterbacks for a “True No. 1 Cover Corner”

Mel Kiper’s first mock draft of the year was released on Tuesday, and he has the Raiders addressing their secondary with the 13th-overall pick.

The Raiders still had not announced a general manager at the time of the pick, so this is really a shot in the dark, but Kiper has the Raiders taking Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold in round one.

Kiper said he was considering a quarterback for the Raiders with their first pick but opted for the second cornerback off the board instead…

“This was another spot in which I thought about slotting in the fourth quarterback in this class, as the Raiders are likely to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason and rookie fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell struggled after some early flashes. Ultimately, this might be Las Vegas’ best chance to get a true No. 1 cover corner, though, as Arnold took his game to another level in 2023.

He picked off five passes and had 12 total breakups as quarterbacks completed just 37.9% of their passes when he was the nearest defender in coverage. He can shut down one side of the field for a defense that improved down the stretch but still has a ways to go to compete in a tough AFC West.”

A couple of notes on Kiper’s explanation…

First, it’s worth pointing out that Aidan O’Connell actually didn’t show “flashes” early in the season and struggle as the season progressed. On the contrary, he seemed to play better late in the year. There was a rough outing against the Vikings, but O’Connell closed out the final four games of the season with 8 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

Another notable detail in Kiper’s mock draft is that he has only three quarterbacks being drafted ahead of the Raiders. If the draft plays out the way he sees it, Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix, and J.J. McCarthy would all be on the board for the Raiders at pick 13.

As for Terrion Arnold, The Draft Network‘s Keith Sanchez offered high praise for Arnold in his draft breakdown of the Alabama cornerback two weeks ago…

Overall, Arnold is as physically gifted as any corner in the 2024 NFL Draft class. If he clears up a few technique issues, there is a clear path for him to be a high-level corner in the NFL. 

Terrion Arnold profiles as an elite-level athlete who entered the Alabama program as a safety and made the transition to playing the cornerback position. Arnold became a starter entering the 2022 season and continued to develop his skill set through the offseason, putting together one of the best cornerback seasons and becoming one of the biggest rising 2024 NFL Draft prospects. Arnold’s elite athletic traits combined with his technique allow him to be an impact player in both pass coverage and in the run game. 

In pass coverage, Arnold is scheme-versatile in that he can play both press-man and zone. In man coverage, Arnold showcases great lateral agility in that he can successfully mirror receivers at the line of scrimmage, disrupting their releases. When the timing is right, Arnold can shoot his hands to jam receivers and disrupt them. Into the route, Arnold’s athleticism and fluid hips are shown in how he can stay in phase with receivers whether they are running quick in-breakers or running vertical routes down the field. In the deeper portions of the field, Arnold has shown the ability to turn and locate the football, allowing himself to make a play on the football for a PBU or INT. 

In zone coverage, Arnold’s explosiveness/short-area quickness is on display. On plays where Arnold is playing off coverage in a zone scheme, he shows the ability to quickly plant and drive downhill to receivers to disrupt plays and make plays on the ball. Arnold has also shown to be a good IQ player in zone in that he understands how to pass off routes and will occasionally take a chance on jumping a route to make a play on the ball. 

As a run defender, Arnold has plus-level reps as a corner. Multiple times during the 2023 season, Arnold was able to shed blockers on the perimeter and step up to make the tackle. He can be a player that’s consistently utilized in run support. 

The improvements for Arnold center around his consistency against the pass in both man and zone situations. In press, Arnold will occasionally have lapses in his technique which result in him being out of position and losing the rep. In zone situations, Arnold will appear to give too much cushion or bail too early at times, giving receivers unchallenged free access into the short-to-intermediate routes. These lapses could simply be due to Arnold making the transition to corner for just a few years and needing more reps at the position. 

Overall, Arnold is as physically gifted as any corner in the 2024 NFL Draft class. If he clears up a few technique issues, there is a clear path for him to be a high-level corner in the NFL.

twitter: @raidersbeat


2 thoughts on “Mel Kiper’s First Mock Draft Has Raiders Passing on Quarterbacks for a “True No. 1 Cover Corner”

  1. In Mel killer’s 1.0 2024 draft the Raiders pick Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold the number 2 corner. And only 3 QB’s going in 1st round. If this turns out to be true ( we’ll see ) we maybe can get Michael Pennix at 44 or trade up higher 🤔 in second round to get him. I know some of his balls sail at times. But he can cut through bad weather cause he’s played in it and he’s good throwing deep we’ll need a QB that can play in bad weather for the playoffs!!! And we can get Oline help and Dline later there’s plenty of Oline guys later 3rd and 4th rd.

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