3 cornerback prospects the Jaguars can target early in the 2024 NFL Draft

• The Jaguars need help at cornerback. Here are 3 prospects they should target in Round 1 of the draft.
NFL Combine - Portraits
NFL Combine - Portraits / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

The NFL draft is fast approaching, and there are plenty of youngsters who should be on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ radar. As things stand right now the Jags have the No. 17 selection, 10 places higher than a year ago. Despite a busy opening few days in free agency few would argue there are still some holes to be filled on Doug Pederson’s roster. 

I’ll begin by addressing what I believe is the most important position the Jags need to examine before tossing around some strong youngsters this team may draft.

What’s the position the Jaguars need to prioritize in the draft?

You can make a valid argument for a few positions the Jaguars need to address in the draft later this month. Calvin Ridley’s departure might make you think they need a marquee receiver, while releasing Darious Williams and Rayshawn Jenkins may lead you to believe this team needs a quality cover man.

As I see it, pass coverage should be the primary focus for Ryan Nielsen's defense in 2024. Under Mike Caldwell, a season ago, the Jaguars gave up 239.8 passing yards per game, good for seventh-most in the NFL. Nielsen was with the Atlanta Falcons a year ago, when they conceded 202.9 yards per game through the air, so an improvement should be expected in Jacksonville.

During free agency, Jacksonville signed Ronald Darby and Darnell Savage, and both could be excellent additions at cornerback and nickel, but I believe they should add more help in the draft. Recent draft history suggests that selecting someone in the cover game can be savvy because many in that position have shown the ability to make an immediate impact.

Some cornerbacks in recent draft classes include Sauce Gardner, Trent McDuffie, and Devon Witherspoon. Gardner and McDuffie were drafted in 2022 and have each already been named a First-team All-Pro, twice for Gardner, while Witherspoon was a Pro Bowler in his 2023 rookie season.

With that in mind, here's a look at three cornerback prospects in this year’s draft that should be on the Jags’ radar.

Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

Quinyon Mitchell could be a potential draft target for the Jaguars.
NFL Combine / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

If general manager Trent Baalke thinks the secondary needs more athleticism, then Quinyon Mitchell is the perfect player to draft. Max Chadwick from Pro Football Focus had high praise for the 22-year-old out of Toledo.

"Mitchell erased any concerns about his level of competition with terrific performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, ranking as the top cornerback in the draft for some scouts."

Max Chadwick

Mitchell has exceptional speed, is a tenacious tackler, as anyone at the Senior Bowl could tell you, and is strong in man and zone coverage. He had a combined 28 pass breakups over his final two college seasons and gave up an elite QB rating of 32.4 and 49.0 in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

Terrion Arnold, Alabama

When you play at Alabama, you know the standards are as high as any program out there, and you’d better be ready to perform at an elite level. Terrion Arnold did that and more in 2023, being named a First-team All-SEC and First-team All-American.

He’s a four-star recruit with an impressive 6-foot-0 and 196-pound frame. This heavy hitter rarely misses tackles and shows patience and aggression along the line of scrimmage. His physicality sometimes causes him to draw penalties, but he’s a versatile individual who can play cornerback or safety.

Max Melton, Rutgers

Max Melton
NFL Combine / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

There’s a good chance Max Melton would be available with the 17th pick. If Mitchell and Arnold are off the board, he’d be a strong selection for Jacksonville. In 2023, he surrendered a quarterback rating of 65.7 when targeted.

Melton played for a strong program at Rutgers, and though he doesn’t have the awards like Arnold or Mitchell, he has plenty of attractive qualities.

Also, Melton posted a terrific vertical leap in the 94th percentile and can diagnose a play quickly and efficiently. His physicality will make it tough for opposing receivers to get open, while he’s also shown to be a solid run-stopper.

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