2024 NFL Draft Rankings: Defensive Backs

We’re just a few nights away from the 2024 NFL draft, and only a few position groups are left to rank. With two picks in the first round, the Bears hosted several top players for visits, but I was surprised by how many defensive backs they invited. The Bears had visits with some of the top-ranked DBs on my list, and it’s time to break down the rankings for you. 

The Bears lost long-time veteran Eddie Jackson this offseason after they released him to free more cap space. However, they did reach a long-term deal with Jaylon Johnson, and he should be covering top receivers for the Bears for years. 2023 draft picks Tyrique Stevenson and Terrell Smith will rotate in, and 2022’s picks Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker aim to join Chicago’s long-term plans. After Jackson’s departure, the Bears added veteran Kevin Byard and former Packer Jonathan Owens to fill the void. I don’t know if either safety can be a long-term solution for Chicago, but I like them both for short-term relief. With six DBs getting top-30 visits with the Bears, the brass must be looking at improvement opportunities, and there’s valuable talent to consider drafting. 

1A. Quinyon Mitchell CB Toledo 6’0″ 195lbs

If your team runs more zone coverage than man coverage, then Quinyon Mitchell is your number-one cornerback prospect. He’s quick and breaks on the ball with intelligent route recognition and an understanding of where to be. Mitchell’s hips aren’t as smooth as my next prospect, but he still flips them well and attacks the ball just as aggressively. I especially like Mitchell’s backpedal, and the way he waits to flip his hips allows him to keep defenders downhill more often. That’s why Mitchell had 19 passes deflected in 2022 and 18 in 2023. 

1B. Terrion Arnold Alabama CB 6’0″ 189lbs

Terrion Arnold is a standout prospect, and many teams are eyeing him as the potential first DB drafted. His man-coverage skills are exceptional, possibly the best I’ve seen in my years of doing positional rankings. His ability to mirror his opponents is a testament to his agility and quick thinking. While he may not be the most physical corner in the draft, he compensates with his ability to sniff out screens and disrupt them in the backfield. However, he does need to work on his zone-coverage skills. Despite this, he has the potential to be the first cornerback drafted. 

2. Tyler Nubin Minessota S 6’1″ 199lbs

Tyler Nubin is the first on my list of safeties and with good reason. He’s a true ball hawk who keeps his eyes in the backfield and uses his length to get across a receiver’s body. If Nubin gets both hands on the ball, he’s not dropping it often because he’s more sure-handed than some wide receivers. A very fluid mover, Nubin has the backpedal and hip-flipping ability to keep his movements smooth and quick. Those skills ensure he always has a shot to break on the ball and try to haul in the interception. An important trait for me is a DB’s ability to affect the run game, and Nubin does that with good form and hard-hitting tackles. He will tackle low too often, which may lead to missed tackles if he doesn’t clean it up, but Nubin is a top-tier prospect who could go in the first round. 

3. Javon Bullard S Georgia 5’10” 198lbs

If you like how Brisker plays for Chicago, you’ll like how Javon Bullard plays. Bullard is undersized but makes up for it in skill and motor. He covers with great instincts and vision, reacting well to routes and identifying run attempts. Bullard is one of my favorite safeties to watch lay the pine, and he looks happy to do it. Bullard needs to improve his deep zone coverage, but despite some poor angles and lack of elite speed, his vision and intelligence keep him capable of making a play. I’ll be watching Bullard’s career closely regardless, but he has a Chicago Bears mentality and play style that I’d love to see on this team. 

4. Kamren Kinchens S Miami 5’11” 203lbs

Kamren Kinchens might take the best angles of anyone in this draft class, and it showed in his seven interceptions in 2023. He seems to know where to be at all times and puts himself there. Kinchens tracks the ball well in the air, and he reads and anticipates quarterbacks at a high level. His ball skills are NFL-ready, but I’m curious if his athleticism is. Kinchens can be overaggressive, leading to missed tackles or deflections, and he doesn’t have the speed to make up for those mistakes. He’ll be a valuable asset to any team if he gets more disciplined at the NFL level, and he began showing improvement last year. 

5. Ennis Rakestraw Jr CB Missouri 5’11” 183lbs

After a run on safeties, I’ll end my deep dives with a fun cornerback prospect. Ennis Rakestraw Jr. is a good short-area burst prospect who loves to be in on the tackle. His tackling form is pretty good, and he still covers with capability. He mirrors well in man and keeps himself close. Rakestraw is also willing to get physical, early or at the top of routes, and use his strength and length to control receivers a bit. With all that length, I expected to see Rakestraw get his hands on the ball more often, but his speed had him a second too late. He also flips his hips too early and that makes him susceptible to losing spot and comeback routes underneath. Still, Rakestraw is a fun prospect, and with his high motor, he’ll be an asset to any team. 

6. Kamari Lassiter CB Georgia 5’11” 186lbs

7. Kool-Aid McKinstry CB Alabama 5’11” 192lbs

8. Nate Wiggens CB Clemson 6’1″ 173lbs

9. Beau Brade S Maryland 6’0″ 203lbs

10. TJ Tampa CB Iowa St. 6’1″ 189lbs

11. Cooper DeJean DB Iowa 6’0″ 203lbs

12. James Williams S/LB Miami 6’4″ 231lbs

13. DJ James CB Auburn 6’0 175lbs

14. Josh Proctor S Ohio St. 6’1″ 199lbs

15. Tykee Smith DB Georgia 5’10” 202lbs

16. Calen Bullock S USC 6’2″ 188lbs

17. Dadrion Taylor-Demerson S Texas Tech 5’10” 197lbs

18. Jaden Hicks S Washington St. 6’2″ 211lbs

19. Trey Taylor S Air Force 6’0″ 210lbs

20. Kris Abrams-Draine CB Missouri 5’11” 179lbs

21. Caelen Carson CB Wake Forest 6’0″ 199lbs

22. Cole Bishop S Utah 6’2″ 206lbs

23. Elijah Jones CB Boston College 6’1″ 185lbs

24. Malik Mustapha S Wake Forest 5’10” 209lbs

25. Renardo Green DB FSU 6’0″ 186lbs


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