Lions Warned to Bypass ‘Divisive’ CB in NFL Draft

Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

Getty Bleacher Report's Alex Ballentine argued the Detroit Lions shouldn't draft Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

The Detroit Lions have used several resources this offseason to address cornerback. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Lions add another cornerback, though, in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft. But if they do, Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine argued it shouldn’t be Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

Ballentine named Rakestraw the one prospect the Lions should avoid in the 2024 NFL draft.

Ennis Rakestraw III is one of the more divisive cornerback prospects in this year’s class,” Ballentine wrote. “The Missouri Tiger is in nearly a quarter of mock drafts as a first-round pick, per NFL Mock Draft Database, but he’s ranked 97th overall on our big board.”

Bleacher Report’s consensus rankings have Rakestraw ranked 13th among all cornerbacks in the 2024 class.

But as Ballentine noted, he’s getting a lot more respect from other outlets. ESPN’s consensus rankings have Rakestraw rated at No. 32 overall, including sixth among cornerbacks.

The Pro Football Focus big board has him ranked 46th overall and seventh at cornerback.

In nine games last season, Rakestraw posted 4 pass defenses, 1 forced fumble and 35 total tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He had 12 pass defenses during his junior season in 2022.

Lions Should Avoid Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw Jr.: Analyst

Ballentine wrote that if Rakestraw becomes a first-round pick, landing with the Lions at No. 29 overall is a strong possibility. Ballentine admitted that makes sense because there are traits to like about the Missouri cornerback.

Even Bleacher Report’s Cory Giddings praised Rakestraw for his “quick feet” and “smooth hips.”

But according to Bleacher Report, the concerns outweigh the positives.

“For one, Giddings noted that Rakestraw has a tendency to “get too handsy,” which can lead to pass interference calls,” Ballentine wrote. “That could be even more pronounced in the NFL, where he’s going to face bigger receivers on a regular basis.

“Overall, Rakestraw eventually might be limited to the slot only. That’s not a great outcome for a first-round pick.”

The Lions don’t need another slot cornerback. Last year, they drafted cornerback Brian Branch in the second round, and he had a very solid rookie season playing in the slot.

At outside cornerback, Detroit signed Amik Robertson in free agency and traded for Carlton Davis this offseason. But neither is signed beyond 2025.

The Lions could sign Davis to a long-term extension. But if Detroit targets a cornerback in the first round this year, it will be with the intention that he develops into an outside starter.

Ballentine doubts Rakestraw can be that guy.

Other Potential CB Targets for Lions

Just because Ballentine warned Detroit not to draft Rakestraw doesn’t mean he has ruled out cornerback altogether for the Lions at No. 29.

Instead of Rakestraw, Ballentine argued the Lions should consider targeting cornerbacks Khyree Jackson or T.J. Tampa.

Jackson had 3 interceptions and 7 pass defenses at Oregon last season. Tampa had 2 interceptions and 7 pass defenses in 2023 for Iowa State.

Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry could be another possibility for the Lions at No. 29. The consensus rankings at ESPN and PFF have McKinstry rated between No. 26-28 among all prospects.

The Lions could also wait until Day 2 to select a cornerback. CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli predicted the Lions to target Michigan’s Mike Sainristil at No. 29 overall in a mock draft on February 23.

It’s unlikely Sainristil will be selected in the first round, but the Lions could target him in the second or third round.

It’s worth noting, though, that ESPN has Rakestraw ranked ahead of all of those prospects except McKinstry on its cornerback rankings. PFF has McKinstry and Sainristil ahead of Rakestraw but not Jackson or Tampa.

The remaining question is what the 2024 cornerback rankings look like for the Lions.

Read More