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10 Cornerback Prospects the Bolts Could Target in 2024 Draft


Welcome to Part 5 of our 2024 draft preview series, which will be a position-by-position look at key prospects and where the Chargers roster stands ahead of the NFL Draft. This series will include a look at which prospects could be options for the Chargers later this month.

We chatted with draft analyst Lance Zierlein to break down the cornerbacks in this draft class. Zierlein, who has covered the draft over the years, can be found on X/Twitter @LanceZierlein for his analysis.

Chargers status at CB

Kristian Fulton, Matt Hankins, Deane Leonard, Asante Samuel, Jr., Ja'Sir Taylor, Chris Wilcox

The Chargers cornerback group has undergone a bit of reshaping this offseason.

Led by Asante Samuel, Jr., no one in the unit is over the age of 26 — but they do have plenty of game experience.

Samuel has been steady for the Bolts for three seasons now, playing in 46 games (43 starts) and notching two interceptions and double digit passes defensed in each year of his career.

He spearheads a group that also includes Kristian Fulton, who was signed at the end of March.

Fulton has four seasons of NFL experience under his belt and provides some solid depth in the room alongside Samuel.

A pair of 2022 draft picks round out the group with Ja'Sir Taylor and Deane Leonard.

Taylor became a regular on the defensive side of the ball and played in 16 games in 2023, starting six of them. He's played primarily in the slot, but also shown the ability to play anywhere on the field and has been a crucial member of the special teams unit as well.

Leonard, like Taylor, has been a special teams ace since arriving, but saw valuable reps in the middle of last season on defense.

The Bolts also have Matt Hankins and Chris Wilcox on the roster, both whom spent last season on the practice squad.

Is CB a position of need?

Even with the experience the young group of corners have, Zierlein believes that additions could be in play when the draft rolls around.

And it could be one of the positions the Bolts address early.

"More is needed at the cornerback position," Zierlein said. "There's just not enough depth at that position. I think it's definitely in need of more competition.

"You want to have at least four good cornerbacks on your roster if possible, so I would say that clearly needs to be something that's prioritized in the first three rounds," Zierlein added.

He could also see that position be addressed twice in the draft, citing the nine picks the Chargers currently have.

"I could absolutely see [picking two corners]," Zierlein said. "Looking at the depth, I think there's room to challenge for two spots minimum. I would think about drafting twice.

"I would probably make that one of my priorities," Zierlein added. "One inside the first two days and one on Day 3."

Key draft questions

1. There's two top corners at the top of the draft in Terrion Arnold and Quinyon Mitchell. Who do you give the edge to and how close is the race to be the first CB taken?

"I think it's going to be really close. I think I give the edge to Mitchell because he has a little bit better size and he's faster. I would say when it comes to traits, height, weight, size, I would say small advantage to Mitchell. Obviously the quality of competition Arnold faces makes him more game-ready, but in terms of the long term value, it may be a small advantage to Quinyon Mitchell."

2. Who is a cornerback prospect the Chargers could target after the first day of the draft?

"It's interesting because their starting corners are bot sub-6 foot, but not but my much. I would say maybe Ennis Rakestraw, Jr., from Missouri would be a guy I would take a look at. Kamari Lassiter from Georgia is another one who comes to mind. I would say in the third round, Kris Abrams-Draine. I think he could be a third-round pick. And then I like Elijah Jones from Boston College as a second or third-round pick. Those are some of the guys that I'm looking at."

Expert rankings

Jeremiah currently has seven cornerbacks in his latest overall Top 50 list, while ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has five in his Top 25.

The Athletic's Dane Brugler has 12 cornerbacks in his most recent Top 100 list, with the highest coming in at No. 10 (Arnold).

Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus has 14 cornerbacks in the top 100 in their Big Board Rankings, with a highest of No. 9 (Cooper DeJean).

Potential Chargers options

Note: Heights and weights are from each player's profile on (linked for each player's name).


School: Alabama | Year: Redshirt Sophomore | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt: 189 pounds

2023 stats: 14 games; 63 tackles (40 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 17 passes defensed, 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble

Quick fact: Arnold was one of the most important players on the Crimson Tide's defense in his two seasons of action. A First-Team All-American in 2023, he was tied for the most interceptions in the SEC with five.

Mitchell CB

School: Toledo | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-0 | Wt: 195 pounds

2023 stats: 13 games; 40 tackles (31 solo), 1.0 tackles for loss, 19 passes defensed, 1 interception, 1 blocked kick

Quick fact: Mitchell finished his career as Toledo's all-time leader in career pass breakups with 46 and was also a two-time First-Team All-MAC selection. He became the first Rocket ever to be named in all five major outlets' All-America teams in his career.

DeJean 1

School: Iowa | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-0 ½ | Wt: 203 pounds

2023 stats: 10 games; 41 tackles (26 solo), 2.0 tackles for loss, 7 passes defensed, 2 interceptions

Quick fact: DeJean was a consensus All-American and earned Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year honors after an impressive junior season. He showed prowess in the return game as well, ranking second in the Big Ten with 21 punt returns for 240 yards in 2023.


School: Clemson | Year: Junior | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt: 173 pounds

2023 stats: 10 games; 29 tackles (23 solo), 1.0 sack, 2.0 tackles for loss, 8 passes defensed, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles

Quick fact: Wiggins was an important member of the Tigers defense over three seasons as one of their top corners. It culminated in 2023 when Wiggins earned First-Team All-ACC after leading the team in pass breakups and forcing two fumbles.

McKinstry CB

School: Alabama | Year: Junior | Ht: 5-foot-11½ | Wt: 199 pounds

2023 stats: 14 games; 32 tackles (24 solo), 2.0 tackles for loss, 7 passes defensed

Quick fact: McKinstry was a First-Team All-American by multiple outlets during his final season at Alabama. He contributed on special teams as well during his time with the Crimson Tide, picking up honors as a punt returner.


School: Georgia | Year: Junior | Ht: 5-foot-11 ½ | Wt: 186 pounds

2023 stats: 14 games; 37 tackles (21 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, 8 passes defensed

Quick fact: A two-time National Champion with the Bulldogs, Lassiter played in every game during the school's run to consecutive titles. He led the team with eight pass breakups in 2023 enroute to Second-Team All-SEC honors.

Zierlein's Take: "He's fluid, so he can cover a lot of different types of wide receivers. I think he can cover inside and outside, he has the ability to press, he can play man or zone and then in terms of his NFL run support duties, he's a physical guy in run support."

TJ Tampa

School: Iowa State | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt: 189 pounds

2023 stats: 12 games; 44 tackles (33 solo), 3.0 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 9 passes defensed

Quick fact: Tampa became first Cyclone defensive back to earn All-America honors since 2018 during his final season at the school. He earned All-Big 12 honors twice and was named an Honorable Mention for All-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2023.


School: Oregon | Year: Senior | Ht: 6-foot-4 | Wt: 194 pounds

2023 stats: 12 games; 34 tackles (25 solo), 5.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 3 interceptions, 10 passes defensed

Quick fact: Jackson spent his final collegiate season at Oregon after attending Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College as well as Alabama. He earned All-Pac-12 First-eam honors in his lone season with the Ducks and led the team with three interceptions.

Zierlein's Take: "Jackson has really good size, kind of rare size and strength. He's got great measurables but hasn't played a lot of football during his career so he's not really technically sound as he needs to be right now. He's really good with contested catches. I think finding the right scheme fit for him is going to be the real key because he's got the size and strength to maybe be a bump and run corner. You have to be ready to allow him to develop into who he's going to be at least with a year or two of continuing to learn the position."


School: Michigan | Year: Senior | Ht: 5-foot-9 | Wt: 182 pounds

2023 stats: 15 games; 44 tackles (26 solo), 5.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 6 interceptions, 12 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles

Quick fact: Sainristil did it all with the Wolverines playing in 62 games at wide receiver, defensive back and on special teams. He made 34 total starts with nine on offense and 25 on defense. He earned two All-Big Ten selections after switching to the defensive side in 2022.

Zierlein's Take: "He's a pure nickel corner, explosive tester. He is a very explosive guy, good speed, he's going to check out in terms of all the physical checkmarks that you're looking for. Has a really good football demeanor… He's a little bit light by nickel standards in the NFL but he is tough enough, he is a great athlete and he is a very twitchy short-area guy that has the ability to make plays on the football."


School: Rutgers | Year: Senior | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt: 187 pounds

2023 stats: 12 games; 32 tackles (21 solo), 4.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, 3 interceptions, 9 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery

Quick fact: Melton was one of the more experienced members of the Scarlet Knight defense, playing in 43 games and starting 40 of them. He earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors with three interceptions in 2023.

Zierlein's Take: "An inside, outside cornerback. He improved every year at Rutgers, he's got a great physical and athletic profile. All of those things are good, I just think he needs to get better in terms of his technique and coverage and play with a little bit better control in a general sense when he's playing man coverage. Because he has the great physical tools and athletic profile, it gives him a better chance to recover and guard a variety of players in the NFL because he can play inside and he can play outside."

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