Cardinals take hands-on approach with top CB prospect Terrion Arnold at NFL Draft Combine

Feb 29, 2024, 12:28 PM | Updated: 4:36 pm

Terrion Arnold talks to reporters at 2024 NFL Scouting Combine...

Terrion Arnold #DB02 of the Alabama Crimson Tide speaks to the media during the 2024 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on February 29, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

During the week of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, teams around the league will use different ways to vet draft prospects.

In addition to watching tape and talking shop, the Chicago Bears this year have implemented a test that revolves around putting and darts.

The Arizona Cardinals appear to be taking a more hands-on approach, at least when it comes down to Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold.

“I met with them. It went really good,” Arnold told reporters at the combine on Thursday. “They wanted me to show them how I pressed. They told me to get up there and demonstrate my press technique.

“I said, ‘Coach, you want me to hit you for real?’ He said, ‘Hit me for real,’ so I hit him. I jammed him.”

Naturally, the first thought goes to Cardinals head coach and former defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon, though he’s far from the only one to go the extra mile in coaching up his players.

All jokes aside, landing someone of Arnold’s caliber could help mightily in shoring up the cornerbacks room.

The 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback put his name on the first-round map last year behind an SEC-leading five interceptions and was second in the conference with 12 passes defensed. He also chipped in 63 tackles, 6.5 of which were for losses and a forced fumble.

He primarily lined up out wide throughout his two seasons at Alabama, though saw more run in the slot this past season. He saw 205 snaps out of the slot compared to 557 out wide, per Pro Football Focus.

NFL Draft prospect Terrion Arnold’s ‘Michael Jordan moment’

Arnold’s play in 2023 was a big step up from the year prior (one interception, one tackle for loss, eight passes defensed). The adversity he faced and overcame in 2022 remains a big reason for where he’s at today.

“At Alabama in 2022, my redshirt freshmen year, after we played Tennessee, I got benched. I’ve been telling all the NFL teams that that right there, it changed everything for me,” Arnold said. “I kind of like to say I had my Michael Jordan moment.

“I write it down every day. Eli Ricks, that’s my brother, but when I got replaced and benched for him, it motivated me. I write it down every day and say I refuse to ever let that happen again. That’s what is going to lead me and take me to getting that gold jacket, which is the Hall of Fame. I’m not talking about the one you can buy.”

What’s it going to take for the Arizona Cardinals to take Terrion Arnold in the 2024 NFL Draft?

Given where the Cardinals sit in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Nos. 4 and 27 overall, landing Arnold in April is going to take some maneuvering on general manager Monti Ossenfort’s part.

In ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s second mock draft of the offseason, he has Arnold going 15th overall to the Indianapolis Colts and classifies the cornerback as a potential Day 1 starter.

Fellow ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller has Arnold as his seventh-ranked prospect in 2024 and compares him to Seattle Seahawks CB Devon Witherspoon.

For Ossenfort and the Cardinals, adding Arnold’s talents would most likely mean moving down from No. 4 or up from No. 27.

And while Arnold would provide an immediate boost to the room, adding some veteran presence alongside a grouping that already includes second-year pros Garrett Williams, Starling Thomas and Kei’Trel Clark should still be on Arizona’s offseason to-do list if the Cardinals nab the Alabama corner.

Arizona Cardinals kicking the tires on Iowa DB Cooper DeJean

Arnold isn’t the only top cornerback prospect catching the Cardinals’ eye this week.

Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean has met with the franchise “a couple of times” and sounds like he knows a thing or two about a certain Cardinals playmaker.

“I’ve talked to them a couple times throughout the whole process,” the 6-foot-1, 203-pounder said at the combine on Thursday. “Budda Baker’s a guy I’ve watched quite a bit just the way he plays the game and how hard he plays it. He’s a lot of fun to watch for sure.”

The Cardinals, however, could be in a similar boat that they would be in with Arnold. DeJean is being viewed as a mid-first-round pick by Kiper and others this offseason. The draft analyst also considers DeJean as his No. 1-ranked cornerback in the draft.

DeJean is coming off 41 tackles, two of which were for losses, two interceptions and five passes defensed across 10 games played. He spent most of his time on the outside, accumulating 630 of his 872 total snaps out wide, per PFF.

He also served as Iowa’s punt returner in 2023, taking back 21 kicks for 241 yards and a touchdown.

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