The Detroit Lions may have gotten the steal of the NFL draft with Terrion Arnold at No. 25

The Detroit Lions couldn't resist trading up in the first round from No. 29 to No. 25 to grab Terrion Arnold as cornerbacks slid into the 20s of the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit.
Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Terrion Arnold
Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Terrion Arnold / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft was unlike any other in league history. The combination of covid eligibility and the transfer portal created a unique double class of quarterbacks with veterans like Jayden Daniels, Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix joining Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and J.J. McCarthy in the first 12 picks. 

There was also an unusual amount of first-round talent at offensive tackle and wide receiver, two of the most premium positions on that side of the ball. Previously, the 2021 NFL Draft held the record for the latest that the first defensive player came off the board when Jaycee Horn went No. 8 overall to the Carolina Panthers. This year, that record was shattered with Laiatu Latu, the first defensive player selected, going No. 15 to the Indianapolis Colts and pushed Alabama’s defensive prospects down the board. 

JC Latham was part of the offensive tackle run, going at No. 7 overall to the Tennessee Titans, but Dallas Turner slid to No. 17 with the Minnesota Vikings, who traded up to get him. Then, the Detroit Lions did the same to grab Terrion Arnold at No. 25. Arnold was the second cornerback drafted and might have been the steal of the first round. 

Last year, Cameron Sutton was Detroit’s No. 1 cornerback, but after allowing 77 receptions for 1,173 yards in coverage on 113 targets, Sutton was released and is currently dealing with legal troubles for a domestic situation. So, the Lions, who were a game away from the Super Bowl, desperately needed a lockdown No. 1 corner and may have gotten one. 

In his final season at Alabama, Arnold was projected as CB2 behind Kool-Aid McKinstry, so opposing offenses went right at him. Arnold was targeted a team-high 79 times and responded by allowing just 41 catches for 441 yards with 13 pass breakups and five interceptions. Nick Saban absolutely loved Arnold and praised him on the College Gameday broadcast from Detroit on Thursday before mentioning that McKinstry may have to move to safety in the NFL.

Detroit couldn’t resist trading up from No. 29 to 25 to grab a ball-hawking lockdown corner who can solidify their secondary. His versatility is an asset for Detroit’s defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, but his competitive spirit and toughness are likely what appealed to head coach Dan Campbell. He’ll be a perfect fit, not just for the Lions defense, but for the team’s culture and could blossom into a star. 

The San Francisco 49ers are the team that Detroit must get through in the NFC and on Thursday, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch drafted another wide receiver, Florida’s Ricky Pearsall at No. 31. If San Fran holds onto both Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel this offseason, then that makes the Arnold pick that much more important for a potential NFC Championship rematch.

Next. JC Latham may be forced into a position change at Tennessee. JC Latham may be forced into a position change with Tennessee. dark