Quinyon Mitchell

Eagles Draft CB Quinyon Mitchell At No. 22

The first cornerback has come off the board, and to little surprise the Eagles are the team to make the first move at the position. Philadelphia has selected Toledo cover man Quinyon Mitchell 22nd overall.

This selection comes after multiple reports tabbed Howie Roseman as exploring a move up the first-round board for a corner. The Eagles had traded up in four of the previous five first rounds, but the team — either unable to find a suitable trade or preferring to stay put based on how the board stacked up — stood pat and will begin developing the mid-major prospect to likely emerge as a starter. Age has become an issue for the NFC East club at this position.

Mitchell exploded onto the scene in his second full season as a starter. While leading the MAC in interceptions with five, two of which were returned for touchdowns, Mitchell earned first-team All-MAC honors. But he caught the national eye after leading the country in passes defensed with 25, helping him to earn second-team All-American honors. He followed that up with a strong 2023 season, as well, in which he recorded one interception and 19 passes defensed (leading the MAC) and earned the same All-MAC and All-American accolades.

The Eagles desperately needed help at cornerback. With Slay at 33 years old and James Bradberry turning 31 before the start of the 2024 season, Philadelphia was lacking effective youth at the cornerback position. Both players had down years in 2023, as well, with Slay ranking as Pro Football Focus’ 55th-best cornerback in the league and Bradberry ranking 100th. The Eagles may continue to start Slay and Bradberry, considering how much money they’ve sunk into the two, but expect Mitchell to find his way onto the field early and often as a rookie.

Mitchell becomes the first first-round draft pick out of Toledo since Dan Williams in 1993. Mitchell also becomes the Rockets’ second-highest draft pick in NFL history behind Williams, who was drafted 11th overall. He’ll look to join Kareem Hunt and Diontae Johnson as the next pick name out of Toledo in the NFL.

Ely Allen contributed to this post.

NFL Draft Rumors: Falcons, Jaguars, Browns

The Falcons top two sack-getters last year (Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree) are currently free agents. And while free safety Jessie Bates‘ first season in Atlanta went swimmingly with career highs in tackles (132), forced fumbles (3), and interceptions (6), as well as Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors, he seemed to be the only player showing up each Sunday for the Falcons.

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise to hear that adding draft prospects on the defensive side of the ball is expected to be a major focus for Atlanta come this week’s draft, according to Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network. In Caplan’s most recent mock draft, he slotted Alabama pass rusher Dallas Turner as the team’s first-round pick. Previous iterations of his mock draft saw Atlanta taking Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins and Florida State pass rusher Jared Verse.

Going pass rusher seems to make more sense after losing Campbell and Dupree to free agency, but expect multiple picks throughout the three-day event to address both positions. Turner is likely the preferred option as most see him as the top pass rusher on the board, but Verse or even UCLA’s Laiatu Latu could be the selection if Turner is drafted before they have the chance to claim him.

Here are a few other draft rumors from around the NFL:

Prospect Profile: Quinyon Mitchell

With these Prospect Profiles, we generally like to shine a spotlight on players who haven’t constantly been thrust into the national spotlight, prospects you likely haven’t been watching on primetime television. Enter Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell.

Toledo went eight years (2009-2016) with zero players drafted into the NFL. The Rockets exploded back onto the scene in 2017 with three players getting drafted, starting with former Chiefs third-round pick Kareem Hunt. Including the 2017 picks, Toledo has sent nine players to the NFL through the draft since then, featuring impact players like Hunt and Diontae Johnson. Mitchell has the chance not only to extend that recent lineage, but also to become the Rockets’ first Day 1 draft pick since Dan Williams in 1993.

Mitchell’s lack of a spotlight dates back to his early days in high school. Despite residing in the talent-rich state of Florida, Mitchell found himself at Williston HS, a small, 1A school south of Gainesville. Lost in the dregs of high school recruits, Mitchell was a consensus three-star athlete ranking so far down the boards that he avoided the attention of the state’s big three (Florida, FSU, Miami). 247Sports.com ranked Mitchell as the nation’s 114th best cornerback recruit.

Mitchell raked in a number of small school offers from the likes of Alcorn State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, South Dakota, and South Alabama before landing a couple offers from in-state FAU and USF. At a satellite recruiting camp, visiting Toledo coaches took note of Mitchell and delivered an offer. He committed to the Rockets, but a senior year offer from Illinois led Mitchell to consider his options before ultimately sticking with Toledo and heading north to Ohio.

At Toledo, academic struggles forced Mitchell to grayshirt his freshman year before the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season kept him mostly quiet in 2020, as well. Following the slow start, though, Mitchell came on strong as a full-time starter in 2022. Through the final three years of his college experience, in fact, Mitchell didn’t miss a single start, playing through a couple minor injuries to make 40 straight starts.

In his second season as a starter, Mitchell exploded onto the scene. While leading the MAC in interceptions with five, two of which were returned for touchdowns, Mitchell earned first-team All-MAC honors. But he caught the national eye after leading the country in passes defensed with 25, helping him to earn second-team All-American honors. He followed that up with a strong 2023 season, as well, in which he recorded one interception and 19 passes defensed (leading the MAC) and earned the same All-MAC and All-American accolades.

His elite ability to break up passes occurred all over the field. Not only did he display the speed and stickiness to stay with receivers down the field, but he also showed off an elite ability to read the quarterback and receiver and drive upfield to break up short comebacks and screens. He may have the best ball skills of any defensive back in this year’s draft. What’s almost as impressive as what he did with those skills, though, is what he didn’t do. Mitchell’s elite coverage was accompanied by elite restraint. During his two second-team All-American seasons, Mitchell drew only one penalty (a pass interference call in 2022).

It difficult to find holes in Mitchell’s game. The glaring red flag is obviously the lack of competition, though he did face off against a number of talented receivers, including top wide receiver prospect Marvin Harrison Jr., who beat him for a touchdown in 2022. There could be concern that Mitchell may not hold up as well against top-end receiver talent on a consistent basis. Also, due to the lack of talent around him, there isn’t a ton of film on Mitchell in hard press coverage. In order to help cover more of the field, Mitchell was often in zone or off-man coverage. Teams will want to get him coached up on press techniques early. Similarly, Mitchell lacks experience in the slot, playing almost exclusively on the outside in college.

At the NFL scouting combine, Mitchell only improved his draft stock. He showed off speed that we already knew was there with a 4.33-second 40-yard dash. He also displayed a surprising strength and explosiveness in the bench press and jumps that, while not elite, were very impressive. Everything he did in Indianapolis was just a confirmation of what he’s put on film at Toledo for the last two years.

Mitchell is almost certain to become the Rockets’ first first-round selection in 31 years. Both ESPN’s Matt Miller and Dane Brugler of The Athletic have Mitchell ranked as the second-best cornerback prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft behind only Alabama’s Terrion Arnold. Brugler ranks Mitchell as the draft’s 11th best prospect, while Miller ranks him slightly lower at 15th.

Mitchell is an NFL-ready cornerback likely to start immediately wherever he is chosen to go. Team’s will be tempted to utilize his elite abilities on special teams, something he excelled at with Toledo, but his elite speed and ball skills will immediately become a factor on some mid-first round team’s defense. Mitchell is finally about to step into the spotlight, and how he handles it will determine whether or not Toledo has produced another unexpected NFL contributor.

Latest On Eagles’ First-Round Options

The Eagles were able to avoid the hangover that has often haunted past Super Bowl runner ups, making the playoffs last year after an 11-6 regular season before falling in the Wild Card round to the Buccaneers. As a result, they hold the 22nd pick of the 2024 NFL Draft and will now be tasked with finding a player at that value to help them get back to the big game.

So, the question becomes: where on the roster could the Eagles use the most improvement? Cornerback has been a common position people have pointed to in Philadelphia, one of those people being Ralph Vacchiano of FOX Sports, and this year’s crop of draft prospects is well-suited to fill that need.

The team’s starters, Darius Slay (33) and James Bradberry (31), are aging and struggled in 2023, as did oft-injured veteran Avonte Maddox. Slay missed the final four games of the regular season and didn’t perform well in his playoff return. Bradberry rebounded horribly from his 2022 second-team All-Pro selection. After grading out as the league’s 27th best cornerback in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Bradberry ranked 100th of 127 graded corners in 2023.

Maddox had been released and re-signed after an injury-riddled 2022 season then only appeared in four games in 2023. The Eagles have young prospects in Kelee Ringo, Eli Ricks, and Josh Jobe who show promise, but none seem ready to take on a full-time role.

There are about four cornerbacks expected to go in the first round, and thanks to likely early runs at offensive positions, a number of them should still be around by the time Philadelphia selects. Top cornerback prospects like Alabama’s Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry, Clemson’s Nate Wiggins, Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell, and Iowa’s Cooper DeJean all stand a decent chance at becoming the Eagles’ first cornerback taken in the first round since Lito Sheppard in 2002.

ESPN’s Matt Miller offered up another possibility if Philadelphia opts not to draft a cornerback. Although not necessarily a position of need, Miler suggests that offensive tackle may be a target for the Eagles, pointing specifically to Oklahoma tackle Tyler Guyton, who has been training with Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, a fellow Sooner. Philadelphia boasted an impressive bookend with Jordan Mailata and Johnson ranking as the league’s third- and 13th-best tackle in the league, per PFF. So why would they draft a tackle?

Miller points to the teams handling of Jason Kelce, whose eventual retirement seemed to loom every offseason. They attempted to stay ahead of the decision, drafting Nebraska center Cam Jurgens with the 2022 second-round pick. Miller see them potentially doing the same with Johnson, who turns 34 years old shortly after the draft. Guyton may be able to come in and essentially redshirt until a job opens up for him to take over.

NFL Draft Rumors: Tackles, Senior Bowl, Rakestraw

The 2024 NFL Draft class may feel relatively light at certain positions like quarterback and running back, but there’s one position that has scouts and coaches excited. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, this year’s offensive tackles group has the potential to match 2020’s class, which saw six tackles selected in the first round.

Four names have been regarded as likely first-rounders for about a year now, so the projections of Notre Dame’s Joe Alt (ranks 6th overall in Dane Brugler of The Athletic’s top 100 prospects), Penn State’s Olu Fashanu (9th), Alabama’s JC Latham (13th), and Georgia’s Amarius Mims (17th) come as no surprise. After some impressive performances in Mobile, Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga (16th) and Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton (18th) have joined those four in the range of the first round.

The top-end depth doesn’t end there, either. There are several other prospects that sit just outside that first-round range in Brugler’s rankings that still find themselves in consideration to be Day 1 picks because of strong Senior Bowl performances and a general interest in the position. Arizona’s Jordan Morgan (32nd), Houston’s Patrick Paul (55th), and Texas’ Christian Jones (NR) all sit on that fringe, according to Fowler.

With these nine guys and still more others pushing for Day 1 money, we’re bound to see a change in recent trends of five or fewer tackles taken in the first round. Even if this year’s class fails to match 2020’s six first-round picks, which seems unlikely as of now, the depth in the first two rounds of this class have a lot of teams excited about what’s available.

Here are a couple of other draft rumors from around the country, starting with more updates out of Mobile:

  • In a mailbag Q&A this week, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer gave his take on some prospects who improved their standing after this year’s Senior Bowl. Breer sees Fuaga and Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell (11th in Brugler’s rankings) as big risers coming out of Mobile. While both players were already expected to be Day 1 picks, Breer believes that they’ve played their way into the top half of the first round. He also touts Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson (45th) as a recent riser. While Wilson may not hear his name called in the first round, Breer thinks he may have pushed his way up to the second.
  • One player who wasn’t able to improve his stock at the Senior Bowl was Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw (48th). Rakestraw had been dealing with a core muscle injury for much of his redshirt junior year before opting to undergo surgery at the close of the season in December, according to Matt Miller of ESPN. After missing out on the college all-star game due to the surgery, Rakestraw, who has been considered a fringe first-rounder, was unable to secure his potential Day 1 status. The young corner has shown a resiliency in coming back from an ACL tear his sophomore year, but his injury history may be enough to push him into the second round.