Los Angeles Chargers Draft: Best Cornerback Targets For All 7 Rounds

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The Los Angeles Chargers added a stop-gap measure, Kristian Fulton, in free agency, but they still have plenty of work to do to ensure the defense gets this team into playoff contention. As team general manager, Joe Hortiz puts it, “We’re always shopping for corners,” Hortiz said, adding, “We’ll sign corners, we’ll draft corners and we’ll always be looking for corners. That’s a position you never stop chasing.”

Los Angeles Chargers GM Reveals Draft Priority, “A Position You Never Stop Chasing”

Round 1: Overall Pick 5

With the 5th pick in the draft, the Chargers will have their pick of any cornerback they like. So, a tradeback could be in the cards if they want to go in this direction. There is precedence for Jim Harbaugh going after defensive backs in the draft. The San Francisco 49ers traded 31 and 74 to move up to 18 to get Eric Reid in 2013.

Terrion Arnold, Alabama: Arnold overtook, Kool-Aid McKinstry, as the top CB prospect in the draft as the 2023 season progressed. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, calls him ‘a carbon copy of Jaylon Johnson.’

Arnold is every bit of an impressive athlete, but his technique, IQ, and instincts are his best traits. Those traits have translated into production. In 25 games he had 20 passes defended and six interceptions, five in 2023 alone.

He brings inside and outside versatility. Given the state of the Charger’s depth at the position, they could certainly use that!

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Round 2: Overall Pick 37

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Los Angeles Chargers Draft Prospect: Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama: There is a very real chance that four corners are taken in the first round. And don’t get it twisted, McKinstry is just as talented as his teammate, but his draft stock plummeted because expectations were so high.

Part of the problem is proof that he could actually be the best corner in the draft. McKinstry had a break out season in 2022. He had 15 passes defended in just 13 games. He was targeted 80 times and allowed just 37 receptions. In 2023, quarterbacks stopped throwing his way, seeing just 39 targets all season. He continued his success allowing just 19 receptions, but the consequence was that his production dropped off and he was seen as taking a step back.

Malik Nabers supposedly has been telling NFL scouts that McKinstry was the best cornerback he faced in college.

Round 3: Overall Pick 69

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Los Angeles Chargers Draft Prospect: Melanie Maxwell / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Melanie Maxwell / USA TODAY NETWORK

Mike Sainristil, Michigan: Sainristil started at Michigan as a wide receiver, only moving to cornerback for his 4th and 5th years. He capped off his final year with a bang, nabbing six interceptions in 15 games, including one in the CFP Championship game.

He is twitched up and explosive with 10 10-yard split, vertical, and broad jump in the top quarter of all cornerbacks. He is undersized at 5’9″ and 182 lbs and the Chargers biggest need is an outside cornerback, so it may not be the best fit for the Chargers at the moment, but he could be a successor to Ja’Sir Taylor in the slot. H

Sainristil will need time to develop more as a cornerback. It may be a longer-term play, but one that will pay off.

Round 4: Overall Pick 105

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Missouri at Ohio State
Los Angeles Chargers Draft Prospect: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri: At 5’11” and 173 lbs, many wouldn’t guess Abrams-Draine to be the ball hawk that he is. In 38 games he logged 34 passes defended and seven interceptions. With 4.4 speed and fluid hips, he can also keep up with the best NFL receivers. Of course, bodying up to big receivers will be a problem

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Round 5: Overall Pick 140

NCAA Football: Utah at Southern California
Los Angeles Chargers Draft Prospect: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Roland-Wallace, USC: Roland-Wallace lacks pure athletic talent, but has a ton of experience playing in 54 games over five seasons. He plays a physical brand of defense and is effective in knocking receivers off their routes. He allowed just 23 catches on 53 targets.

Round 6: Overall Pick 181

NCAA Football: Louisville at Mississippi
Los Angeles Chargers Draft Prospect: Brett Davis-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Deantre Prince, Ole Miss: Prince is a 4-year starter for the Rebels. At 6′, 183lbs, and sub 4.4 speed, he is a good combination of size and speed. He often relies too heavily on his speed, rather than sound technique.

Round 7: Overall Pick 225

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Pittsburgh
Los Angeles Chargers Draft Prospect: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Shyheim Battle, N.C. State: Battle is quicker than he is fast and is a big physical cornerback who doesn’t mind mixing it up with any wide receiver. His playing style can get him in trouble, particularly with referees. His downfield speed will also be a limitation.