The Dallas Cowboys will undoubtedly try to upgrade the cornerback position in the NFL Draft. They’ll have some nice pieces to choose from, especially in the earlier rounds. Florida’s CJ Henderson, regarded as the second-best cornerback in the draft, has been a popular name linked to the Cowboys with the 17th pick. Another name is Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, who like Henderson, would instantly give the Cowboys their CB1. However, Ohio State’s Damon Arnette could be a steal for the Cowboys if they wait until the second round to grab a corner.
After he redshirted his freshman year in 2015, Arnette was a reserve defensive back a year later racking up 21 tackles and an interception in 13 games played. As a redshirt sophomore, he would start in 12 of the Buckeyes 14 games and end the season with 44 tackles, eight passes defended, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. His redshirt junior season was another good one with 40 tackles, six passes defended, and an interception. In 2019, Arnette appeared in 11 games and had the best season of his college career. He would finish with 35 tackles, eight passes defended, a forced fumble, and an interception that he took 96 yards for a touchdown. For his efforts, Arnette was named second-team All-Big Ten.
Ohio State CB Damon Arnette hasn't given up more than 1 TD in any of his four full collegiate seasons. pic.twitter.com/LL7zMusbPM
Ohio State CB Damon Arnette: Lowest passer rating allowed in single coverage in the NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/nz7h7Hh2ZF
Arnette would be a great fit for a few reasons. For one, he has experience playing on the outside as well as the slot. This will allow the Cowboys to come up with different combinations for multiple packages in coverage. Second, it gives the Cowboys much-needed depth at the position considering after Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown there isn’t a lot of value. Lastly, the Cowboys would be getting an ultra-tough competitor who can play with pain (played most of the 2019 season with a broken wrist).
The top cornerback in this year’s draft, Arnette’s teammate Jeff Okudah, talked about how Ohio State wouldn’t have been the same team without the toughness, leadership, and mindset of Arnette in 2019 just before the Big Ten Championship Game vs Wisconsin.
“I think it’s really commendable what he’s been able to do,” Okudah said. “He’s been playing with a lot of pain, but he’s putting the team before himself. He’s been in a lot of pain this year, and I think for him to go out there and have his best season yet with those circumstances is crazy.
“It’s just a testament to the Brotherhood … and he kind of sets the mentality for the defense — really even the whole team. Without him, I think we’d be a completely different team.”
Watch “Ohio State CB Damon Arnette Highlights 🔒⬇️ ᴴᴰ” on YouTube
“Inside/outside cornerback with NFL size and strength but a lack of fluidity and burst that might make him best-suited as a zone corner. Arnette will be at a disadvantage against vertical jackrabbits and will struggle to stay connected to NFL routes in man. However, he plays with good awareness in space and has the physicality in run support that zone defenses look for. His potential and success could be directly tied to what a team asks of him, which makes his evaluation and grade more of a sliding scale depending upon scheme fit.”
He may not be the biggest name in regards to cornerbacks in the draft but Arnette has the potential to be one of the most productive long-term and would really improve the Cowboys secondary.