Detroit Lions wait, then pounce to trade up for cornerback Terrion Arnold

The Detroit Lions waited patiently, then pounced to trade up for Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold.
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions had a wide array of options on Thursday night. With a run of offensive players starting the first round, defensive players naturally tumbled. That was good news for any team with primary needs on the defensive side of the ball.

Then the Dallas Cowboys were on the clock with the 24th overall pick, and Brad Holmes made his customary first round trade. Giving up No. 29 overall and No. 73 overall (third round) and also getting a 2025 seventh-round pick in the deal, the Lions moved up five spots and selected Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold.

Before the first round started, Matt Broder of Woodward Sports reported the Lions would "aggressively pursue" a trade up for Arnold if he fell past pick No. 18.

The second cornerback off the board, after Quinyon Mitchell (No. 22 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles), Arnold had a strong case as the best cornerback in this year's draft and was that for some draft analysts. He posted the 13th-best overall Pro Football Focus grade among college cornerbacks last season (88.4), with an 84.9 coverage grade and a 90.6 run defense grade(third-best). He allowed a 50.7 passer rating in his coverage last year (41 receptions allowed on 79 targets, per PFF), with five interceptions and 12 pass breakups.

Dane Brugler of Athletic and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network have Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson as their comp for Arnold.

Arnold will reunite in the Lions' secondary with former Alabama teammate Brian Branch, and of course Branch reacted to the pick.

Arnold is also the fourth Alabama player the Lions have taken in the last three drafts, following Jameson Williams (2022), Jahmyr Gibbs (2023) and Branch (2023).

Lions get long-term answer at cornerback with Terrion Arnold

Pending a potential contract extension for trade acquisition Carlton Davis, the Lions only had Amik Robertson and Steven Gilmore as outside cornerbacks under contract past 2024 heading into the draft. Arnold now gives them a long-term option there, and by all indications he has the character, confidence and skill set the Lions want at cornerback.