The Ennis Rakestraw selection forces a complicated reaction

Analyzing the Detroit Lions selection of Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw is a complex exercise. His profile, fit and selection circumstance definitely conjure mixed feelings. There’s quite a bit to really love, but also some important questions that need to get answered but won’t get resolved overnight.

Let’s get into the talented outside cornerback from Missouri.

Rakestraw was the No. 56 player on my big board, which inherently makes the pick a solid value from my perspective. He’s a player who should rank higher for the Lions because of his style of play; Rakestraw is an aggressive, straight press-man cornerback on the outside, not a zone coverage guy and not a slot. He’s a smart player on and off the field, and he relishes the challenge of going up against the opponent’s top weapon. He’s got

I do have concerns with Rakestraw. It starts with his durability. He missed most of the 2021 season with a torn ACL, then missed four games last year with a groin injury. He had core muscle surgery this offseason for a separate injury, which kept him out of the Senior Bowl. Rakestraw weighs just 183 pounds on a lanky 5-foot-11 frame that really does look taller in person.

The other concern is with his recovery speed. As I noted in his prospect breakdown,

“Top-end speed isn’t great and he lacks a chase gear when beaten; the 4.54 40-time at the combine shows on tape.”

The good thing about Rakestraw is that he knows his own game well enough to adapt to playing with below-average top speed. He’s very physical at the line and uses his strength and body positioning very well to prevent clean releases for receivers. He also gets a little grabby, something that will need to get cleaned up–and something true of many college CBs.

So, scheme fit: check. Grit fit: big check. It’s very easy to see why the Lions and Holmes loved him and couldn’t resist taking him even though they just traded a third-round pick to move up and take Arnold and traded another third-round pick for Carlton Davis earlier this offseason. All three are at their best playing the exact same spot…and that’s where the other concern creeps in.

I’ll know better how I feel about this pick in a couple of years when we all see how Rakestraw is working out in relative comparison to some of the other players who were available that I would have taken over him in Detroit at No. 61. Among those I’ll be keeping a comparative eye on:

Rakestraw is a good player, no doubt about it. I’m bullish on what he can do in Detroit if he stays healthy and cleans up his grabbiness to meet NFL officiating standards. However, double-dipping in the first two rounds at the same position is risky when there’s so little depth along the offensive line, safety and defensive interior.

Cornerback depth thins out after 2024, too, and that’s when the evaluation clock really begins on Rakestraw and his selection here. Fingers crossed.


Story originally appeared on Lions Wire