As with several other position groups, the New York Giants have holes in their secondary. They still need to find answers to nickel corner and free safety, but that isn’t for lack of trying. The Giants have been unable to keep an answer at free safety for a decade, and they have tried players at nickel corner but haven’t yet found a fit.
Ohio State’s Damon Arnette has been overshadowed by the emergence of Jeffrey Okudah this year, but he is an experienced and versatile player. He has the skill set and experience to play both outside as well as in the slot, and in zone coverage as well as man. Could Arnette finally give the Giants a long-term answer for what is an increasingly important “back-up” role?
Prospect: Damon Arnette (CB, Ohio State)
Games Watched: vs. Michigan (2018), vs. Indiana (2019), vs. Michigan State (2019), vs. Clemson (2019)
Red Flags: none
Games Played: 47
Tackles For a loss: 4.0
Forced Fumbles: 2
Passes Defensed: 22
Games Played: 11
Tackles For a loss: 1
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 8
Best: Ball Skills, physicality, versatility, experience
Worst: Athleticism, length
Projection: A third corner with scheme versatility who can be a spot starter.
Ohio State cornerback has Damon Arnette is a smart, aggressive, instinctive, and scheme diverse prospect. Arnette played in a variety of alignments and coverage shells in the Buckeye’s defense, lining up on the left, right, and in the slot, as well as in press, man, off, and zone coverages. He is an active communicator before the snap and shows a good understanding of route combinations and concepts.
Arnette is physical and controlled in man coverage, using a stiff jam to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage and subtle moves to stay in phase throughout the route. He has a good feel for his position on the field and will influence receivers toward the sideline to minimize catch windows. Arnette also has good footwork to transition with receivers as they break at the top of their routes.
He is also experienced and capable in zone coverage. Arnette wastes little time getting depth on his zone drops and shows a good understanding of spacing. He plays with good awareness in zone coverage, keeping an eye in the backfield and reacting quickly to make plays on the ball or to trigger downhill on underneath plays.
Arnette has very strong ball skills in both man and zone coverage. He plays the receiver well, reacting to the receivers’ eyes and hands to attack the catch point. He routinely plays the receivers’ hands and the ball, and is very disruptive at the catch point. Arnette shows a very good burst to close and disrupt from off or zone coverage, and does a good job of contorting to disrupt the catch in man coverage.
He is also physical and aggressive in run support as well. Arnette has the play strength to match up with blocking receivers on the perimeter and shows no hesitation in tackling ball carriers.
Arnette does not have ideal length, with marginal height for an outside corner and short arms. He also lacks long speed, which makes it difficult for him to run with athletic receivers. At times he is forced to flip his hips early in the rep, making it easier for a receiver to gain separation out of his break if he is able to get Arnette to flip his hips in the wrong direction. He can also be too aggressive and physical in man coverage, which could lead to penalties at the NFL level.
Overall Grade: 6.2 - Has the traits to be an important backup with the upside to potentially start in the right situation. A value on the second day. [Grading Scale]
Damon Arnette projects as a good third cornerback for a defense with the versatility to play in multiple coverage schemes, as well as both outside and slot roles. Arnette is experienced and capable in both man and zone coverage schemes, giving him valuable versatility for an NFL defense.
Arnette lacks the length and top-end athleticism teams typically prize in starting corners, and he could struggle against more athletic receivers. Arnette makes up for his limited athleticism in man coverage with good technique and aggressive physicality. NFL receivers, are (much) more used to seeing press coverage than college receivers, and Arnette’s lack of make-up speed could be a liability if a receiver gets a clean release at the snap. Also, Arnette’s aggressive physicality could lead to pass interference penalties until he learns enough subtlety to be physical without drawing flags.
Arnette has the potential to see a large share of defensive snaps as a nickel corner who allows a defensive coordinator to open the playbook in obvious passing situations. Likewise, his ball skills and instincts at the catch point could prove useful for capitalizing on mistakes forced by the pass rush.