Why the Slide?: Ennis Rakestraw, CB, Missouri

This series was created a number of years ago in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

Finding Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. mocked to go in the first round was a frequent occurrence in the months leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft. Rakestraw was one of the best cornerbacks in the SEC during the 2023 season, and he displayed few flaws. Rakestraw possesses a good skill set, impressive tape, and the versatility to play as an inside or outside cornerback. Thus, it was surprising when Rakestraw slid before going late in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

According to team sources, the primary reason for Rakestraw’s slide was a sports hernia injury. He worked out before the draft but was not 100 percent. Some teams were underwhelmed by his 40 time, while others felt that given that Rakestraw was still rehabbing and didn’t have true combine preparation time before running, it was a good time. Some sources thought Rakestraw was brave and competitive to do the workout, considering his recent injury. The injury and 40 time were the primary reasons for Rakestraw’s slip in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Detroit Lions ended Rakestraw’s slide, and they were a fantastic landing spot for him. He landed in a situation where he can compete for playing time immediately. The coaching staff in Detroit has also done a phenomenal job of developing young talent, and Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is a highly regarded teacher. Rakestraw also has the luxury of getting healthy in a non-urgent time frame. The Lions drafted Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold in the first round plus traded for veteran Carlton Davis and signed veterans Amik Robertson and Emmanuel Moseley. Thus, Rakestraw can get healthy and learn behind those veterans.

In a year or two, Rakestraw and Arnold could be the starting outside cornerbacks in a Lions defense that has other good talent on that side of the ball to help their cover corners. While Rakestraw might be disappointed he had a bit of a slide, he landed in a nearly ideal situation to put together a good pro career.


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