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NFL Draft Prospect Preview - Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

by J.T. Toth


Photo courtesy of Missouri Athletics.


At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.


Today’s Spotlight - Missouri, Cornerback, Ennis Rakestraw Jr.


Name - Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

Pos - CB

Team - Missouri

HT/WT - 6’0” 188 lbs.

Born- n/a 

Home – Duncanville, TX


Ennis Rakestraw was a 3-star rated defensive back for Duncanville High School in Texas. He led Duncanville to back-to-back state championship game appearances. During his senior season, he was named the SportsDayHS Defensive Player of the Year by the Dallas Morning News. He committed to Missouri during his senior season of high school. 


It did not take Ennis Rakestraw Jr. long to find the field in Missouri. As a true freshman, he started all 10 games at cornerback and made 24 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack and a team best 6 passes broken up. He was the first true freshman on defense to start in a season-opener since 2017.


His sophomore season did not go quite as smooth for Rakestraw. After playing in 4 games, and starting 1 for the Tigers, he suffered a torn ACL which ended his season. At the time of injury, the sophomore collected 13 tackles and had a pair of pass breakups.


2022 was a bounceback season for him after his injury riddled season. He started all 13 games for Missouri and racked up 35 tackles, 4.5 TFL, forced 2 fumbles, had 12 pass-breakups and 1 interception.


This past season, Rakestraw Jr. was once again slowed down by injury, this time it was a nagging groin injury that kept him out of 3 games. He was still able to perform in his 8 starts, collecting 35 tackles, 1.5 TFL, and 4 pass breakups. He announced in early December that he was entering the NFL Draft and is considered one of the top cornerbacks coming out. 


Ennis Rakestraw Jr. is a high energy defensive back, who is always around the ball. His explosiveness off the ball and fluid hips allow him to open up and accelerate out of his stance and mirror receivers. He has sneaky length, with longer limbs for a 6’0” cornerback. He plays instinctively and does an excellent job of reading the quarterback's eyes. When the ball is in the air, he has the ability to disrupt passes and deflect passes. Though his interception numbers were never high at Missouri, his passes defended were always on point with the better cornerbacks in the country. When pressing receivers he does an efficient job of using his length to keep receivers jammed off the line of scrimmage and has a patient style, not overcommitting one way or the other in routes. He lets the receiver make their move first and then uses his speed to mirror the movement. 


On the downside, he has a short yardage burst and needs to improve his long speed. At times, he can struggle to keep up with the deep ball. Rakestraw has a tendency to get handsy with receivers off the line and take an unnecessary penalty, instead of trusting his speed. He plays with some physicality in the run game, but his angle when chasing isn’t the best. When chasing the runner, he will take a longer route than what was necessary. On deep passes, he needs to do a better job of getting his head turned around to make plays on the ball. The injury history may come into play, especially if he keeps climbing up boards. 


A good comparison for Ennis Rakestraw Jr. is former 2nd round pick Darius Slay out of Mississippi State in 2013. Slay is another cornerback who appears to have more length than his listed size (6’0”). Slay has had a solid NFL career with 28 interceptions and close to 600 tackles in 11 seasons. Though never really being considered a superstar, Slay has been a big part of Detroit and Philadelphia’s secondary and at 33-years-old is still producing.


Strengths

  • Defends passes

  • Length

  • Man to man

  • Press

Weaknesses

  • Angles

  • Injury

  • Penalties

  • Zone reads


Final Analysis


Ennis Rakestraw Jr. plays an old school type of energetic defense but can have bouts with penalties. He has had some injury concerns at Missouri, but when he is healthy and plays, he is a shutdown cornerback. He could be a second day pick and look for him to show off some of his skills at the combine to solidify that talk. 


Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 3rd or 4th round

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