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Road to the Draft: Alabama's Terrion Arnold, Kool-Aid McKinstry look to make impression on the Raiders at the Combine


Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry were both teammates in the secondary at the University of Alabama, both had productive combine interviews with the Las Vegas Raiders and could see themselves be first-round draft picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

That's where the similarities seem to start and end.

There's no question the two cornerbacks became close, as the college roommates referred to each other as "brothers" multiple times to the media at the NFL Combine. However, the two have contrasting play-styles and personalities that they hope to bring to an NFL team.

As for McKinstry, he has a calming, smooth demeanor which also translates to how he plays. He totaled 22 pass deflections in his sophomore and junior seasons.

Arnold, on the other hand, plays cornerback with a the mentality of a linebacker. During his media availability he exuded confidence, a personality trait he said is a must at his position. The physical, yet blazing fast CB is an excellent downhill runner, resulting in five interceptions, 6.5 tackles for loss and 12 pass deflections in his junior year.

"We're not in competition at all. That's my brother and I love him to death," McKinstry said of Arnold. "He's a special player, he has great ball skills, he understands the game and knows how to make plays. We're all about battling, but for no positioning in any draft.

"Terrion is more of an athlete, a freak of nature. I'm more of a guy who has great IQ. ... [I'm] able to play man, not afraid to get in anyone's face and challenge them at the line of scrimmage. Being able to run with guys and cut them off and make plays down the field, make plays when they're shorter routes."

One of Arnold's biggest influences in both his life and football career is his grandfather, who worked as a roofer. The cornerback gave an interesting correlation between roofing and football that's helped him along the way.

"My granddad always told me on the roof, 'Nobody is coming to save you,'" said Arnold. "So when I'm on that roof and I'm that 8x12, 10x12 and it's a high pitch walking up there, you're slipping on the fiberglass, you kind of get a little rocky, get a little shaky. You know that if you lose confidence in yourself, you're going to slip and fall.

"It's the same way with playing cornerback and being a human being," he concluded. "If you don't have that same confidence to come in and take over a room and have that presence, nobody else is going to have that confidence in you."

As the Raiders currently possess the No. 13 pick, the two cornerbacks are prime candidates to be selected by the Silver and Black. Both have been tied to the team in several mock drafts and Head Coach Antonio Pierce has been vocal on wanting to add depth to the secondary in the draft.

It's also worth noting the Raiders secondary has pieces in place with Jack Jones, Nate Hobbs and Tre’von Moehrig looking to take the next step in Patrick Graham's defense in 2024. As Pierce alluded Wednesday to finding "one more piece" to the already talented unit, either of the Alabama players' skillsets could fit seamlessly in the Silver and Black's plan of building a tough, fundamentally sound defense.

"It was more of a laid-back meeting, they just wanted to get to know me and know who I am as a person," McKinstry said of his Combine meeting with the Raiders. "We watched a few plays, good and bad, and explained the football version of what I was thinking on each play. I really love [Antonio Pierce] as a coach, I can tell that he's dedicated."

Arnold also had a good interaction with the Raiders, believing he made a great first impression on Pierce, Telesco and the rest of the staff in the room.

"He's a guy full of energy," he said about the Raiders head coach. "When I walked into the room he was like, 'Are you an energetic person?' I said, 'You know I am man, put on the tape.' He was like, 'Man, I like you already.' It went very well."

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Take a look back at current Raiders' appearances at past NFL Scouting Combines.

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