NFL: Top 10 Cornerbacks Heading Into 2011
You know how this works by now (past achievement is not the whole story here, but I’m not going to waste keystrokes explaining how I’m ranking them since no one cares to read that objectively going in). However, this list is a bit more difficult to come up with, because as a former cornerback, I look at the position differently than most fans do (basing it totally off statistics such as INTs and tackles).
The two best CBs in football had ZERO INT between them last year.
HERE ARE THE RANKINGS:
1. DARRELLE REVIS, New York Jets.
“Lock ’em down like Revis” – VADO.
The thing about Revis is that he plays the position like a WR. He reads routes, knows everyone’s responsibility on both sides of the ball on a given play and diagnoses when teams run receivers at him in waves (in order to get separation for his primary guy — which is really the only way WRs caught passes against Revis in 2010). He would get lost in the wash, and although guys made catches, he almost always stopped them from gaining much, if anything because he was still right. there.
Turning the hips and being able to get into a full sprint is key as a CB. Quickness in short bursts is a tremendous asset as well. Tackling also makes one a complete shutdown CB.
Not having interceptions is the only knock against him and the #2 guy on this list, something Deion Sanders never did, even in the years throughout the early-late 1990s where teams would only throw to his side 2-3 times ALL GAME. If at all.
Revis is as good as it gets in today’s NFL, however.
2. NNAMDI ASOMUGHA, Philadelphia Eagles.
There are people who assert that Asomugha was “never tested” while in Oakland. That’s not quite true. That statement is usually made by people who don’t watch much, if any AFC West/Oakland Raiders football until they Raiders played their team or a team where they had local coverage. Asomugha was responsible for the likes of Brandon Lloyd and Vincent Jackson in past years, as well as Dwayne Bowe. He isn’t as lockdown on the ball (especially short) as Revis, but he can turn and run with the best of them. And wearing #21 with his new team, the Philadelphia Eagles, will invoke memories of a guy who Asomugha compares favorably: BOBBY TAYLOR.
3. LEON HALL, Cincinnati Bengals.
Leon Hall is a beast. PLAIN AND SIMPLE. End of story. If he were on a decent team, you’d hear more about him. NFL junkies certainly already do.
4. JONATHAN JOSEPH, Houston Texans.
Joseph was courted just as heavily in 2011’s Free Agency period as Asomugha. AND WITH GOOD REASON. He’s every bit as good, and may be slightly better on the ball against slants and other short routes. Not sure if he alone can transform the Texans previously putrid secondary, but he was an excellent pickup to begin that process.
5. ANTOINE CASON, San Diego Chargers.
Another guy that casual fans may not know about, but he makes plays. A certified ballhawk, teams attempted to “pick” on him instead of going at the more established veteran — the stalwart, Quentin Jammer. The past two seasons, teams have decided to go to Jammer’s side, because Cason makes so many impact plays.
6. DEVIN MCCOURTY, New England Patriots.
How rare is it that the youngest member of a team’s secondary is the BEST player in that secondary? The Patriots were awful in pass defense overall last year, but it was not because of McCourty. The guy has a nose for the football and he is not afraid to get in and make tackles. I’ve knocked a few gamblers/ballhawks down off this list because they do not tackle at all, and get beat just as much as they make impact plays (Asante Samuel). McCourty is a tough guy.
7. DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE, Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles now feature two of the top 10 CBs in the league, and “DRC” is one of, if not THE fastest of them all (along with his cousin Antonio and DeAngelo Hall). The only knock in his game is, like his aforementioned cousin, he likes to gamble because he can make up for lack of technique and misdiagnosing a play with his speed alone. And most of the time, he gets bailed out because of it. But big plays can be had at his expense.
8. AQIB TALIB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But a ballhawk.
9. TRAMON WILLIAMS, Green Bay Packers.
Everyone knows I love this guy no homo. This is my son right here. He plays the position the way it should be played. And it doesn’t hurt that he is learning from one of the best to ever do it (Charles Woodson) over the past couple of years. It appears that this tutelage has only taken Williams’ game to the next level. Sky is the limit for him as a CB in the NFL.
10. TERRELL THOMAS, New York Football Giants.
In reality, TT should be higher on this list than he is. He’s one of the few guys whose stats actually tell the most of his story. He plays tight coverage, loves to get in and support the run defense (barely had more tackles than DE Justin Tuck, which is ridiculous — in a good way, on Tuck’s part — in and of itself). He’s a ballhawk and would have had twice as many INTs had he not dropped a few sure fire ones at times. All that said, his biggest gaffe in coverage all year was gambling on a route to Calvin Johnson. Barely gave up any big plays all year. That’s a tough accomplishment as a CB, and warrants rounding out the Top 10 for 2011.
Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets.
Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos.
Antoine Winfield, Minnesota Vikings.
Asante Samuel, Philadelphia Eagles.
Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons.