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 Post subject: NFR: Top Ten Cornerbacks of 2016
PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:08 pm 
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Desmond Trufant earns "honorable mention" but that's it as far as Falcons goes.


Top 10 cornerbacks for 2016
Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman top the list of best young CBs
Updated: June 25, 2013, 10:03 AM ET
By Herm Edwards | ESPN Insider

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Patrick PetersonJeff Curry/US PresswireArizona CB Patrick Peterson tallied seven interceptions and 52 tackles in 2012.

As I've previously written, it's tough to be a cornerback in the NFL -- especially in today's NFL. Offensive coordinators consistently seek out the weakest link on defense and spread those players out to create favorable matchups. The speed of the game continues to increase, and players are bigger, stronger and faster than when I played in the 1970s and '80s.

Today's cornerbacks must possess mental toughness, ball awareness, ball skills as well as the ability to close on routes and change direction. The few players who can do all of these things well are the game's elite cornerbacks. It's these players, along with rising stars, who will serve as shutdown corners for years to come.

Here is my list of the top 10 projected cornerbacks for 2016:

1. Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals

I watched him when he was at LSU and knew he was going to be a star. He's a physical specimen at 6-foot-1 and 219 pounds, and he'll be only 26 years old entering the 2016 season. Peterson has great ball skills and recovery speed, although at times he could use better technique. Plus, he offers added value as a dangerous return man.

2. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks

Another corner with very good length, it's really hard to beat Sherman deep. Seattle's system is perfect for him, because he can press receivers and disrupt them at the line of scrimmage -- which plays right into his confidence. With eight interceptions last season, he's only going to improve moving forward.

3. Leon Hall, Cincinnati Bengals

A somewhat under-the-radar player, Hall is a complete cornerback. He's not a press corner, but can be left on any island and plays with great eyes. Additionally, he has solid anticipation and footwork, and is a good tackler. If Hall can stay healthy, he'll continue to be an elite corner.

4. Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns

Haden was knocked at the combine for a slow 40-yard dash, but he definitely passed the eye test for me in college while at Florida. And he's continued to play at a high level in the NFL. The Browns have the confidence to put him on the opposition's top receiver and he relishes the challenge. He's good in both off and press coverage, can locate the ball in the air and is an underrated blitzer. New defensive coordinator Ray Horton will put him in position to succeed.

5. Janoris Jenkins, St. Louis Rams

If he can keep his priorities straight, Jenkins is on the fast track to becoming an elite corner. He has amazing recovery skills and is a terrific competitor, which is what Jeff Fisher saw in him coming out of college at North Alabama. He's a confident player who is fearless despite his size (5-10, 193 pounds). Not afraid to challenge receivers at the line of scrimmage, Jenkins could quickly develop into a shutdown corner.

6. Casey Hayward, Green Bay Packers

I loved this kid at Vanderbilt, so I'm not surprised he played so well last season when injuries forced him into the lineup. Hayward has great hands and I'm really impressed with his route awareness. Plus, he has very good ball skills; since the Packers usually play with a lead, he'll have plenty of opportunities for interceptions.

7. Keenan Lewis, New Orleans Saints

Another player on the rise, Lewis signed as a free agent in New Orleans after being groomed in Dick LeBeau's defense in Pittsburgh. He'll need to adjust to a new defense under Rob Ryan, but I really like his skill set. Lewis has good vision, size (6-foot, 208) and physicality, and he'll play a key role for the Saints as he matches up against top receivers in the division like Julio Jones, Roddy White, Vincent Jackson and others.

8. Darrelle Revis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I think Revis still will have an island in three years, but it just won't be as big as it once was. When healthy, he's still the most complete cornerback in the NFL -- and that is why he's so low on this list. As I wrote back in April, I wouldn't bet against him coming back strong from his ACL injury. He's smart enough to understand angles, and he won't lose his ability to get up on receivers at the line of scrimmage. But I need to see him have a full season of health under his belt before moving him up this list.

9. Brandon Flowers, Kansas City Chiefs

I drafted Brandon in the second round of the 2008 draft, and he's only now starting to come into his prime. He's not the biggest corner, but he can play in the slot, understands route concepts and can come off the slot as a blitzer in the nickel package. He also has great eyes and anticipation on the ball.

10. Morris Claiborne, Dallas Cowboys

A cornerback's toughest season is his rookie campaign, because the speed of the game is drastically different from the college level and QBs look to pick on rookie CBs. Claiborne struggled some last season, but midway through found his way and improved in coverage. He's deficient in terms of fundamentals, but Monte Kiffin's system will help with that -- forcing him to play with technique. The Cowboys will play a lot of "China" coverage, which is man-to-man defense with a free safety in the middle. Claiborne, a former WR, also has great length and terrific ball skills.

Honorable mention: Dee Milliner, Desmond Trufant, Xavier Rhodes, Brandon Carr, Lardarius Webb

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"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.


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 Post subject: Re: NFR: Top Ten Cornerbacks of 2016
PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:11 pm 
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I must have missed it when I was scouting corners this past February, but I don't get what is so "special" about Keenan Lewis. He looks like a solid No. 2 corner, but I didn't see a guy that could be a lock-down No. 1 corner like everyone else on this list is or has the capacity to be. More like Dunta Robinson in Houston (i.e. overrated) than a future star.

If I'm wrong, then the Saints defense could be more formidable in the coming season and future seasons than probably many people think. Because what is needed for a Rob Ryan-coached defense to be at its most effective, is having a "shutdown" corner on the outside. That's what Revis was in NY with Rex, and Nnamdi was in OAK with Rob. That's what they hoped Claiborne would give them, thus why they moved up in the draft to select him.

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