Every off-season has its strengths and weaknesses in terms of player positions. Based on an initial assessment the 2014 NFL draft and free agency could favor cornerback.
Alterraun Verner and Aqib Talib among strong possibilities for free agency
In a league dominated by the passing game having qualities cover men is becoming a must. For any team on the lookout for help in that area, 2014 could be their year. It should start with free agency next month. Already word has begun to leak from several team camps about which players are taking priority for franchise tags and new deals and it seems a lot of cornerback are getting left off the list. Among the biggest names include Alterraun Verner. The young Tennessee Titans defender had a breakout season in 2013 with five interceptions and is only 25-years old. However the Titans, who are switching defensive schemes don’t seem ready to pay him over $11 million, which is what it would take if they franchise tagged him. Another one who might be joining him despite a strong season is Aqib Talib. The veteran corner was easily the key piece of the New England Patriots defense and his loss paved the way for their defeat in the AFC championship game. Robert Kraft is notorious for not wanting to pay veterans and Talib is no exception. Either player would be an instant upgrade on other team, and they are just two of several other quality players.
Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert lead deep draft class
It doesn’t end there though. The 2014 NFL draft could only add to the corner feeding frenzy. Michigan State star Darqueze Dennard and Oklahoma State standout Justin Gilbert are both potential top ten picks and lead a class of corners that could have as many as 16 go in the first three rounds alone. Already buzz is growing around the lanky Stanley Jean-Baptiste of Nebraska and Keith McGill of Utah or the undersized but athletic and feisty Jason Verrett out of TCU. The talent is obvious but so is the versatility. It isn’t just press coverage corners that dominate the class. There is a host of tough, heady types who would excel in a zone scheme that demands good tackling and technique. In other words the 2014 NFL draft has something for everybody. Need a freak athlete with speed who can cover but also help on special teams? Try Loucheiz Purifoy out of Florida. How about an undersized but dynamic playmaker who can hit and play the football similar to Tyrann Mathieu? Take a gander at Lamarcus Joyner from FloridaState.
Experts always like to designate years by what defined them. Based on current projections, 2014 may be remembered as the Year of the Cornerback.