As wide receivers have become more important, so have the men who cover them. Who are the best NFL cornerbacks in pro football?
#10 – Alterraun Verner – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Blasting through doubts about his size and physicality, Alterraun Verner reached his first Pro Bowl last season on the strength of five interceptions. He also has three seasons of at least 50 tackles and two with at least 80. The kid is the complete package and now enters a Tampa Bay Buccaneers system that should fit his talents perfectly.
#9 – Brent Grimes – Miami Dolphins
The Atlanta Falcons pretty much wrote the epitaph of Brent Grimes after he was lost to a knee injury in 2012. He responded by starting every game in 2013 for the Miami Dolphins, intercepting four passes and making the Pro Bowl. He is one of the best two-way corners in the league when healthy.
#8 – Tim Jennings – Chicago Bears
One might like to point out how everybody else on the list would play if they were suddenly only 5’8″. Tim Jennings has dealt with that disadvantage his entire career. That hasn’t stopped him from reaching back-to-back Pro Bowls for the Chicago Bears. With 11 interceptions in that span, his stats rate him among the best.
#7 – Johnathan Joseph – Houston Texans
People forget that the Houston Texans had the 3rd ranked pass defense last season. In fact they’ve had a top defense ever since they signed cornerback Johnathan Joseph away from Cincinnati in 2011. There is nothing flashy or boisterous about his game. He is quite simply just good.
#6 – Keenan Lewis – New Orleans Saints
A lot of good players seem to fall through the cracks in the NFL and it’s a real shame. New Orleans Saints corner Keenan Lewis can relate. His arrival from Pittsburgh completely changed the dynamic of their defense, taking them from 32nd in 2012 to 4th in 2013. By that same token, Pittsburgh had the 1st ranked defense in 2012 and dropped to 13th after Lewis left in free agency.
#5 – Aqib Talib – Denver Broncos
His career really didn’t start to take off until he left Tampa Bay for New England. There Bill Belichick helped Aqib Talib realize his potential as a physical press corner. His play was a driving force in the success of the Patriots defense and resulted in a major deal from Denver. Unfortunately health problems drop him down the list.
#4 – Patrick Peterson – Arizona Cardinals
Talking trash is all part of the fun of the off-season, and Patrick Peterson has embraced it, dishing out a challenge to anybody who thinks they are a better corner than him. The Arizona Cardinals star hasn’t missed a game in his career, has 10 interceptions in three season along with 42 passes defended.
#3 – Darrelle Revis – New England Patriots
His return was triumphant in the win column, but Darrelle Revis quietly reasserted his stature as one of the best in the NFL. He did a little of everything in Tampa from tackling to sacks to forced fumbles and interceptions. At age 28 he is healthy and now in a system in New England that knows how to use him.
#2 – Joe Haden – Cleveland Browns
It’s easy to play like superstar when surrounded by stability. It’s another thing entirely when things change every year. Joe Haden knows what that’s like playing for the Cleveland Browns, but that hasn’t stopped the 25-year old from rising to the top of the league. Not only did he snag four interceptions last season, he also made 54 tackles. A lot of “shutdown” corners don’t do both like that.
#1 – Richard Sherman – Seattle Seahawks
He proclaims himself to be the best cornerback in the NFL and last season he backed up the talk with the most interceptions in the league (8), the game-clinching play in the NFC championship and a Super Bowl title. Richard Sherman got his payday and is in his prime on the best defense in football.