Football is a team sport, but there are times when the outcome of a game comes down to one-on-one situations. At no position on defense is that individual battle more tested than at cornerback.
What is it that makes up the men who offenses spend a week trying to scheme around? Deion Sanders, Mike Haynes, Dick Lane, even Darrelle Revis and Charles Woodson—quarterbacks hate these players because they can single-handedly shut down the passing game.
We've set out to find the best cornerbacks in the NFL—based on how well they tackle, stop the run, cover deep and shut down their man. Each starter has been assessed as to how well he exemplified those traits in 2011. The quest comes as part of the B/R NFL 1,000. The series offers an in-depth look at every position in the NFL, breaking down players' skills in a way never before seen on the Internet.
B/R 1,000 rankings don't assess who had the best year, or even who has the most potential. Rather, players—in this case, cornerbacks—are judged on their current skills and mechanics, based on film study of the 2011 NFL preseason and regular season only.
After hours spent scouting every starter and every potential starter, the top 100 cornerbacks have been scored on 10 criteria (more on the criteria here). In the slides that follow, we'll explain each player's strengths and weaknesses as the final ranking is revealed.