Player Profiling: NFL Cornerback Rankings

Thom Cunningham@ThomBhombCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 02:  Nnamdi Asomugha #21 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after stopping the Dallas Cowboys from scoring in the fourth quarter on October 2, 2005 at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Ranking the best overall corner backs in the league entering the 09' season


1. Nnamdi Asomugha (OAK) 

There is nothing to not like about this player. He has the best coverage skills in the league, makes smart decisions when the ball is in the air, and can come up to make the tackle.

His height separates himself from most corners in the league. He is a hard worker with a humble attitude to his game.

Asomugha is the type of corner that takes out an entire side of a football field (Primetime was another). Although Asomugha could be the best overall player on the Raiders, I still think Darren McFadden is the most athletic.

Regardless, he is one of the best pure football players in the league with a lot of years to go.


2. Champ Bailey (DEN)

If Asomugha didn't develop so quickly, then I'd put Champ at number one. He has some of the best instincts in the league. This guy can cover almost any receiver, intercept any ball and tackle whoever comes near him.

Champ is the best wrap-up tackler at the  corner position, but injuries did set him back last year. If Champ can stay healthy, he will produce. Bailey's high intensity of play and the vast football knowledge he has shown throughout his career make him a threat to any receiver he is guarding.

Bailey is a player that makes your entire secondary better and can create big plays on a weekly basis.


3. Asante Samuel (PHI)

You can say he cost New England a Super Bowl win against New York, but the guy is still a play maker. Samuel continues to make big plays on a weekly basis and despite a top three ranking, could be viewed as underrated.

His hops are deceiving, and he can break a run after an interception. He covers receivers as well as any other corner, and can break on a ball very quickly.

Samuel jumps in front of defenders more than he straight up goes man-to-man, which can be tricky for opposing quarterbacks. He played extremely well last year and created a lot of big plays for the Eagle defense.

Overall, Samuel is a reliable play maker that comes up big more times than none.


4. Rashean Mathis (JAC)

Mathis has some of the best press coverage in the league. He is not afraid to get physical with receivers on the line or down the field. His speed is underrated and his awareness is one of the best in the league.

Mathis has the quickness and vision to break on most balls and make a play. Mathis has struggled recently with one-on-one deep coverage, but for the most part, he is a tough player with tons of athletic talent.

He has already proven his superstar talent more than once. Great leadership, intelligence, and Mathis' overall talent make him one of the best defenders in the game today.


5. Nate Clements (SF)

He is another tough corner with coverage ability through the roof.

Nate will have his game or two where he just struggles, but he is arguably one of the toughest defenders to throw on. Clements' tough mindset and great technique makes him a dangerous player to face.

He positions himself to make a play on both the ball and player, and at times can straight up knock folks out. He is a corner I would trust in big play situations to not only defend the pass, but stop the run.

Overall, Clements technique, talent, and toughness make him a solid number one for any team to have.


6. Terrence Newman (DAL)

Newman is very underrated when it comes to being a great corner back. His speed allows him to cover most receivers in the league, and his size gives him a better chance to make a play on one-on-one situations.

Newman has some of the best pure athletic talent in the league, and his knowledge on the field has continued to grow every year.

I would like to see Newman be more aggressive when the ball is in the air, but he is by far one of the biggest and fastest corners in the game today.


7. Charles Woodson (GB)

Woodson has really only played one or two bad seasons in his career. For the most part, Woodson is a proven talent who continues to makes plays for his defense.

Woodson is very smart by luring quarterbacks to throw his way; but when they do, he usually makes a play.

Woodson is not afraid to put his head down to make a play, and has some of the best tackling skills among any defender. He is without a doubt a leader on any defense, and can seriously help take a team deep into a post-season.


8. Darrelle Revis (NYJ)

Revis is on his way to becoming a top corner in the league. Despite his youth, he managed to play extremely well for a majority of the season.

He seemed to always be grabbing interception after interception, with the ability to take it the distance.

Revis' technique was so impressive for his young age. He is an aggressive corner who will take the ball away at its highest point. He is a threat for any offense, and can surprise many with his style of play.

Beware of Darrelle Revis next season. His overall game was just so impressive to watch last year; and with Rex Ryan now in control of the defense, his game might be elevated to an even higher standard.


9. Al Harris (GB)

Harris is a reliable, veteran play maker who can play with pretty much any receiver in the league. He is another corner who has great technique in his coverage and tackling skills.

He is probably one of the most aware corners in the game, and can compete in many jump ball situations.

Harris is just a smart, reliable player with as much brains as talent. Any organization would love to have Harris as their number one, let alone a number two, in Green Bay.


10. Carlos Rogers (WAS)

Carlos Rogers has the attitude and ability to become a top corner in the league consistently. Rogers is a hard working talent who can read plays extremely well.

His ability to break is often over-looked and his hitting comes and goes. He is so reliable to have however, because he is a corner that will always make a play on the ball.

He has some of the best man-to-man coverage skills, but I haven't really been impressed with his zone coverage.

Rogers' awareness and ability to break on most balls makes him such a dangerous defender, but he does give up  big plays from time to time (usually not touchdowns, however).


11. Antonie Winfield (MIN)

Winfield is probably the best impact hitting corner in the league. He does an excellent job of running downhill to stop the run and rarely lets receivers break tackles on him.

His height challenges his full potential, but overall he is as dangerous as they come. He is still able to make big plays in a game even if its not covering receivers.

Winfield has a habit for forcing fumbles and seems to be everywhere the ball is.

I guess that means he is good at pursuing the football, and shows he plays with a determined mindset that separates the men from the boys.


12. Terrence McGee (BUF)

He is another corner back whose size limits his full potential talent. McGee is very fast, and can get in between a receiver and the football in a blink of an eye.

His reads are very nice, along with his pure athletic talent.

Fundamentally, McGee still has someways to go. Other than McGee's mechanics and fundamentals, he has superstar ability written all over him.

He is by far the best secondary player on Buffalo (NOT Donte Whitner). McGee's impressive play, awareness and talent make him special. He still needs to learn better mechanics and become a more vocal leader, which I think he will.


13. Quentin Jammer (SD)

As a pure overall corner back, Jammer is better than Antonio Cromartie, which may be the reason he is listed as the number one and Cromartie the number two.

Jammer is fundamentally sound at the corner position, but he can also deliver knock out shots that'll either waken or silence opponents.

His technique is almost flawless and does the little things right that make corners great. He knows when to run with a receiver, when to turn his head, how to position his body, and whether to go for the interception or just swat the ball away.

Jammer has the capability to change a game with one play (which he has done on more than one occasion). Jammer's fundamental skills along with his toughness and awareness make Jammer a complete corner back.


14. Marcus Trufant (SEA)

After a shaky season last year, I think Trufant will bounce back nicely. Trufant is as dangerous as they come to create turnovers on a consistent basis.

He hasn't done much to impress me in the tackling game, but his coverage skills are amazing. He as underrated leaping ability, along with long arms and big hands to snag balls that surprise many corners.

Turfant can go one-on-one with many receivers, and is not easily fooled. A smart corner to say the least, Trufant's brilliant coverage skills make him a dangerous defender.

If you catch him out of position, even for a spilt second, he usually has a hard time recovering. Trufant usually positions himself nicely, though, to make the best play on the ball possible.


15. Antonio Cromartie (SD)

Athletically, this guy is a straight freak. His athleticism is one of the best in the game today. He can jump to the moon and extend even further.

Cromartie has play maker written all over him, and has proven so on numerous occasions.

Cromartie's awareness and football knowledge is a weakness, but it continues to improve each season. Playing alongside with Quentin Jammer and a returning Shawne Merriman shouldn't hurt his chances at success either.

Cromartie is a threat to change a game every time he's on the field. Cromartie is never looking for the knock out blow (like Jammer), but he usually does a good job of wrapping up and making plays on the run.

His size also gives him an advantage when covering most receivers.

16. Chris Gamble (CAR)

Gamble could be the most underrated back in the league. He is a straight beast on the field and displays warrior-like tactics when he plays. He is not afraid to cover any receiver, or hit any opponent right in the jaw.

Gamble plays with a chip on his shoulder like he has something to prove. He is quicker than most people give credit and can make a play on the ball as good as they come.

He has a great chance of winning many jump ball situations, and has a very aware reading of the field. His games lacks consistency, but if he can play up to his full potential each week, Gamble would be in Honolulu every year.


17. Sheldon Brown (PHI)

He is a short corner with a tough attitude. His ability to hit and separate the ball from receivers is rare to find.

His height is a weakness in my mind, but his hops and ability to create turnovers make him a threat to many offenses. He is another corner you can beat with one misstep (mainly because of his size).

Brown has the ability to make just as many big plays as Samuel, but I would bet more times than none that receivers (like Moss, Fitzgerald, the Johnson's, etc.) have a much better chance for success against Brown than against Samuel.


18. Dominque Rogers-Cromartie (ARI)

He is the fastest corner in the league. DRC surprised me last season, though, because he was making big play after big play.

I didn't believe he would come into the league and dominate the way he did last season. like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco—he can only get better, right?

His awareness and football knowledge will only improve and his athletic ability will go nowhere. DRC can jump, run, defend and surprise many offenses.

His tackling way decent but not reliable. Overall, he is a young talent who surprised many with his dominance, and has only a bright future ahead of him.


19. Ike Taylor (PIT)

Taylor is one of the best coverage corners in the game. His height is hard to find in the league, and he is the perfect pass defending corner.

He can keep up with most receivers; and if he is even in his receivers range, Taylor will knock it away more times than none. Taylor can hit along with every other Pittsburgh defensive player.

His leaping ability also adds to his success in the coverage game, but he can lose many one-on-one battles if he gets beat off of the line of scrimmage. Taylor has proven his ability, though (has two Super Bowl rings), and is considered, in my eyes, as a reliable corner in this league.


20. Cedric Griffin (MIN)

Griffin can start for many NFL teams. The fact that he is a number two corner, let alone on the Minnesota Vikings, is just too scary to think about.

Griffin is a big time play maker who scares receivers with his style of play. He will knock opponents out and then let them know about when they get up. He is very elusive in the secondary, which surprises me, because his size and power is so great.

His ability to create turnovers are often over-looked.

Griffin is a rare gem in this league, and will become a superstar in the league one day.

He has a killer mindset that separates his game from may other corners. His mental and physical approach to the game is what makes any defense successful.


21. Cortland Finnegan (TEN)

Finnegan is a straight brawler on the field. He doesn't care who is lined up in front of him—He will go 100% and then some.

I think his turnovers were lucky last year, and I still have questions about his overall coverage game. He is a very physical defender and is tough to get by when he is in the press. He reminds me of a young Antoine Winfield, with a lot about coverage to learn.

His fundamental and mechanics improved each game last year, but I still think that defensive line made the secondary better (not to mention Griffin and Hope backing you up).

If Finnegan can produce the same way he did last year and become a reliable player to cover other teams number one receiver, then I am completely inside and out sold on this kid's future success.


22. Leon Hall (CIN)

Leon Hall made a couple of big plays here and there last year, but to rank him above half of the guys listed is ridiculous.

Hall can cover decently which is the same for his tackling game. He has some athletic talent, but has that aggressive attitude with a chip on his shoulder.

Hall is another player out to prove that he is more than a one year wonder (if you can call it that). His first year in the league was just so bad that it is hard for me to see him make that type of leap and consistently stay there.

If he does, more power to him though. Last year he showed he has the potential to become a play maker; but this year, he must do it again and possibly take his game to a higher level.

If people are saying Hall is a top ten corner in this league, then he must be the leader of that defense (right now, he is NOT).


23. Nick Harper (TEN)

If you would rank Nick Harper over Finnegan, I wouldn't argue. Harper has just as much  fire in his game as Finnegan, but does a better job of recognition in coverage.

Harper's speed can be decisive and his IQ is one of the best. Harper's ability to run down field with most receivers is hard to come by these days.

I like to think of him as the Derrick Mason on defense—proven, reliable, hard worker, fast, smart, under-valued but one hell of a football player that I would want on my team.


24. Ronde Barber (TB)

I am still wondering if Barber can tackle DeAngelo Williams. Jokes aside, Barber has been a consistent player throughout his entire career.

He has played successfully through injuries, makes smart decisions on the ball and does a good job of tackling. Barber can still make big plays for a defense, but I think his game-changing plays are behind him.

Barber has been one of the smartest and most talented corners I have seen. He brings a fun, laid back but aggressive attitude to his game. His skills have seemed to quietly disappear each year, and I wonder how much longer he will continue.


25. Charles Tillman (CHI)

Tillman has the potential to become a top defender in this league; he is just one of the most inconsistent players I've witnessed play.

Apart from his inconsistency. Tillman has amazing speed with a nose for the football.

His breaks are quick, precise and on time. His coverage skills are also impressive and he can go one-on-one with many receivers.

His big plays come and go (along with his game), but is overall a pretty decent number one who has proven his talent deep into a post-season.


26. Lito Sheppard (NYJ)

Sheppard might have a very successful under-the-radar year. Revis does get all the attention in New york, but Lito is just as talented and skilled.

Having Ryan in charge of the defense should bring confidence to any player, including Sheppard. He is little, but has mad hops and not too shabby hands. He can read plays extremely well and has vast knowledge of the game inside and out.

Lito has the ability to be a top defender and has big play potential every time he sees the field. If everything in New York goes according to plan, Sheppard could find himself in Honolulu at the end of the year, because his ability is that good.


27. Fred Bennett (HOU)

A lot of people have not heard of Fred Bennett. He is a blue-collar player with an attitude that every coach wants in a defensive player.

His coverage skills are over-looked, and he is not afraid to go one-on-one many times. Bennett is still young and has a lot about the game to learn, but his pure athletic talent and potential shown makes him a superstar in the making.

Bennett will be a household name in the future, but he needs more development time. He is the number one in Houston though, so how much more time does he really need?


28. Aaron Ross (NYG)

I think ranking Ross this low is kind of an insult. He had just as successful of a rookie year as Revis did.

Ross can make big plays in key situations of a game, and has the speed and agility to take any ball he picks off to the crib.

His size and athletic talent combine for a dangerous skill set many corners don't hold. He is another young corner on the rise, and plays for an organization that will help him achieve success.


29. Rodrick Hood (ARI)

Hood is another underrated corner. Though he doesn't have a lot of size, it  shouldn't matter because he can hit like a linebacker and jump extremely high.

Hood always positions himself to make the best play possible, but only executes a few times during a game. He is always a threat to jump up and make a surprising play, but I would take many receivers over him on one-on-one coverage.

His knowledge, athleticism and toughness makes him a decent play maker, but not a consistent one.


30. Anthony Henry (DET)

Henry is another reliable veteran that always makes the right decisions. Henry knows what do and where to be in almost every play. He can hit, cover and mess with a quarterback's mind.

Henry should always be taken seriously as a great one-on-one corner with the ability to make everyone else around him better.

Now that he is on a young Detroit team, his talent and leadership could make both himself and the Lions better.


31. Fabian Washington (BAL)

I'm not sure how he lost his job in Oakland. He always played well, and made plays from time to time.

His game has obviously improved since then, but Fabian is not the guy I would trust guarding the outside of my field. His technique and fundamental coverage skills are very nice, but I feel many running backs (and some receivers) would not hesitate to run right over or around him.

He is a quick and explosive player in the air game, which is what really matters at the corner position. He is a reliable number two at best, but fits in well with the Baltimore defense (taking Chris McAlister's spot).


32. Chris Houston (ATL)

I don't understand why people don't like Chris Houston. He is a tough, tall, fast and smart corner who gives little separation between himself and the receiver.

I would actually trust Houston with one-on-one coverage over many corners listed above. He runs well with receivers and does a good job of never loosing them.

His fundamentals and awareness continue to improve each year.

Houston's weakness is that he never gets his head around in time to actually see and make a play on the ball. I think Houston will learn that as time goes on; and with an improving Falcon team and defensive line, Houston's time to shine might be sooner than expected.


33. Ken Lucas (CAR)

Lucas has progressively gotten worse each season, until last year, during which he pretty much saved his career by playing his tail off.

He has the potential to start for a couple of teams, but he fits in perfectly as the number two corner in the Carolina defense.

He can cover most receivers and plays just as hard as his opposite Gamble. His speed may surprise many, but Lucas is more of just a role player than he is an overall cornerback.


34. Patrick Surtain (KC)

Surtain's talent at the corner position is among the best. He can make many plays on the ball when given the chance. Surtain has been getting beat deep as of recent memory, but his intensity and talent is still there.

With a new defensive scheme, Surtain might have one more chance to prove he still has the talent he displayed in Miami.


35. Kelvin Hayden (IND)

Hayden is one of the more aware corners in the game. He is always looking to make the big play to spark a defense. His covering skills are average, but his football talent and recognition on plays makes him a dangerous player.

His skill is slowly progressing however, and I'm not sure what to expect from him now that coach Tony Dungy is gone.

Hayden is always a reliable player to have and will always go for the home run on most plays. Sometimes it backfires, but Hayden is always aware of the situation on the field and reacts better than most corners.


36. Mike Jenkins (DAL)

The future is bright for Jenkins, who plays opposite one of the best corners in the league and has the potential to become better. His awareness improved greatly towards the end of the season and his athletic ability is among the league's best.

Although his awareness seemed to improve, he still has a lot to learn and it definitely showed on the field. I expect a much more aggressive and confident Jenkins this year, which could set him up for success down the road.


37. Andre Goodman (MIA)

Goodman is a very quiet corner who makes big plays from time to time. Goodman positions himself very nicely on most plays and is not afraid hit, either. His agility and quickness are often overlooked, which makes him dangerous for quarterbacks and receivers.

He is just an underestimated player in many teams' eyes, but has the ability to hurt any team's offense if they don't take him as a serious threat.


38. Chris McAlister (BAL)

I am surprised to see McAlister slip on the Baltimore depth chart—I mean, he did help bring that city a Super Bowl trophy.

That is in the past, however, and regardless of what I might think of McAlister as a pure corner, he is no longer the number one. McAlister can still cover a majority of the receivers today and hit just like those Raven linebackers.

McAlister is always a threat to make a big play by creating or taking advantage of turnovers. This year, McAlister will probably be used as a reliable role player to help cushion this defense until the postseason.

I think McAlister will be more useful in the postseason than the regular—if Baltimore makes a playoff appearance.


39. Leigh Bodden (NE)

Bodden individually did not struggle in Cleveland; the secondary as a whole struggled.

Bodden still has the talent and potential to make big plays for any defense. He is now in a place where they will use his skills the right way for the benefit of that defense.

Bodden is a great talent, and will be used to his fullest potential in New England (just like every player).

Bodden can match-up one-on-one with many receivers and has great athletic ability to create turnovers. Expect a solid and productive year from Bodden—possibly the best you've seen from him.


40. Jason David (NO) - A reliable corner who can help defenses, but hurt them, too. He has a habit for giving up big plays down field in crucial situations. Overall, though, he is a solid corner.


41. Eric Wright (CLE) - He needs more maturity and knowledge to become successful, but his athletic skill shouldn't be questioned.


42. Ellis Hobbs (PHI) - We will see how effective he can be with limited playing time. His height is a weakness, but can make a play if needed.

43. Tim Jennings (IND)
- He is very underrated corner with a lot to prove this season. His game is a little soft, but he does seem to be in the right place at the right time.

44. Dunta Robinson (HOU)
- He is another underrated corner with leaping ability through the roof. He can make big plays at random points in a game (and is in my profile picture too).

45. Deshea Townsend (PIT)
- Deshea is overrated, if you ask me. He is a short corner who can defend decently, but gives up more plays than makes.

46. Nathan Vasher (CHI)
- His speed and athletic ability are very nice, but his consistency and big play capability have seemed to fade the past year or two.

47. Corey Webster (NYG)
- Webster is always a relaible player who will go hard every play. His defensive line makes him better than he actually is, but he can still ball.

48. Aqib Talib (TB)
- Talib might be a dark horse in the league this year. He is a tough, athletic kid with a lot to learn to become consistently successful.

49. DeAngelo Hall (WAS)
- Hall is a complete plane crash from where he was in Atlanta. He can still make plays—just not as much anymore, now that he is on a team with infinite cornerbacks.


50. Leodis McKelvin (BUF) - He should be WAY higher on this list. McKelvin has unbelievable athletic ability, great awareness, and play making capability at such a young age.


51. Fakhir Brown (STL)
52. Jonathan Wade (STL)
53. Vontae Davis (MIA)
54. Brandon Flowers (KC)
55. Jonathan Joesph (CIN)
56. Walt Harris (SF)
57. Josh Wilson (SEA)
58. Brian Williams (JAC)
59. Jacques Reeves (HOU)
60. Chevis Jackson (ATL)



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