B/R NFL 1000: Ranking the Top 101 Cornerbacks from 2015

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 30, 2016

B/R NFL 1000: Ranking the Top 101 Cornerbacks from 2015

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    At the end of the 2015 NFL season, who was the best cornerback in the game? We're not talking about who made the Pro Bowl or even who got the All-Pro votes. Who was really, truly the best? Forget reputation and how much money each player makes. We want cold, hard analysis that comes from watching the games and grading the players. 

    That's what the B/R NFL 1000 is for, and it's back for another year. 

    The B/R 1000 metric is based heavily on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance for a possible best score of 100.

    Potential and career accomplishments are not taken into consideration.

    Cornerbacks are judged on coverage (75 points), run defense (10), tackling (five) and the overall value of the position relative to the other spots on the field (nine points). The maximum score for this position is 99.

    In the case of ties, our team asked, "Which player would I rather have on my team?" and set the rankings accordingly.

    Subjective? Yes, but ties are no fun.

    A team of experienced evaluators (Dan Bazal, Luke Easterling, Cian Fahey, Duke Manyweather, Matt Miller and Marshal Miller) scouted each player with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study from our team. 

     

    Players' heights, weights, seasons played and sack totals from NFL.com. All other statistics from Pro Football Focus.

Nos. 101-96

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    101. Brandon Browner, New Orleans Saints

    74/99

    Coverage: 59/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The king of pass-interference penalties, Brandon Browner was a disaster for the Saints in 2015. He simply can’t move fast enough to play in a scheme that doesn’t give him a huge amount of help. Browner has heavy feet and a rigid core that prevents him from playing well in space.

    100. Trumaine McBride, New York Giants

    75/99

    Coverage: 61/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Everything about Trumaine McBride’s play is a step slower than it needs to be. He takes too many false steps on the field that push him out of position and allow his receivers more space than they actually create. Compounding that is McBride’s poor technique as a tackler.

    99. Jude Adjei-Barimah, Tampa Buccaneers

    75/99

    Coverage: 58/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Jude Adjei-Barimah played more for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015 than anyone would have wanted him to. The cornerback didn’t offer size or athleticism to defense while too often being a step behind when reacting in zone coverage.

    98. Darius Butler, Indianapolis Colts

    75/99

    Coverage: 59/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Although he has carved out a relatively long career at this point, Darius Butler has never been more than a fringe talent. He lacks the fluidity and foot frequency to successfully cover slot receivers in press coverage.

    97. Lardarius Webb, Baltimore Ravens

    75/99

    Coverage: 58/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Lardarius Webb is still a technically astute cornerback, but his injury issues have sapped his athleticism. His mind can anticipate routes and put him in good positions, but his body lacks the explosiveness and long speed to take advantage.

    96. Pierre Desir, Cleveland Browns

    76/99

    Coverage: 59/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 4/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Pierre Desir is a long athlete who could develop into a starting-caliber boundary cornerback at some point in his career. At this stage, his feet are too sloppy as he doesn’t control his weight well in space. Desir needs to refine his technique so he can disrupt routes at the line of scrimmage better.

Nos. 95-91

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    Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

    95. Greg Toler, Indianapolis Colts

    76/99

    Coverage: 58/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 5/5; Position Value: 9/9

    You never really know what you’re getting from Greg Toler. He is an aggressive cornerback but not an above-average athlete, so his ability to recover when beaten is essentially nonexistent. His greatest value may be his ability against the run where he can rely on his strength and size more.

    94. Nevin Lawson, Detroit Lions

    76/99

    Coverage: 60/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Nevin Lawson didn’t play much for the Detroit Lions in 2015, but when he did play he proved to be a volatile defender. Lawson’s footwork was inconsistent, causing him to lose at the line of scrimmage and bite on route fakes that weren’t especially deceptive.

    93. Buster Skrine, New York Jets

    76/99

    Coverage: 61/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The New York Jets were expecting a lot more from Buster Skrine in 2015. He was supposed to stay in the slot, but he played outside at times also. It didn’t matter where Skrine was—he was too often a step slow when trying to run with receivers in press-man coverage.

    92. Mike Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    76/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Mike Jenkins has never been a bad cover cornerback. However, he’s a limited cover cornerback who can only be marginally effective in zone and man coverage. Where he really drops off is against the run. Jenkins lacks instincts to find the football, and he can’t be relied upon to make tackles consistently.

    91. Coty Sensabaugh, Tennessee Titans

    76/99

    Coverage: 59/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The Titans shouldn't expect Coty Sensabaugh to develop at this point. He is a physically limited cornerback who can’t run with receivers in man coverage and lacks the awareness to be effective in zone. Sensabaugh is the type of player who has to fight for his roster spot every season.

Nos. 90-86

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    90. Brandon Carr, Dallas Cowboys

    76/99

    Coverage: 59/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Brandon Carr is a good tackler and a talented cover cornerback. When he played consistently in Kansas City, he was a valuable starter. In Dallas, he has never shown any consistency. Carr has the requisite length and footwork, as well as the ability to run with receivers down the sideline; he just loses receivers through their breaks too often and struggles to find the ball.

    89. Kevin Johnson, Houston Texans

    76/99

    Coverage: 59/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Rookie cornerbacks typically struggle with their transition from college to the pros. Kevin Johnson was a good example of this. He is clearly talented, showing off quick feet and good ball skills, but he was beaten too often in 2015. The Texans will hope his consistency comes over the coming seasons.

    88. Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets

    76/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Age catches up to every player eventually, and it typically catches up to cornerbacks quicker than anyone else. Antonio Cromartie (31) went from signing a big deal to re-signing with the Jets to being dropped back into the free-agent pool because of his declining physical talent. He still has his length and strength, but he couldn’t afford to lose the step he lost in 2015.

    87. Kyle Arrington, Baltimore Ravens

    77/99

    Coverage: 60/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 4/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The Ravens signed Kyle Arrington in the hopes of bringing in a consistent and competent slot cornerback. Instead they got a cornerback who was beaten too often, looking sluggish in his movement and uncertain of his assignments. He was benched during the season despite the Ravens' injury issues.

    86. Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Tennessee Titans

    77/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Blidi Wreh-Wilson has never developed the way the Titans envisioned he would. He still flashes good athleticism on occasion and has impressive length to intimidate receivers at the catch point, but slow feet and a lack of awareness limit his ability in coverage.

Nos. 85-81

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    85. Tyler Patmon, Dallas Cowboys

    77/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The Cowboys gave Tyler Patmon every chance to become their long-term option as the third cornerback on the depth chart. Patmon struggled, though. He couldn’t match the quickness of his assignments in man coverage and allowed his eyes to drag his body out of position too often in zone.

    84. Trevin Wade, New York Giants

    77/99

    Coverage: 60/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    It was difficult for Big Blue's cornerbacks to be effective in 2015 because of the complete inability of their safeties. As a player with limited athleticism and technical ability, Trevin Wade was never going to prosper in that defense. He was far from the Giants' biggest problem and generally played to his level of talent; he’s just a limited player who needs to be in a better situation.

    83. Sterling Moore, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    77/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Sterling Moore missed eight tackles in 2015—a number that was surprisingly high for a player who shows off consistent technique and aggression against contact. He isn’t built to play man coverage; he’s a zone cornerback who plays with discipline but has physical limitations at this level.

    82. E.J. Biggers, Philadelphia Eagles

    77/99

    Coverage: 61/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    You only need one word to describe E.J. Biggers: loose. He is a high-intensity player who allows his weight to pull him around the field. He will often try to be physical with receivers but lacks the size or footwork to be effective that way. Biggers was miscast in 2015; he needs to fill a smaller role on defense than the one he was forced into for the Eagles.

    81. Morris Claiborne, Dallas Cowboys

    77/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Morris Claiborne has flashed his talent on occasion over the course of his career, but inconsistency and injuries have made him a bust. Opponents picked on him a lot in 2015, and he didn’t respond often enough. He's still slow to process plays in coverage.

Nos. 80-76

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    80. Jamar Taylor, Miami Dolphins

    77/99

    Coverage: 59/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Jamar Taylor is a frustrating cornerback. He can perfectly cover receivers through the early stages of his routes, but at the point of striking and finding the football, he too often hesitates. He allows receivers to take positioning from him instead of establishing his body ahead of them and aggressively attacking the ball. He makes the quarterback and receiver’s job easier.

    79. Johnthan Banks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    77/99

    Coverage: 61/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Having meandered his way through mediocrity during the early stages of his career, Johnthan Banks needed to impress in 2015. Despite his physical talent and size, Banks has never quite grasped the technical aspects of playing coverage in the NFL. He struggles to locate the ball, regardless of his assignment, and can’t aggressively break on routes from zone coverages.

    78. Kyle Wilson, New Orleans Saints

    77/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Kyle Wilson was brought to New Orleans to be a matchup piece for the Saints. He could line up against smaller, quicker receivers and play inside in nickel packages. The Jets drafted him to do the same. Like the Jets, the Saints quickly found out Wilson’s inconsistency with his hands and imprecise feet negated his athleticism too often.

    77. Neiko Thorpe, Oakland Raiders

    78/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Neiko Thorpe isn’t a young player (26), but he is an inexperienced one whom the Raiders will hope to develop over the coming seasons. Thorpe has good size and can play physically impressive coverage at times. However, he needs to develop better consistency and show quicker feet to become a starting-caliber defensive back in the NFL.

    76. Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins

    78/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The Miami Dolphins asked too much of Brent Grimes in 2015. Whether it was following Brandon Marshall or Sammy Watkins, Grimes simply didn't show the legs to do it anymore. Most cornerbacks can't afford to play as slowly as he did last year, but a smaller one—like him (5'10")—definitely can’t.

Nos. 75-71

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    75. Janoris Jenkins, St. Louis Rams

    78/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Janoris Jenkins remains consistently inconsistent. He is frustrating because he has every physical trait that a great cornerback needs. He even has great ball skills to go with them. Yet he continues to be one of the NFL's least disciplined cornerbacks, often abandoning his assignment to try to jump routes.

    74. Jerraud Powers, Arizona Cardinals

    78/99

    Coverage: 61/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Despite being an undersized cornerback, Jerraud Powers (5'10") has an aggressive streak. He’s willing to be aggressive and fight receivers through their routes even if he can’t always impact them. Powers needs to be more consistent with his ball skills to find the football ahead of receivers who possess greater length than him.

    73. Ross Cockrell, Pittsburgh Steelers

    78/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The Steelers drafted two cornerbacks to reinforce their secondary in 2015, but neither was available during the season. Ross Cockrell stepped in to offer the secondary some discipline and consistency. He showed off good positioning and understood how to attack the ball in the air with his length.

    72. Shareece Wright, Baltimore Ravens

    78/99

    Coverage: 59/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 4/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Shareece Wright proved to be a good signing for the Baltimore Ravens. He arrived during the season when the Ravens needed cornerback reinforcements. Wright offered the Ravens someone with the athleticism to play in space and run with receivers downfield. He could consistently compete at the catch point when tight to receivers.

    71. Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens

    78/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Jimmy Smith needs to display his talent more often. He has looked like one of the league's best cornerbacks at points in his career; he can use his physicality and length to shut down sideline routes. However, he didn’t do that in 2015 consistently, instead showing looser footwork and less consistency finding the football after tracking receivers downfield. Injuries have consistently been an issue throughout his career.

Nos. 70-66

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    Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    70. Tracy Porter, Chicago Bears

    78/99

    Coverage: 61/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The Bears defense is in transition, and Tracy Porter won’t be a long-term piece of the foundation. Yet he was still a valuable piece in 2015. His ability to find the ball at the catch point without playing through receivers stood out, and he was clearly comfortable reading routes and breaking on the ball in John Fox’s defense.

    69. Nolan Carroll, Philadelphia Eagles

    79/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 4/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Nolan Carroll is at best a limited slot cornerback. In 2015, the Philadelphia Eagles asked him to play as a starter outside, where his skill set was overextended. Bigger receivers could pick on him at the catch point while also bumping him to create separation through their routes. Carroll can show off quick feet, but they are too often imprecise, causing him to slide past routes or give up space in behind.

    68. Bene Benwikere, Carolina Panthers

    79/99

    Coverage: 61/75; Run Defense: 8/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    It’s easier to play cornerback in Carolina than in most places, yet Bene Benwikere still had his struggles before he was injured late in the season. He offers the Panthers an aggressive, explosive slot defender who can be used in different ways. He lacks consistency, though, especially when trying to make tackles in space.

    67. Justin Bethel, Arizona Cardinals

    79/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Expecting Justin Bethel to be a reliable starter outside is asking too much of him. He has limited athleticism and struggles to turn and locate the ball when running with receivers down the sideline. He can’t establish positioning and outmuscle receivers from their spots consistently, but he is consistent in his assignments, showing off good discipline and awareness.

    66. Nickell Robey, Buffalo Bills

    79/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    2015 was another season when Nickell Robey struggled to live up to the standards he set as a rookie in 2013. The smaller cornerback needs to be almost perfect with his coverage on every snap to offer value to his defense because he can’t recover easily against NFL athletes. Robey’s footwork is good, but it has to be great when you’re 5’8”.

Nos. 65-61

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    65. Davon House, Jacksonville Jaguars

    79/99

    Coverage: 64/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The Jaguars should feel optimistic about Davon House moving forward. He was inconsistent in his first season with his new team, but he also had games where he showed off shutdown ability as a boundary defender. His length and ability to shift his weight comfortably allow him to body up bigger receivers and fight them for the ball.

    64. Rashean Mathis, Detroit Lions

    80/99

    Coverage: 62/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Rashean Mathis had his season cut short, and afterward he announced it would be his final one in the NFL. Mathis can retire comfortable in the knowledge he finished out his career by playing consistent, reliable football for the Detroit Lions. He didn’t have the physical talent of his peers but made up for it with his footwork and awareness in his assignments.

    63. Justin Coleman, New England Patriots

    80/99

    Coverage: 64/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Plucking cornerbacks out of obscurity is Bill Belichick’s specialty. Justin Coleman is just another example. The versatile defensive back showed he can play inside and outside during 2015 while possessing a wide-ranging skill set and the consistency to earn the trust of an untrusting head coach.

    62. Tramon Williams, Cleveland Browns

    80/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The Browns were expecting more from their cornerbacks in 2015—Tramon Williams in particular. He was signed to be a starter across from Joe Haden. The veteran showed his age (33), though, losing a step running with vertical routes downfield and struggling to stick as tightly with receivers through their breaks.

    61. Johnathan Joseph, Houston Texans

    80/99

    Coverage: 65/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    At this stage of his career, Johnathan Joseph is just holding onto his spot as an NFL starter. His athleticism has diminished over the years to the point he no longer has that burst to close on the ball from five yards away faster than anyone else in the league. Joseph is still a viable option for the Texans, but Kevin Johnson and Kareem Jackson will be the top options soon enough.

Nos. 60-56

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    Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    60. Alterraun Verner, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    81/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Alterraun Verner was inconsistent as a boundary cornerback for Lovie Smith, so the former Bucs head coach moved him inside during the 2015 season. Verner too often looks lost in his assignment, not showing the footwork or body control to stick with receivers through routes or the awareness to adjust properly in zone.

    59. Brice McCain, Miami Dolphins

    81/99

    Coverage: 65/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    It quickly became clear Brice McCain wasn’t going to live up to the contract the Miami Dolphins gave him. He was demoted from his spot on the boundary to play in nickel because of his inability to close on receivers in space. The Dolphins primarily played off-man coverage, but McCain began plays too far from his assignments to contain them consistently.

    58. Kenneth Acker, San Francisco 49ers

    81/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Kenneth Acker has the size to play aggressive coverage, but he lacks the control in his feet to turn and run with receivers in man coverage. Locating the ball becomes a major problem for Acker unless he can keep the play in front of him at all times. The 49ers won’t want to rely on him too heavily moving forward.

    57. K'Waun Williams, Cleveland Browns

    81/99

    Coverage: 61/75; Run Defense: 8/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Toward the end of the 2014 season, K’Waun Williams was showing flashes of his ability as a slot cornerback. He showed flashes again through the 2015 season. Williams’ feet are quick enough for him to play man coverage inside, while he is consistent and disciplined with his positioning in zone coverage. He may not be a great talent, but he is a good role player.

    56. Quandre Diggs, Detroit Lions

    81/99

    Coverage: 61/75; Run Defense: 9/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    It took Quandre Diggs a long time to take over the slot cornerback role in Detroit, but when he did he never looked back. Diggs shows off the foot frequency and awareness to be trusted in tougher assignments. Even though he’s not particularly tall, he does make the most of his length to work against smaller receivers in tight coverage.

Nos. 55-51

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    Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

    55. Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys

    81/99

    Coverage: 63/75; Run Defense: 6/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The Cowboys should keep Byron Jones at safety. While he can have some success as a defensive back by dropping down to play man coverage against tight ends and bigger receivers, Jones’ large, rigid frame proved to be a problem when trying to stick to receivers in space. He can develop better technique and awareness as he grows, but he won’t be able to remove that rigid movement from his play.

    54. Bryce Callahan, Chicago Bears

    81/99

    Coverage: 66/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 2/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Bryce Callahan didn’t play much in 2015 for the Bears, but he did show he belongs in the NFL over that short time. He proved to be a sure tackler who played with intensity and awareness while fitting into the Bears' slot cornerback role. He likely won’t ever be a lockdown slot cornerback who can play man coverage on every snap, though.

    53. Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals

    81/99

    Coverage: 66/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    The big-hitting, strong cornerback from Alabama continues to drift under the radar in the NFL. Dre Kirkpatrick was picked on a lot for the Bengals last year. Playing on the boundary, he needs to make better use of his size to control receivers in their routes with his hands, squeezing the space available away.

    52. Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers

    81/99

    Coverage: 67/75; Run Defense: 4/10; Tackling: 1/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Sam Shields is an important player for Dom Capers' defense because the Packers trust him to play press-man coverage. He isn’t a lockdown cornerback by any measurehe’s far from itbut he has the athleticism to run with receivers and the ball skills to find the football in different situations.

    51. Terence Newman, Minnesota Vikings

    81/99

    Coverage: 64/75; Run Defense: 5/10; Tackling: 3/5; Position Value: 9/9

    Terence Newman had an up-and-down season for the Vikings. His athleticism continues to erode away, affecting his ability in space, but he is still an aggressive cornerback who can physically intimidate receivers and control them through their routes. He finds the football in zone coverage and is a smart run defender even though he missed too many tackles (six) in 2015.

50. Will Blackmon, Washington

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    65/75

    Will Blackmon enjoyed a career revival in Washington during the 2015 season. Playing in defensive coordinator Joe Berry's scheme, Blackmon was allowed to let his instincts shine. And given he was fully healthy, he showed the savvy man-coverage skills that made him a priority for the team to re-sign in free agency. Blackmon, playing 80.2 percent of Washington's snaps (including the postseason), grabbed two interceptions but gave up seven touchdowns. Playing the ball against speedier receivers, instead of guarding the player and going for a tackle after the catch, saw him give up two touchdowns against the New York Giants in one game. 

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Being willing to come up and put your shoulder on the ball-carrier is a crucial part of run defense, and Blackmon has no issues there. He's capable of being physical and will work to get off blocks and make plays on the sideline. 

    Tackling

    2/5

    As a tackler, Blackmon was impressive early in the campaign before struggling once the weather got cold and the competition got better at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. In his last four games, he missed six tackles—more than he'd missed in the entire season to that point. 

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    81/99

49. Dwayne Gratz, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    62/75

    Dwayne Gratz isn’t a lockdown cornerback. He is a defender who needs to be kept in simple assignments to be effective. In those assignments, he can be useful because of his well-rounded skill set. Gratz has quick, balanced feet as well as good instincts to position himself in zone coverage and track receivers through their routes in man coverage.

    Run Defense

    7/10

    Gratz is a disciplined run defender, as he understands when to explode inside to disrupt a run's design and when to stay outside and force the play back to his linebackers or safety help.

    Tackling

    4/5

    The 5'11" Gratz isn’t a big hitter or a particularly long defender. He is a consistent technician who relies on his footwork and arms to clamp down on ball-carriers.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

48. Jalen Collins, Atlanta Falcons

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    64/75

    Jalen Collins didn’t have a big role in the Atlanta Falcons defense during his rookie season, but when he was on the field, it was easy to see why the team drafted him in the second round. He showed some inconsistency that could be attributed to a rookie adjusting to a new playing speed, but his physical talent was obvious. Collins combines quick, precise feet and a strong upper body to be effective in space.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Physical talent and a high motor can do a lot for a defensive back against the run. Collins has both in abundance. He still needs to restrain his aggression at times to prevent himself from running out of plays, but the talent is obvious.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Control is Collins' main issue. He needs to do a better job of locating ball-carriers in space as he tries to aggressively engage them.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

47. Cary Williams, Seattle Seahawks

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    Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    63/75

    Cary Williams is a player who will always tantalize defensive backs coaches because they believe they can fix him. He has the natural ability to disrupt a route's timing at the line of scrimmage, but he's lost after that point. Williams doesn’t locate the ball or show off precise feet in man coverage, while his instincts in zone are unapparent.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Williams isn’t the quickest defensive back when transitioning from coverage assignments to playing the run, but he does close quickly to the line of scrimmage. He boasts controlled aggression to attack space and create leverage against bigger bodies in tight areas. He can be overly aggressive on the outside, running himself out of plays.

    Tackling

    5/5

    For as limited as Williams is in coverage, he has never had an issue bringing down ball-carriers in space. He is an efficient tackler who can make strong hits even though he won’t punish running backs.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

46. Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    60/75

    Kareem Jackson is a physically gifted cornerback who can be effective in different assignments. He has the length and athleticism to play press-man coverage on the boundary while also showing off the footwork to quickly shift his weight in zone. The 5'10" Jackson is more susceptible when he is asked to play the slot inside but showed off some ability in that area in 2015.

    Run Defense

    9/10

    With his physical talent, Jackson is able to transition quickly from playing coverage to filling run gaps. He pursues the ball with intensity and discipline while trying to impact ball-carriers at the earliest possible point.

    Tackling

    4/5

    Jackson is a consistent tackler who shows off strong technique in space. He understands how to use his shoulders and arms to wrap up running backs and is capable of landing hard hits on smaller receivers.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

45. Leon Hall, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    64/75

    Leon Hall remains one of the NFL's better slot cornerbacks. The 5'11" Hall showed off his trademark combination of length and quick feet to track smaller receivers from the slot throughout most of the regular season. Some inconsistency crept into his game during the year's final weeks as his reaction time slowed in man coverage.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    One of the notable aspects of Hall’s play since he returned from his second torn Achilles has been his ability to make heavy plants before closing on the line of scrimmage. He has lost a step in run defense because he is slower in getting to gaps than in previous years.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Hall is a reliable tackler who won’t punish receivers working over the middle of the field. He plays with good technique to wrap up ball-carriers instead of attempting to power through them with his shoulder.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

44. Phillip Adams, Atlanta Falcons

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    Coverage

    66/75

    Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn didn’t rely on Phillip Adams to be a full-time starter in his defense, but he was able to move the cornerback around somewhat. The 5'11", 195-pounder has decent size and good feet. He understands how to position himself in the Falcons' Cover 3-heavy defense while also showing the awareness to adapt to route combinations that develop in front of him.

    Run Defense

    4/10

    The Falcons needed Adams to show better awareness in this area. He was too slow to react to the run and close on the ball in zone coverages, while his run fits were unbalanced. There were times when he overran gaps or was too lazy or impatient in filling them.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Adams attempted to play with discipline and showed off good technique more often than not in his tackle attempts, but quicker ball-carriers could escape his grasp too easily. He missed four tackles on 435 snaps last year.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

43. Lamarcus Joyner, St. Louis Rams

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    Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    63/75

    The Rams had high hopes for Lamarcus Joyner, a 2014 second-round pick, as a versatile piece in the secondary. He has the skill set to play safety or slot cornerback and possesses impressive feet and upper-body fluidity to adjust to the ball in the air. The Rams have yet to get the most out of Joyner, though, as he continues his inconsistent play, drifting away from his receivers through their routes while playing man coverage and getting drawn out of position in zone.

    Run Defense

    8/10

    When you play inside as much as Joyner did in 2015, you have to be an aggressive run defender. While he had issues bringing ball-carriers to the ground, he didn’t have problems in finding the football or filling running lanes.

    Tackling

    2/5

    Joyner has the same issue that most Rams defensive backs have—they lack discipline in their tackle attempts. He too often tries to make an impact hit rather than focus on wrapping up runners.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

42. Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Coverage

    62/75

    The San Francisco 49ers’ designated slot cornerback continues to show signs of improvement as he progresses through the early stages of his career. Jimmie Ward is at his best when playing underneath zones—not surprising since he is a safety/cornerback—but he is also growing more consistent with his technique and footwork to stick with receivers through man-coverage assignments.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    The game still moves a little too fast for the 24-year-old at this stage of his career. It appears his focus on his coverage assignments and play-diagnosis skills make him hesitant to attack running plays consistently.

    Tackling

    5/5

    Whether in space or in tight, Ward is a good tackler. He missed only two tackles in 2015. The safety side of his skill set can be seen in how he hits ball-carriers with controlled aggression.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

41. Bobby McCain, Miami Dolphins

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    Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    66/75

    Bobby McCain, 22, is the younger, more athletic McCain playing for the Dolphins defense. He was better suited to function in the off-man scheme because of his ability to close space against receivers. He proved to be raw during his rookie season, though, often taking false steps or biting too hard on the receiver’s initial actions. McCain moved in and out of the lineup because of his inconsistency.

    Run Defense

    4/10

    It’s tough to be a good run defender in an off-man scheme when you’re already trying to adapt to the speed of the pro game. Opponents regularly neutralized McCain because he had to train his eyes on the receiver and couldn’t read when the receiver was releasing into a route or simply running toward him to execute a block.

    Tackling

    3/5

    McCain needs to increase his involvement against the run so he can make more tackles closer to the line of scrimmage. In space, he struggled to square up to receivers and connect his shoulder to execute form tackles.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

40. Jayron Hosley, New York Giants

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    Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    66/75

    Jayron Hosley has stuck to the New York Giants roster for four seasons because of his discipline and consistency. He is a limited player, as the 5'10", 178-pound corner doesn't possess great physical attributes, awareness or ball skills, but the Giants knew he would position himself correctly and account for his assignment on every snap. Hosley needs to improve how he uses his length to better disrupt receivers at the catch point.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    The discipline in Hosley’s general play stretches to his run defense. He doesn’t have great intensity or strength to fight through blocks on the edge, but he will read and react to run plays quickly.

    Tackling

    1/5

    Hosley lacks strength to impact ball-carriers at the point of contact. He also doesn’t show off great quickness or intensity to compensate for that strength by attacking their lower body. The cornerback missed six tackles last year.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

39. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    64/75

    It wasn’t a season to remember for Vontae Davis. The Indianapolis Colts cornerback struggled to stick with wide receivers down the boundary like he had previously. He also remained susceptible to in-breaking routes. Davis needs to show off quicker, more precise feet to play the type of aggressive man coverage the Colts ask of him.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    With his size and strength, the 5'11", 207-pound Davis only needs to recognize run plays and screens to force his way to the ball. He can come down and set the edge against tight ends and will penetrate into the backfield when teams try to run horizontally.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Davis didn't punish receivers the way he had in previous years, but he showed off consistent technique when executing tackles in space.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    82/99

38. Captain Munnerlyn, Minnesota Vikings

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    Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    63/75

    After disappointing as a full-time starter on the outside in 2014 for the Minnesota Vikings, Captain Munnerlyn enjoyed a bounce-back season in 2015 by playing the slot. The 5'9", 195-pound Munnerlyn’s size was a greater issue outside, whereas playing inside allowed him to use his quickness in more space and drop into different zone coverages. He played an important role in the Vikings’ blitz packages because of his versatility.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Though not a big defender, Munnerlyn makes up for his physical limitations by relying on his aggression and intensity. He will be squashed out of plays by offensive linemen at times but can hold his own against tight ends and work through gaps to disrupt the design of outside runs.

    Tackling

    5/5

    Because of his compact frame, it is easier for Munnerlyn to concentrate his power and hit receivers at the point of contact. When he’s not doing that, he shows off consistent technique to drag down ball-carriers quickly.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    83/99

37. Bashaud Breeland, Washington

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Coverage

    61/75

    The Washington coaching staff trusts Bashaud Breeland to do a variety of things. That is because he is a physically gifted player with the quick feet and fluidity to be effective in different ways. Breeland needs to show greater consistency, though. He will lose the ball in the air or misstep in man coverage so that he can’t play the required technique against downfield routes.

    Run Defense

    9/10

    Relying on his physical talent, Breeland can quickly close on ball-carriers. He has the quickness and acceleration to penetrate through gaps on outside runs as well as the strength and aggression to fend off or block attempts from receivers.

    Tackling

    4/5

    Although he's not one of the league's most consistent tacklers, Breeland is consistent enough to be considered one of the league's better tacklers because of how hard he can hit receivers. He doesn’t necessarily decleat his opponents, but he can punish them if they expose their midsections.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    83/99

36. DeShawn Shead, Seattle Seahawks

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    Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    66/75

    It didn’t take long for DeShawn Shead to prove he was a better option than Cary Williams. Shead had his issues, but few cornerbacks in the league can bump and run with Martavis Bryant and look comfortable doing so. That is the kind of athlete the 6'2", 220-pound Shead is. With his size and speed, he can lock down boundary routes so long as he shows off consistent ball skills.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    In the Seahawks' Cover 3 defense, the cornerbacks need to show great awareness in diagnosing run plays. Shead struggled to do that in 2015, as he too often hesitated when he should have been penetrating.

    Tackling

    3/5

    One of the problems with being a bigger cornerback is making tackles in space. Not only are shorter receivers typically quicker, but once you have caught up to them, you have to get low and locate their hips or lower body to drag them down. Shead struggled as a tackler in 2015 because of his size.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    83/99

35. Tramaine Brock, San Francisco 49ers

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    67/75

    Tramaine Brock doesn’t have the swiftest feet, but he is quick enough to be an effective player in space. The 5'10", 197-pounder has good size even though he’s not 6’0”. Most importantly, he has the strength to outmuscle defenders at the catch point and understands how to use his length to disrupt receivers and get deflections. Brock has good awareness and understands positioning when dropping into zone coverages.

    Run Defense

    4/10

    Brock needs to develop better instincts against the run. His angles toward the football can leave space for ball-carriers to attack, and he should get off blocks more comfortably considering the strength he shows against receivers at the catch point.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Although he doesn’t miss many tackles, Brock also isn’t the league's most comfortable tackler. He could show better technique and consistency in wrapping up ball-carriers in space and not concede ground in the tackle.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    83/99

34. Patrick Robinson, San Diego Chargers

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    Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    66/75

    Patrick Robinson has always had the physical talent to be one of the NFL's better cornerbacks. Through his time in New Orleans, he struggled to consistently locate the ball in the air and stick with receivers through their routes in man coverage. Robinson was the type of cornerback who would too often lose focus on his assignment while with the Saints. That wasn’t an issue in 2015. He was fully focused and played with controlled intensity.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Robinson still looks too hesitant when receivers engage him in blocks. He doesn’t fight through contact or show off the strength to shed receivers. He needs to play more aggressively while attacking gaps to make up for his inability to detach.

    Tackling

    3/5

    A fair complaint about Robinson can be made regarding his inability to be physical against contact. He is a relatively consistent tackler, but he can’t punish even the smallest of receivers with any kind of regularity.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    83/99

33. T.J. Carrie, Oakland Raiders

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    Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    67/75

    T.J. Carrie has been picked on a lot during his career. He gets beaten regularly, but he typically makes receivers earn the separation they create. Carrie has good feet for a 6’0” defensive back. When he can stick with his receivers and anticipate routes from zone coverage, he is able to locate the ball comfortably and deflect it away with his length.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Carrie is disciplined player who works toward the line of scrimmage to contain outside runs with his positioning and will fight through receivers' attempted blocks. He can use his size and weight to force his way to the football, even though he gets into trouble once he finds it.

    Tackling

    1/5

    Carrie is a bad tackler. He struggles to locate receivers in space and showcases terrible technique when trying to bring down bigger ball-carriers in tight. He’s as much of a liability in terms of tackling as any cornerback in the league.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    83/99

32. Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Coverage

    67/75

    The Chicago Bears are still waiting to see Kyle Fuller's best, but his 2015 season provided some optimism. Fuller has quick feet and can flip his hips in a hurry to adjust in zone coverage or track receivers through their routes in man. His ball skills need to become more consistent so he can take advantage of the good positions he puts himself in.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Fuller is quick to react to run plays and will attack space when it appears in front of him as he tries to penetrate downfield. He needs to show better awareness when attempting to fill running lanes. He also needs to display more intensity against blockers.

    Tackling

    2/5

    Over the course of the 2015 season, Fuller missed 10 tackles. Better technique in wrapping up ball-carriers would help a lot, but he also needs to display better instincts to locate receivers in space.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    83/99

31. Byron Maxwell, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    64/75

    The Seattle Seahawks put Byron Maxwell in confined spaces where he could maximize his ability to disrupt receivers at the catch point. Philadelphia asked him to play in more space in 2015, and he didn’t have the quick feet to stick with receivers in press-man coverage. Maxwell’s heavy feet were exposed, negating his ability to dominate at the catch point.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Even though he didn’t live up to expectations in coverage, Maxwell was still a reliable run defender. The 6'1" corner uses his length to fend off blockers and force his way to the ball in space while showing the controlled aggression required to set the edge against tight ends.

    Tackling

    4/5

    Maxwell has always shown a knack for pressuring ball security. He can attack it with his long arms, showing off power, while still making form tackles when he needs to.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    83/99

30. Logan Ryan, New England Patriots

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    Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    64/75

    Logan Ryan is a typical Bill Belichick cornerback. He is well-rounded in his physical skill set and shows off consistency in his positioning. Ryan rarely makes mistakes; when he is beaten, he is beaten by players who are more physically gifted rather than receivers who can defeat him technically.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Whether he is playing inside or outside, Ryan shows off the intelligence and awareness to diagnose run plays and be proactive in his pursuit of the ball-carrier. He will work to create leverage against blockers, even though he doesn’t always use his hands to fight through contact.

    Tackling

    5/5

    Ryan simply doesn’t miss tackles. He missed one in 1,150 snaps last season. He combines technical discipline with consistent effort and an ability to locate ball-carriers in space.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    84/99

29. Robert Alford, Atlanta Falcons

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    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    67/75

    Robert Alford proved to be an ideal fit in Dan Quinn’s Cover 3-heavy defense. Alford showed off the ability to recognize routes and quickly adjust, shifting his weight comfortably while playing at speed. The 5'10" cornerback was able to get his hands on a lot of passes by combining those traits with an understanding of how to use his length when the ball was in the air.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    There are a large number of NFL defensive backs who submit to blocks from wide receivers instead of fighting to penetrate into the play. Alford is quick to read runs and react before closing on the line of scrimmage, but he needs to show more aggression.

    Tackling

    3/5

    After three years in the league, it's clear Alford is a natural cover cornerback, but he still has to work on his technique as a tackler. He can show perfect form, but there were too many sloppy plays in 2015.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    84/99

28. Casey Hayward, Green Bay Packers

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    65/75

    Since he entered the league in 2012, Casey Hayward has been heavily praised for his footwork. He is a natural cornerback, possessing the quickness and precision to stay balanced in coverage whether playing inside or outside. Hayward is better suited to play inside because he aggressively pursues interceptions, taking risks that expose him when left alone. Inside, he is more likely to have a safety or linebacker he can force the receiver to.

    Run Defense

    8/10

    Playing inside always puts a lot of pressure on a cornerback to think like a linebacker. Hayward diagnoses run plays quickly and is willing to aggressively force his way past the inside shoulder of offensive linemen and tackles. He obviously doesn’t have the strength to take them on one-on-one, but he can create leverage advantages by attacking the space near them.

    Tackling

    2/5

    Hayward missed a lot of tackles in 2015—14 to be exact. That number reflects his approach. Hayward is athletic enough to bring anyone to the ground but doesn’t wrap up or attack ball-carriers low to create leverage.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    84/99

27. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    68/75

    Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the better man-cover cornerbacks in the NFL. He doesn’t offer a wide skill set to be as effective in zone, and he will drop some interception opportunities, but his quickness, speed and balance to stick with receivers on vertical routes down the sideline are all impressive. Rodgers-Cromartie lacks bulk but can make up for it with aggressive ball skills.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Rodgers-Cromartie lacks intensity against the run. That may be a result of his size and trying to deliver hits against bigger ball-carriers over the course of his career, but he is a reluctant participant on running plays. He won’t fight through blocks or even make a big effort to engage in them on occasion.

    Tackling

    2/5

    Rodgers-Cromartie missed eight tackles in 2015. He likely would have had many more if he had played with additional effort in pursuit of ball-carriers.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    84/99

26. Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo Bills

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    Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    68/75

    Stephon Gilmore is a bully—one who excels in press-man coverage because of his upper-body strength. He can disrupt receivers' timing as they try to release into their routes or squeeze away their space when they look to advance down the sideline. Gilmore is less effective on in-breaking routes, but he possesses quick enough feet to track receivers through their breaks when left in space.

    Run Defense

    4/10

    For such a strong defensive back, Gilmore should be better at shedding blockers in space. He can come down and set the edge by establishing his positioning early and using his strength to repel attempts to push him off his spot, but he needs to show better hand usage to actually beat blocks.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Gilmore is a form tackler who will bring down running backs when he is asked to. He can punish receivers when he anticipates routes but needs to be quicker to become more reliable in space.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    84/99

25. Sean Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    65/75

    Sean Smith has been a man-coverage specialist since he entered the NFL in 2009. His physical talent and 6'3" size allow him to be aggressive from press alignments while turning to run with the faster receivers down the boundary. Where Smith struggles is when he's tasked with working horizontally or when he needs to locate the ball in the air.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Although he is a long athlete with good strength, Smith isn’t able to use those traits to shed blocks. He is inconsistent with his intensity in attacking the line of scrimmage, but when he is aggressive, he can cut through traffic to penetrate against outside runs.

    Tackling

    5/5

    When Smith drops his shoulder into ball-carriers, he makes an impact. He understands how to focus his power without losing the ability to wrap up his opponent using his arms.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    84/99

24. Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota Vikings

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    Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    67/75

    The 6'1", 218-pound Xavier Rhodes is a big cornerback but not a particularly physical or strong one. He doesn’t fend off receivers at the catch point and struggles to disrupt the timing of routes at the line of scrimmage. Rhodes needs to develop better strength and hand usage to compensate for the limitations created by his footwork. He can rely on his size to erase receivers down the sideline, but he lacks consistency because of his specific flaws.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Any defensive back who is going to play in a Mike Zimmer defense has to treat running plays with the same commitment he treats passing plays. Rhodes is an aggressive run defender who can use his size to shed blockers and set the edge. His hand usage is good but inconsistent.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Rhodes doesn’t miss tackles. He uses his long arms and combines them with consistent technique to pull defenders to the ground. He will concede space in the tackle and can’t deliver big hits consistently. Rhodes’ value is in his efficiency.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    84/99

23. William Gay, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    68/75

    William Gay’s late-career resurgence continued in 2015. He has been a reliable outside starter for the Steelers since returning in 2013 for his second stint with the team. He shows off consistency with his positioning in zone coverage, making smart decisions as he reads routes and the quarterback’s eyes. Gay’s ball skills were always impressive, but his experience over the years has allowed him to become a better cover corner, too.

    Run Defense

    7/10

    Gay is a Dick LeBeau defensive back, and Dick LeBeau defensive backs always have to play the run. Even with LeBeau now in Tennessee, Gay was still reading and reacting to run plays as quickly as any cornerback in the league. He is reliant on attacking space rather than taking on blocks; however, the 5'10", 187-pound defender lacks the size to shed receivers.

    Tackling

    1/5

    There has always been an element of panic in Gay’s pursuit of ball-carriers. He arrives too quickly and overshoots his angle. Without great arm strength to pull down ball-carriers from a distance, he is unable to complete tackles in space consistently.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    85/99

22. David Amerson, Oakland Raiders

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Coverage

    68/75

    David Amerson became a different player after going to Oakland from Washington in Week 3. He played faster, showing off comfort and confidence in his assignments. The 6'1" Amerson relies heavily on his length and ball skills to win at the catch point. He had 14 pass breakups as he routinely put himself in position to read the ball's flight and aggressively attack it in the air.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Amerson is a physical, intense run defender who won’t consistently set the edge. He instead takes risks in search of penetration. He will create space for running backs to attack while also disrupting the design of outside runs.

    Tackling

    2/5

    Amerson missed one tackle for every 100 snaps he played. He needs to show greater consistency with his technique but has the physical tools to be an efficient tackler both in space and in tight situations against bigger backs.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    85/99

21. Trumaine Johnson, St. Louis Rams

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    Coverage

    70/75

    Trumaine Johnson established himself as the St. Louis Rams’ best defensive back in 2015. He isn’t as physically gifted as former teammate Janoris Jenkins, but he has quick feet and good size (6'2", 208 lbs) and showed much greater discipline. Johnson can track receivers in man coverage and shows intelligence in zone coverage. He doesn’t have exceptional ball skills but can high-point and adjust to passes down the sideline.

    Run Defense

    4/10

    Johnson needs to make better use of his size and strength. Blockers push him out of plays too often, and he doesn’t show off the footwork to reset against aggression. Johnson has the physical ability to be a good run defender but can’t technically take advantage.

    Tackling

    2/5

    Worsening Johnson’s run defense is his inability as a tackler. To become a more efficient tackler, he has to do a better job of locating and closing on defenders in space while using his shoulder to impact ball-carriers more consistently. Rams defensive backs in general have poor tackling technique.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    85/99

20. Jason Verrett, San Diego Chargers

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    Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    65/75

    There may not be an NFL cornerback who has better feet than Jason Verrett. The San Diego Chargers defender matches extreme quickness with precision to set himself up in the perfect position for every situation. The 5'10", 188-pound Verrett combines that quickness with robust upper-body strength to fight for positioning against bigger receivers.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Verrett is quick to diagnose screen plays in front of him, penetrating past blockers to close on receivers or running backs in the flat. He shows the same intensity against run plays but lacks the quick recognition to transition from coverage assignments to stopping plays close to the line of scrimmage.

    Tackling

    5/5

    Despite his size and shoulder issues in previous years, Verrett shows no hesitation in attacking and making contact. He needs to display consistent form to overcome his size deficiencies, and he has done that to this point in his two-year career.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    85/99

19. Bradley Roby, Denver Broncos

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    66/75

    It’s easy to overlook Bradley Roby. Playing next to Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib will do that to you, but 2015 was Roby’s year. He established himself as a quality starter by showing off precise feet to go with his previously established athleticism and length. The 5'11", 194-pound Roby is an ideal boundary cornerback who has the potential to grow into a shutdown corner.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Roby needs to learn how to better use his hands to disengage from receivers against the run. When trying to attack space with his athleticism to penetrate against outside runs, he needs to show off more control to contain plays inside.

    Tackling

    5/5

    Bradley can deliver heavy hits against receivers when he anticipates routes from zone coverage. He also has the length to close on receivers while showing off good form to control his momentum. Roby needs to do a better job of locating receivers in space, though.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    85/99

18. Damarious Randall, Green Bay Packers

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    66/75

    For a player who was playing safety just 12 months ago in college football, Damarious Randall showed natural ability as an NFL cornerback. He is a great athlete, showing off his quickness and speed in man coverage while also possessing good instincts to adapt in zone coverages. The Packers are right to have high hopes for the young defensive back moving forward.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Being a converted safety helped Randall in his attempts to diagnose what was happening in front of him on running plays. He did a good job of finding his way through traffic consistently, even though he too often submitted to blocks from receivers instead of fighting through the contact.

    Tackling

    4/5

    Randall has the closing speed and quickness to trap ball-carriers in space. He is not a big player, but he is robust in his approach. He is a willing tackler against bigger bodies of tight ends and running backs.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    85/99

17. Aaron Colvin, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    65/75

    Aaron Colvin is a versatile defensive back with the size and athleticism to match up to different types of receivers. His precise feet allow him to track receivers through sharp breaks in their routes, while his awareness helps him locate the ball in the air. He also proved to be a dangerous blitzer in 2015, racking up four sacks and one forced fumble.

    Run Defense

    9/10

    To make the most out of his athleticism, Colvin combines quick reactions with a high motor. He can close to the line of scrimmage quickly to shoot gaps and disrupt outside runs. What stands out most with Colvin is his awareness. He quickly diagnoses where he needs to be on each play.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Colvin played 1,100 snaps last year, so it was inevitable he would have some bad tape as a tackler. He fails at the point of contact when he attempts to grasp ball-carriers rather than wrap them up to drag them down.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    86/99

16. Prince Amukamara, New York Giants

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    68/75

    On his day, Prince Amukamara can play as well as any cornerback in the league. He has the talent to line up in press coverage and mirror receivers with his feet while disrupting them with his hands. He can also drop off into a deeper alignment to break on the ball and read the initial stages of his receiver’s route to clamp down on space. All Amukamara needs to do is find his week-to-week consistency to become one of the best corners in the NFL.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Although a willing run defender, Amukamara shows off too much hesitancy when trying to diagnose what is happening in front of him and lacks the aggression to fight through contact. He is far from a liability as a run defender but needs to refine his craft.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Amukamara is an efficient tackler who relies on good technique and the ability to close on ball- carriers quickly in space. He doesn’t punish receivers and will concede ground to running backs in tight spaces.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    86/99

15. Charles Tillman, Carolina Panthers

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    69/75

    Charles Tillman felt the full benefits of playing for the Carolina Panthers and that phenomenal front seven. The Panthers were able to squash space for Tillman, allowing him to play a lot of zone coverage in tight spaces where he could rely on his instincts and ball skills to make impactful plays. He didn’t have the physical attributes of past seasons, but he didn’t need to in his role.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Tillman was still a smart run defender in 2015. He was quick to read running plays and understood when to set the edge as opposed to when to try to penetrate. He was less consistent getting off blocks than in previous years because he didn’t have the same physical explosiveness to work through blockers.

    Tackling

    4/5

    Having built a career on forcing fumbles with precise and powerful hits, Tillman has become less explosive and more technical as a tackler in his later years. He was still able to force two fumbles in 2015, but his primary value was in his efficiency in bringing ball-carriers to the ground.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    87/99

14. Adam Jones, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Coverage

    70/75

    Although it’s easier to see when he is returning punts, Adam Jones is one of the most impressive athletes playing cornerback in the NFL today. He matches quick feet and a short-area burst with exceptional fluidity. Jones can press all kinds of receivers at the line of scrimmage because of how easily he contorts his body and carries his weight, but he’s also a smart defender in zone coverages and when asked to play in off alignments.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Jones doesn’t offer the level of physicality or strength that is required to take on blocks from tight ends or offensive linemen. He relies on his intensity and quickness to shoot through gaps when opponents try to run toward his side of the field.

    Tackling

    2/5

    There is a recklessness in how Jones tries to bring ball-carriers to the ground. He isn’t big enough to land the types of hits he often tries to land, too often sliding off his opponents and allowing them to escape. 

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    87/99

13. Delvin Breaux, New Orleans Saints

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    68/75

    Delvin Breaux had a rough start to the season. He looked lost in his assignments and regularly struggled to locate the ball when asked to turn and run with receivers downfield. Breaux developed greater consistency and comfort in the Saints scheme over the second half of the year and began to make more positive plays. He has good size and decent feet. He primarily relied on his length to deflect the ball away from receivers at the catch point.

    Run Defense

    7/10

    There were moments when Breaux allowed his eyes to mislead him and pull him out of spaces he needed to fill, but for most of the year, he was a reliable run defender. He can use his size and strength to fend off block attempts while working his way toward the ball.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Breaux’s tackling technique is good, but he struggles to locate ball-carriers comfortably in space. He missed seven tackles on 958 snaps in 2015.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    87/99

12. Malcolm Butler, New England Patriots

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    68/75

    Talk of Malcolm Butler being as good as Darrelle Revis would be disrespectful to Revis. Even at this stage of his career, Revis is a different caliber of player. Belichick couldn’t rely on Butler to play in as much space as he could with Revis. Butler has decent athleticism with consistent footwork and the discipline Belichick craves in all of his defensive backs. His ball skills are good, too, but he is more prone to mental lapses than the cornerback he replaced.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Butler had a few disappointing days against the run. During those games, he lost sight of ball-carriers on outside runs by being too aggressive. For most of the season he was disciplined in his run fits, and while he wasn’t a block-shedding defensive back, he was capable of beating blockers to their spots in space.

    Tackling

    4/5

    Even though he played over 1,200 snaps, Butler only missed eight tackles in 2015 (playoffs included). That is outstanding efficiency that reflects his consistent technique and impressive upper-body strength.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    87/99

11. Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    70/75

    Despite his idiotic moments in the Super Bowl, Aqib Talib had a strong 2015 season. The cornerback was once again an imposing boundary cornerback who used his length to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage. Talib can turn and run with most receivers in the league without putting in much effort. What was more surprising from Talib’s season was how quick he was on his feet moving laterally. Chris Harris Jr. typically allows him to avoid matchups that expose him laterally. But on the occasions Harris didn’t in 2015, Talib played well.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    A larger defensive back who is willing to use his strength against blocks, Talib doesn’t shy away from contact often. Instead, he looks to engage it so he can attack the line of scrimmage and force himself into the backfield.

    Tackling

    3/5

    Talib rarely misses tackles. He missed just six on over 1,200 snaps (playoffs included). His main concern as a tackler doesn’t come in contact; it comes in his ability to locate and close on ball-carriers in greater space. This is a relatively minor issue for such a good defensive back.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    88/99

10. Ronald Darby, Buffalo Bills

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    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    70/75

    Ronald Darby didn’t have the impact plays that fellow rookie cornerback Marcus Peters had in 2015, but he was more consistent on a snap-by-snap basis. Darby showed off the speed that made him an appealing prospect at FSU while sticking to receivers in space with his quick and precise feet. He’s not a particularly long or strong cornerback but was able to match physicality with awareness at the catch point to disrupt the timing of his assignment’s routes.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Whenever you play for Rex Ryan, you will be expected to carry your weight as a run defender on the outside. Darby needs to show more intensity and strength to be more consistent in his attempts at detaching from wide receivers. He is a better run defender when advancing from deep rather than recognizing from a position closer to the line of scrimmage.

    Tackling

    4/5

    Darby’s value as a tackler comes in space. His athleticism to close on the more elusive receivers in the league stood out. Expecting him to be an impact hitter on a regular basis or someone who can punish running backs in the hole is unrealistic. His first priority is to function in space, and he excels there.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    88/99

9. Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    70/75

    It was an up-and-down rookie season for Marcus Peters. Even though he gave up more touchdowns (eight) than he would have wanted to, Peters’ coverage was less volatile than his numbers would suggest. The Chiefs trusted him in difficult assignments, asking him to play aggressive coverage in space against quality receivers. He needs to curtail his aggression slightly and show off more discipline in his feet to vault himself into a higher grade.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Peters has the size (6'0", 197 lbs) and length to work against tight ends and offensive tackles in run defense. He can come down and set the edge when there are no receivers to his side of the field. Where he needs to improve is with his physicality. Peters has the strength; he just needs to be less submissive against contact.

    Tackling

    4/5

    When you play in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme as a defensive back, you will be asked to function in space. Functioning in space is always difficult but especially so as a tackler. Peters missed 10 tackles on over 1,100 snaps last year. He has good length and solid technique once he locates ball-carriers; he just needs to show more control when closing on the ball.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    88/99

8. Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    71/75

    Josh Norman’s reputation surged to new heights in 2015, and his play followed. Norman is comfortably a top-10 cornerback—someone who excels in the Panthers’ zone-heavy defense. He has outstanding instincts with ball skills that allow him to take advantage of his positioning on the field. When he is tasked with playing man coverage, he can be aggressive because of his size, quick feet and aggressive mindset. Norman is an intimidating presence who deserves all the plaudits he is receiving now.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    The tenacity that Norman shows off in his personality and when the ball is in the air can also be seen on running plays. He can be borderline reckless at times, but he has the athleticism and size to redirect running backs by penetrating past blockers on the outside.

    Tackling

    3/5

    If Norman should focus on improving one thing during the offseason, it’s his tackling. Although he is a good athlete, he needs to get better at locating and closing on ball-carriers in space, focusing on wrapping them up and only going for the heavy hits when he has an advantageous position.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    88/99

7. Darrelle Revis, New York Jets

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    71/75

    It’s a young man’s position, and Darrelle Revis got his first taste of that in 2015, as he wasn’t the shutdown cornerback he was supposed to be during his first year back with the Jets. He’s still an exceptional talent, but he can no longer be expected to shut down the league's best receivers with no help. His feet are still quick, and he’s still one of the league's more fluid movers; he’s just slightly slower than he was previously. Revis still shows off outstanding ball skills and precise hand placement to remain one of the NFL's best cornerbacks.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Revis has never been an aggressive, intense run defender. He is comfortable in his ability to close on the ball quickly and read running concepts so he can play calmly. He is more likely to linger while engaged with a receiver before darting away from him at the right time rather than immediately fight through any attempt to block him in space.

    Tackling

    4/5

    On exactly 900 snaps, Revis missed just three tackles last year. He isn’t a hard hitter and never has been. He relies on his quickness in tight spaces and consistent technique to stop defenders in their tracks and take them to the ground.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    89/99

6. Darius Slay, Detroit Lions

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    Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    71/75

    Darius Slay is the most overlooked cornerback in the NFL. The Detroit Lions defensive back played outstanding football in 2015, combining good size with quick feet and awareness to excel in the different coverage assignments the Lions asked of him. Slay carries a fluid frame and relies on his ability to disrupt receivers through their routes and at the catch point. He understands how to use his length against receivers so that he can be physical without being so aggressive he will be flagged unnecessarily. Slay has 19 pass breakups over the past two seasons because of his awareness at the catch point.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Slay is a smooth cornerback. He naturally flips his hips to change direction in coverage. That trait also comes in handy when he is changing direction to transition from coverage to run support. He has the size and physicality to counteract blockers and bring down bigger ball-carriers, but there are question marks over his intensity closing to the line of scrimmage.

    Tackling

    5/5

    Slay is a form tackler who makes the most out of his length and smartly wraps the legs of bigger ball-carriers. He missed just four tackles on over 1,000 snaps last season. He has an ideal combination of size, strength and athleticism to be a great tackling cornerback.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    90/99

5. Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons

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    Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    71/75

    Desmond Trufant's emergence continued in 2015. He is already one of the NFL's best cornerbacks but continues to improve at just 25 years old. Trufant isn’t big. He relies on his quick feet and mirroring ability to stick with receivers through their routes downfield. When he lines up in off coverage, Trufant can anticipate routes and rely on his short-area burst to break on the ball. He can do anything you ask him to do; his only issues come when he has to try to catch the ball for interceptions.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Trufant has to beat blockers to their spots with his speed to be an effective run defender. He doesn’t possess the strength to offset his size against tight ends or offensive linemen, so the only blocks he beats consistently are those from wide receivers in space.

    Tackling

    5/5

    Trufant is an exceptional tackler. His quickness and short-area burst allow him to locate and close on receivers in space with relative ease. Although he can build up some momentum to deliver big hits, Trufant is primarily a form tackler who focuses on pulling opponents to the ground as quickly as he possibly can.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    90/99

4. Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    71/75

    Only Antonio Brown truly got the better of Chris Harris Jr. in 2015. The Denver Broncos cornerback has firmly established himself as one of the NFL's most talented, versatile cornerbacks. He has lightning-quick feet that allow him to play with great balance. He also possesses precise hands that control defenders in man coverage. Harris is a disciplined, deceptive zone defender who can bait quarterbacks or break on screen passes with great efficiency.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Harris’ ability to anticipate outside runs and screen plays always stands out. He is a smart cornerback who transitions quickly from playing coverage to closing on the ball in the run. He is more susceptible than other defensive backs at the point of contact because of his size.

    Tackling

    4/5

    Toward the end of the regular season and during the playoffs, Harris played through a shoulder injury. Despite that hindrance, he was still efficient as a tackler. He missed just seven tackles on over 1,300 snaps last season (playoffs included).

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    90/99

3. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks

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    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    75/75

    A disappointing season for Richard Sherman is a great season for everyone else. He struggled early in the season as the Seahawks defense as a whole was disjointed. Sherman has always been an aggressive cornerback who takes calculated risks. He wasn’t routinely exposed on those plays in 2015, even though there were one or two memorable moments against him. The veteran is still one of the NFL's best cornerbacks because of his ability to lean on receivers through their routes before finding the football in the air with his length.

    Run Defense

    6/10

    Few defensive backs in the NFL are as physically imposing as Sherman. When he arrives to set the edge on running plays, he does so with a thud. He isn’t satisfied with holding his position and just trying to fill a space; he aggressively attempts to beat his man and disrupt the design of each play. It’s an approach that can hurt him as much as it helps, but Sherman’s physical talent and intensity shift that balance in his favor.

    Tackling

    2/5

    Although Sherman has great length and uses it well at the catch point, he struggles to get the most out of it as a tackler. His size makes him a more impressive tackler in tight situations than in space against wide receivers.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    92/99

2. Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    75/75

    Patrick Peterson enjoyed the best season of his career in 2015. He has never been a bad cornerback, so any criticism of his coverage should always have been viewed in that context. The biggest difference for him in 2015 as opposed to previous years was his ability to hold up while playing more aggressive coverage. Peterson wasn’t easily bumped away by bigger receivers, instead showing off his impressive hand usage and quick feet to disrupt the timing of his assignment’s routes.

    Run Defense

    5/10

    Peterson is a reliable run defender. He will advance quickly to close on the line of scrimmage and set the edge even though he can’t hold up against bigger tight ends or linemen at the point of contact. Peterson is better suited to penetrate in space against outside runs and wide receiver screens.

    Tackling

    4/5

    Even though he was more physical in his man coverage in 2015, Peterson still wasn’t punishing ball-carriers at the catch point. He is a consistent tackler who relies on his length and technique to drag opponents to the ground.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    93/99

1. Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Coverage

    71/75

    Before tearing his ACL late in the year, Tyrann Mathieu was forcing his way into the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. It doesn’t matter how you tag him or where he lines up on the field, Mathieu will excel. He has quick feet to mirror slot receivers while possessing the physicality and ball skills to fight tight ends and bigger receivers for the ball when it’s in the air. Mathieu’s size (5'9") can be a problem, but he can do a lot of things in space that bigger defensive backs are incapable of doing.

    Run Defense

    10/10

    Ferocious. That’s the best word to describe Mathieu’s run defense. He doesn’t see any blocker as an obstacle but rather a minor inconvenience. Mathieu has strong, precise and active hands he uses in concert with his low center of gravity to get under blockers and work around them. His awareness and anticipation breaking down running plays allows him to break into the backfield before blockers can reach their spots on time.

    Tackling

    5/5

    Mathieu missed 12 tackles on 906 snaps last season. That is a byproduct of playing in space while attempting to be physical at the point of contact. Mathieu doesn’t just look to wrap up ball-carriers—he tries to accelerate through them and pressure their ball security with his physicality.

    Position Value

    9/9

    Overall

    95/99