NFL Pro Bowl: AFC and NFC QB Play Exposes Ugly Truth about Cornerbacks

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IJanuary 31, 2010


It doesn't really matter whether the AFC or NFC wins the Pro Bowl. It's an exhibition, first of all, and the game is being played without the NFL's best players, especially since the NFL brain dead, er, brain trust, decided to hold the game before the Super Bowl.

So unless you're a betting man, you probably don't have a horse in this race. You may have a preference based on which league your favorite team or player plays in, but that's about it.

But one thing it does remind us is just how vastly overrated the cornerback position is in the NFL.

Many of the best D-backs playing in the game are stars due, in large part, to playing on teams with a solid pass rush.

I don't care how good you are, there are few, if any, cornerbacks in the NFL that can stay with the top receivers for more than five seconds.

Not only that, but many of the interceptions these guys get during the season are the result of bad decisions by QBs under pressure.

Sure, having good hands can make the difference between a pick and a missed opportunity.

And yes, having the athletic ability to run in the open field can often make the difference between a pick run back for a TD versus one that does not.

Even so, good cornerback play needs a strong and effective pass rush. Without one, players can be made to look foolish.

In fact, one example is Nathan Vasher of the Bears. When healthy and with a team that has a pass rush, he can be good and I would take a flier on him if I was a contending team.

Maybe this is obvious to you B/R readers out there. Nevertheless, it occurred to me while watching Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers slice through the best of the AFC that teams probably overvalue the D-back position and instead should spend their money on guys that can pressure the QB.

The money should go to an edge rush specialist, who is a defensive end that can wreak havoc and get sacks.

Or, that money ought to go to a solid defensive tackle, who generates pressure inside and makes the QB scramble, which often leads to him making a mistake or getting sacked.

Either way, unless you have that pressure, it is likely your cornerbacks and even safeties are not as good or as bad as you perceive them.

If a good QB has all day to sit in the pocket, he will pick apart the defense no matter how good your D-backs are. The great ones, like Peyton Manning, may be able to do that anyway, but most QBs need some time to be effective.

Yes, cornerbacks matter, but your favorite team would be wise to concentrate its draft picks, trades, and free agent signings on the line and end positions first, before it upgrade the Dd-backs.

Otherwise, a failure to do so will expose your cornerbacks and your team's pass defense will suffer. And when your team inevitably gets rid of them in hopes that their replacements will fare better and those departed cornerbacks end up on a team with a good pass rush and do well, you may end up wondering how that happened?

Hopefully your team will not make that mistake this offseason.