Pick Artist: The 10 Best Young NFL Cornerbacks
With all due respect to Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, and Asante Samuel, the NFL is currently blessed with an abundance of young cornerbacks.
Analyzing passes defended, tackles, and interceptions, these are the 10 best young cornerbacks with three years or less of professional experience.
10. Zackary Bowman, Chicago Bears
A relative unknown, Bowman played in all 16 of the Bears games in 2009.
Once a practice squad member, the former Nebraska Cornhusker excelled during his time on the field, and finished last season with 66 tackles, 10 passes defended, and six interceptions.
The 6'1" 193 pound athlete is expected to receive extensive play time in the Chicago secondary during the upcoming season.
9. Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons
Grimes posted an exceptional third year season in 2009.
A story of determination, the Shippensburg University (Pennsylvania) alum was signed as undrafted free agent by Atlanta in 2006. The 5'10" 181 pound cornerback spent 2006 playing in NFL Europe before returning to the Falcons for the final two games of the 2007 season.
In 2009, Grimes recorded 66 tackles, 13 passes defended, and six interceptions. It will be very interesting to see if Grimes can continue his strong play in the NFL.
8. Tramon Williams, Green Bay Packers
An undrafted free agent signing of Houston in 2006, Williams was released before the regular season, and didn't return to the NFL in 2007.
The 5'11" 191 pound cornerback is entering his third season on a NFL roster. The Louisiana Tech product earned a roster spot with Green Bay in 2007, and has played in every Packer game since.
In three seasons, Williams has recorded 129 tackles, 33 passes defended, and 10 interceptions. Considering he has been playing behind Al Harris, and Charles Woodson, the future for Williams could prove even more important.
7. Eric Wright, Cleveland Browns
A solid peformer, Wright is entering his fourth season in the Cleveland secondary.
A former USC Trojan, and UNLV Rebel, he was selected in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Playing in 14 games as a rookie, Wright posted 76 tackles, 11 passes defended, and one interception. The 5'10" 190 pound cornerback holds career totals of 207 tackles, 38 passes defended, and eight interceptions.
6. Mike Jenkins, Dallas Cowboys
Entering his third year in Dallas, Jenkins was solid during his sophomore campaign, earning himself a trip to the 2010 Pro Bowl.
A first round selection in 2008, Jenkins played 14 games as a rookie recording 19 tackles and one interception. Outplaying Orlando Scandrick early in the season, Jenkins finished the 2009 season with 49 tackles, 19 passes defended, and five interceptions.
At 5'10" 190 pounds the Cowboys are expecting big things from the South Florida alum in 2010.
5. Brandon Flowers, Kansas City Chiefs
Flowers was selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft after foregoing his final year of eligibility at Virginia Tech.
As a rookie he played opposite to veteran Patrick Surtain, and impressed with 69 tackles, 13 passes defended, and two interceptions. Somewhat undersized at 5'9" and 187 pounds, Flowers is considered the future for the Chiefs at the cornerback position. In 2009, he recorded 65 tackles, 23 passes defended, and five interceptions.
4. Aqib Talib, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Entering his third NFL season, Talib was drafted by Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. At 6'1" 205 pounds he has the size and speed (4.47 40-yard dash) to keep up with most wide receivers.
As a rookie, the former Jayhawk recorded 23 tackles, four interceptions and nine passes defended. Appearing in 15 games in 2009, Talib intercepted five passes, recorded 65 tackles, and defended 15 passes.
With a relatively inconsistent secondary, the Buccaneers need to see continued progression out of Talib in 2010.
3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Arizona Cardinals
Hailing from little know Tennessee State, Rodgers-Cromartie excelled in 2009 with six interceptions, 25 passes defended, and 50 tackles in the Cardinal secondary.
His play was instrumental along with safety Adrian Wilson during the Cardinal's 2008 Super Bowl run. The loss of Bryant McFadden via trade to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 will make Rodgers-Cromartie's play even more important.
2. Leon Hall, Cincinnati Bengals
After a solid four-year collegiate career at Michigan, Hall was drafted with the 17th pick in the 2007 NFL draft. A very underrated cover cornerback, the 5'11" 199 pound athlete contributed to the Bengals immediately during his rookie season.
Hall has played in every Cincinnati game since being drafted in 2007. As a rookie he recorded 68 tackles, and five interceptions. His three year professional career includes 214 tackles, 60 passes defended, 14 interceptions, and has been snubbed as a Pro Bowl selection all three years.
1. Darrelle Revis, New York Jets
Many fans and coaches consider Revis to be the best "shutdown" cornerback in the league today. In 2009, he led the NFL in passes defended at 31, intercepted six passes and still recorded 54 tackles on the season.
Referred to as "Revis Island" the 5'11" 198 pound Pittsburgh alum has a career total of 14 interceptions and 64 passes defended to his credit. In 2010, the Jets acquired former Charger Antonio Cromartie in what could become the best cornerback combination in the league today.
The 2010 Rookies
Kyle Wilson, New York Jets—The 5'10" 194 pound former Boise State Bronco has the luxury of teaming with Darrelle Revis and Antoinio Cromartie as a NFL rookie.
Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans—Jackson was selected with the 20th pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.. The 5'10" 197 pound cornerback chose to skip his senior season of eligibility at the University of Alabama.
Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns —Like Jackson, the former Florida Gator chose to forgo his senior season to play in the NFL. Haden will team with Eric Wright in the Cleveland secondary.
Patrick Robinson, New Orleans Saints—Robinson was selected with the late pick of the first round by New Orleans in 2010. At 5'11" 190 pounds the former Florida State product will look to add depth to the Saints secondary.
Devin McCourty, New England Patriots—McCourty is another young piece the Patriots have added to a rebuilt secondary. The 5'10" 193 pound cornerback from Rutgers recorded 80 tackles during his senior season.