By Tony Grossi
Extra Points …
Countdown to training camp (cont.): One of a series of lists leading up to the opening of Browns training camp next month. In our ongoing alternative to NFL Network’s Top 100 players, we offer our top 10 cornerbacks.
1. Darrelle Revis, Jets: The Eric Mangini draft pick in 2007 may be the only true shutdown corner in the NFL today. Each week he follows the opponent’s best receiver and he, quite literally, shuts him down.
2. Johnathan Joseph, Texans: One of the few NFL players of his era to sign a big contract in free agency and then turn in a true Pro Bowl season the next year with his new team. He, too, regularly is assigned the best receiver on the field.
3. Cortland Finnegan, Rams: An old-school player at his position – brash, treats his opponent like someone trying to steal his money. He also is one of the few corners willing to mix it up and tackle in the running game.
4. Lardarius Webb, Ravens: Had a tremendous post-season (three interceptions) after not allowing a touchdown all season, turning in five INTs and 20 pass breakups. A 2009 third-round gem from Nicholls State, Ozzie Newsome rewarded him with a $50 million contract.
5. Carlos Rogers, 49ers: Duplicated Joseph’s feat of making Pro Bowl with new team after scoring a big free agent contract. He is capable of playing at a high level when dropping inside to cover those darty slot receivers in the nickel.
6. Nnamdi Asomugha, Eagles: We’re giving him a pass after a sub-par year (for him) after changing teams and conferences. He is still a top 10 corner.
7. Joe Haden, Browns: His high number of pass breakups and exceptional tackling ability may merit a higher ranking. He will move up when he holds on to more balls and maintains his footing better. He is young with lots of room to grow.
8. Champ Bailey, Broncos: Entering his 14th season at age 34, he still is top 10 material. His durability is waning, understandably, with 11 missed games in four years since turning 30.
9. Charles Woodson, Packers: Like any great player, he accommodates for age and the natural erosion of athletic skills with smarts and moxie. He might move to safety at age 35, but he still made an impact at cornerback in his 14th year.
10. Brent Grimes, Falcons: An undrafted free agent from Shippensburg University in 2006 who has constantly improved. He had only one interception in 2011, but also only one penalty.
Next wave: Vontae Davis, Dolphins; Chris Gamble, Panthers; Jabari Greer, Saints; Brandon Browner, Seahawks.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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