Ask any cornerback in the NFL who he thinks is the top cornerback, and you’ll get the same answer: me. Every cornerback thinks he’s the best at the position. Is it bluster? Is it foolishness? Is it simply over-confidence? Actually, all of the above. The funny thing, though, is every one of them believes it.
That’s just the attitude it takes to play one of the loneliest positions on the field. The cornerback is often flanked out wide, facing down the opposing team’s best receiver. He may be all that stands between Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald and the end zone. This takes a special type of player, among an already special type of athlete.
So when Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson landed the NFL’s biggest cornerback contract, it’s no surprise Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman spoke up. Both are among the league’s top players at their position. And both think very highly of themselves. Here are cornerbacks who think they’re best in the NFL.
1. Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
Patrick Peterson just re-upped with the Cardinals for a reported $70 million over five years, with $48 million of that guaranteed. That last part is key, with so many NFL contracts back-loaded with non-guaranteed money players rarely ever see. Is Peterson worth it? The Cardinals think so. In a league of exceptional athletes, at a position with even more exceptional athletes, he excels in difficult circumstances. The Cardinals leave him to fend for himself in man-to-man coverage, shadowing the other team’s best receiver. And he rarely loses.
2. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
Richard Sherman definitely knows something about big contracts, having signed a four-year, $57 million deal, with $40 million guaranteed, that was until recently the biggest cornerback contract in the NFL. Outdone in the headlines, the outspoken Sherman still thinks of himself as the best. And he has a legitimate case. Sherman is a great fit in a stellar Seahawks defense, even if he isn’t always in man-to-man. Tasked as a play-maker, he’s tops in interceptions and passes defensed since coming into the league. Sherman is a smart, physical player, who isn’t shy about letting the world know what he thinks about himself. Remember “I’m the best corner in the game!”?
3. Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns
So the Browns have other players besides Johnny Manziel. Interesting… who knew? Some of those players — like cornerback Joe Haden — are among the best at their position. The Browns, knowing they have an elite cornerback, just sweetened his contract this offseason, to the tune of $67.5 million over five years. Haden, like Peterson, lines up against the NFL’s top receivers and harasses them all over the field. His relentless pursuit forces offenses off their game plans. And like Peterson and Sherman, Haden has a high opinion of himself. He told the NFL Network back in May, “I rank myself at one.”
4. Darrelle Revis, New England Patriots
Maybe you’ve heard of Revis Island. Many an NFL wide receiver has been marooned there for a game. And it’s a lonely feeling. Darrelle Revis has been one of the best shutdown corners in the game — if not the best — for years now. Injuries and playing in Tampa have hurt him recently, but he’ll probably reemerge this season in New England, where the Pats will line him up tight on receivers. He’s been impressive in camp so far, and obviously still thinks highly of himself. In a chat with NFL.com about Sherman, Revis revealed his thoughts on who is the NFL’s top cornerback, “I feel like I’m the best.”
5. Dee Milliner, New York Jets
Some players have a legitimate claim to being the best corner in the NFL. And some, well, some just talk like it. New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner weighed in recently with his biased opinion. As he told the New York Daily News, “I’m not going to say somebody that plays the same position is better than me … I’m the best.” Those are strong words from a player with 13 games under his belt. Milliner does have promise. The 2013 first-round pick out of Alabama may be the best… on the Jets. He managed three picks and 17 passes defended last season. He’ll get the chance to continue growing this season, mastering his technique through reps in training camp.
6. DeAngelo Hall, Washington Redskins
DeAngelo Hall has been around the league a little while. And like his counterparts, he’s very confident in his skills at the cornerback position. Going into his second decade in the NFL, though, Hall is a little bit more realistic about his standing. Just a little bit. As he said to the Washington Post, “I never said I was the best, but I definitely feel like I should be in the conversation.” And he has a point. Hall has the third most interceptions in the league over the past decade. He’s coming off a strong 2013 season and will once again be charged with handling the opposition’s best receiver for the Redskins.
Norm Elrod likes sports and other sanctioned forms of craziness.