In the same year that he became widely recognized as the NFL’s best cornerback, Jalen Ramsey is apparently gunning for another title as the game’s preeminent trash-talker.
Last season, Ramsey’s second as a professional, he was voted first team All-Pro and a Pro Bowl starter after racking up 63 tackles, four interceptions and 17 pass breakups. Ramsey and A.J. Bouye formed the league’s top cornerback tandem (Bouye was also a Pro Bowl starter), helping the Jacksonville Jaguars win the AFC South and advance to the AFC Championship game.
Ramsey was then voted No. 17 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking for 2018, a list ordered according to the opinions of NFL players. Ramsey was the highest-ranking defensive back on the list, and only five other defenders — DE/LB Khalil Mack, DE Calais Campbell, LB Luke Kuechly, LB Von Miller and DT Aaron Donald — finished higher. Continue reading
The parallels in the careers of superstar cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Aeneas Williams are adding up the longer Peterson remains with the Arizona Cardinals.
As Williams built the majority of his Hall of Fame career with the Cardinals, his individual accolades — six of his eight Pro Bowl nods, four of his five All-Pro nods — greatly outpaced his team’s success. The Cardinals made the playoffs just once in Williams’ 10 seasons with the squad, and won just one playoff game.
Peterson is entering his eighth season with the Cardinals. In that time he’s been a seven-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro. But the Cardinals have only made the playoffs twice in Peterson’s career, and have won just one playoff game. Continue reading
A.J. Bouye either played the contract-year game brilliantly, or his emergence as an elite NFL cornerback just happened to come at the perfect time.
After three years as a backup with the Houston Texans, Bouye shined in his first year as a starter in 2016, which was also his last year under contract. He parlayed that one impressive season into a lucrative free-agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars worth a reported $67.5 million over five years.
In his first season getting paid like a superstar, Bouye played like one. Continue reading
With this offseason’s expected but early retirement of strong safety Kam Chancellor, and the surprising release of cornerback Richard Sherman, suddenly free safety Earl Thomas was the last man standing from the Seattle Seahawks’ original “Legion of Boom” secondary.
The LOB was the heart, soul and soundtrack of the 2010s’ Seahawks squads that made five straight playoff appearances, two Super Bowl appearances, and won Super Bowl XLVIII win a rout of defensive dominance against the Denver Broncos.
The original crew that made the nickname famous was Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman and cornerback Brandon Browner, who left Seattle in 2014 but returned two years later, only to be waived during training camp. Continue reading
Harrison Smith always seems to be around the football, which is impressive considering that he often lines up farther away from it than anyone else on the field.
The Minnesota Vikings’ free safety notched 78 tackles (seven tackles-for-loss), 1.5 sacks, five interceptions and 12 pass breakups in the 2017 regular season, and recorded another 13 tackles and a sack during the team’s playoff run to the NFC Championship game.
Arguably the best player on arguably the NFL’s best defense, Smith was voted first team All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl for the third time in his first six pro seasons. Continue reading
Darius Slay’s breakout season happened a whole year after it was originally scheduled.
In 2016, the Detroit Lions signed Slay to a four-year, $48.1 million contract extension, making him one of the NFL’s highest-paid cornerbacks. He proceeded to have a good season, helping the Lions make the playoffs, but not great.
In 2017, Slay really showed why Detroit made the big investment in him. Continue reading
It’s not like the Los Angeles Rams were a bad defensive team last season.
They ranked 12th out of 32 NFL teams in fewest points allowed (20.6 ppg) and 13th in fewest passing yards per game (217.2 ypg), helping them win the NFC West division title with an 11-5 record.
But after losing 26-13 in their playoff opener to the Atlanta Falcons, the Rams attacked the offseason by turning a solid defense into an amazing one — at least on paper. Continue reading
The Minnesota Vikings have arguably the NFL’s best defense.
Last season, they led the league in fewest points allowed (15.8 ppg) and fewest yards allowed (275.9 ypg), and ranked second in fewest rushing yards allowed (83.6 ypg) and second in fewest passing yards allowed (192.4 ypg).
An argument within that argument that may be more even interesting is just who is the Vikings’ best defensive player.
On their way to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC title game, Minnesota had five defenders named to the Pro Bowl and three were All-Pro. Continue reading
After leading the NFL in interceptions in 2017 with seven picks, Casey Hayward entered the 2017 season vying for the unofficial title of the league’s best cornerback.
The Los Angeles Chargers star played well enough to stay in that competition, and moved up five spots to No. 59 on this year’s edition of the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking.
Hayward was named All-Pro second team along with Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye, behind first-teamers Jalen Ramsey of the Jaguars and Xavier Rhodes of the Vikings. There are a few other corners that get more mainstream attention than Hayward, such as Washington’s Josh Norman, San Francisco’s Richard Sherman, and the L.A. Rams duo of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Continue reading
Usually, it’s better for a pro athlete to play for a big-market or high-profile team if they seek the awards and accolades that come with individual excellence. The difference between being underrated and properly rated (or even overrated) can often come down to location and the logo on one’s uniform.
Defensive back Micah Hyde has gone against the grain in that regard.
After playing his first four NFL seasons with the ever-popular and perennially successful Green Bay Packers, Hyde signed with the Buffalo Bills last season and had a breakout campaign. Continue reading