Monday, May 6, 2013
AFC East cornerback rankings
By James Walker
The NFL offseason is just about over. Only a few tweaks will be made before teams begin training camp.
It's a good time to continue our AFC East rankings. Here are the top cornerbacks in the division:
No. 1: Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets
Analysis: You almost forgot how good Cromartie was when he played second-fiddle to Darrelle Revis in New York. But when Revis went down last year with a knee injury and missed 13 games, Cromartie shined as the Jets' No. 1 cornerback and made the Pro Bowl. New York had the NFL's second-rated pass defense with Cromartie leading the way. That was a major reason new Jets general manager John Idzik was fine with trading Revis this offseason. Cromartie is now the top corner in New York for the foreseeable future. He will team with young Jets corners Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner.
No. 2: Aqib Talib, New England Patriots
Analysis: The Patriots were fortunate to re-sign Talib. They desperately needed a No. 1 corner and was able to retain Talib on a team-friendly, one-year contract. Few can debate how important Talib is to New England's defense. He is by far the team's best man-to-man cover corner. When Talib was injured in the playoffs, the Patriots' defense fell apart. Talib has all the physical tools for the position, and it will be important for him to stay healthy this season.
No. 3: Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins
Analysis: Grimes is a tough player to rank. Do I take into account that he was a Pro Bowl cornerback in 2011? Or do I rank Grimes based on the fact he barely played last year and is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury. I feel comfortable ranking Grimes at No. 3. He still has a lot to prove that he can revert back to the form of two years ago. But when healthy, Grimes could be one of the top cornerbacks in the division. He fits what the Dolphins want to accomplish in the secondary and will be the team's No. 1 corner in 2013.
No. 4: Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo Bills
Analysis: Gilmore made some rookie mistakes, but overall he was solid in his first year. There is a lot to like about Gilmore. He’s young, competitive and fearless. Gilmore usually took on the opposing team's best receiver last year, despite lacking experience. He will be expected to be more consistent in Year 2. I also want to see more big plays from Gilmore, who had just one interception in 2012.