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Saturday, April 20, 2013
West CB ranks: 'Clearly' best in the NFL

By Mike Sando

Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings, Ken Lucas, Josh Wilson and Roy Lewis were the Seattle Seahawks' cornerbacks when Pete Carroll arrived as head coach for the 2010 season.

That group consisted of two first-round picks, two second-rounders and an undrafted free agent. It should have been stellar, but it was not.

The team has become exponentially better at the position without investing much in its personnel. Richard Sherman was a fifth-round pick. Brandon Browner was playing in the CFL. The new slot corner, Antoine Winfield, signed for one year and $2 million.

Consider Matt Williamson impressed. Williamson, who scouts the NFL for ESPN.com, listed Seattle's corners No. 1 in the NFC West -- and beyond -- as part of his ongoing pre-draft positional rankings for division teams.

Williamson: Seattle to me has the best set of corners in the league, clearly. And then Winfield might be the best slot corner in the league. It's almost unfair.

Sando: Carroll coached the secondary in his early NFL days. He and general manager John Schneider have put together the best one in the NFL, stacked at safety and corner alike. I think the entire division is pretty strong at corner overall.

Williamson: These next three teams are close. St. Louis has the best starters of the remaining three teams. Arizona clearly has the best single starter of the remaining three in Patrick Peterson. The Niners have a lot of guys and who knows what they get out of Nnamdi Asomugha.

Sando: I don't think the 49ers are all that worried about their corner situation even though the pass defense faltered late last season.

Williamson: Nobody complalins about their corners when Justin Smith is healthy. We like to nitpick this San Francisco defense when there is nothing wrong with it. The corners are still in the top 15 position groups in the league.

Sando: I'd think every team in the NFC West could say that.

Williamson: Agreed. Being fourth in this division isn’t something to hang your head about. I could make a strong argument for San Francisco as second to Seattle. I like the Rams' starters, but Janoris Jenkins could be overrated at this point based on some of the big plays he has made. People are picking on him.

Sando: Trumaine Johnson was a nice addition in St. Louis as well, if he can stay out of trouble. And we haven't even mentioned Cortland Finnegan. I'm curious, what did you think of the Antoine Cason addition in Arizona?

Williamson: He struggled in San Diego last season. The Chargers were so dysfuntional. I think Cason has first-round skills. He is a quality player who is never going to be a Pro Bowler. He is above average. He is a middle-of-the-road to an above-average starter.

Sando: The Cardinals shuffled most of their secondary. That group will be interesting to watch. I still think Peterson is just getting started and can become the best corner in the league. For now, though, Sherman might legitimately claim that title.