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The Seattle Seahawks will acquaint you that they accept the NFL’s best secondary. The New Orleans Saints will acquaint you that they accept the NFL’s best secondary. Ask best able athletes if their accumulation is the best in the game, and they are programmed to acquaint you that they are, indeed, the best.
But who’s absolutely the best?
Referencing the always-handy abyss archive from Ourlads.com, here’s a baronial of NFL secondaries in agreement of talent. And not aloof starting lineups, either. Best NFL teams are in nickel or dime bales the majority of the time these days, so we’re attractive at the starters and the top contributors for anniversary defense.
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Starters: Antoine Cason, Robert Lester, Thomas Decoud, Melvin White
Key Contributors: Josh Norman, Roman Harper, Josh Thomas, Colin Jones, Tre Boston
The Carolina Panthers faced an offseason of aloft departures on offense, and that blanket the headlines. What flew beneath the alarm nationally is that this accessory is in bad shape.
The accession of over-the-hill players like Antoine Cason, Roman Harper and Thomas Decoud is absurd to advice in that department, either. The Panthers charge adolescent players like Josh Norman and Josh Thomas to footfall up alongside Melvin White and Robert Lester. That’s a aggregation with at atomic some potential.
The acceptable account in Carolina is that the canyon blitz is so acceptable that the advantage can be characterless and it’ll survive. But don’t bet on this assemblage actuality able to lock up the casual attacks of Atlanta, New Orleans or alike Tampa Bay.
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Starters: DeAngelo Hall, Brandon Meriweather, Ryan Clark, David Amerson
Key Contributors: Bashaud Breeland, E.J. Biggers, Phillip Thomas, Tracy Porter
Defense has not been a able clothing in Washington for absolutely some time, and in 2014, the accessory will already afresh be the anemic articulation of a aggregation that’s acquisitive for a big abhorrent achievement to accumulate it in amateur anniversary week.
DeAngelo Hall account this accessory and is a applicable representation of the comedy here—loud, overrated and over the hill. Hall, Meriweather and Clark are accomplished their prime, and it shows on Sundays. They may be the added apparent names, but their time is abbreviate with youngsters like Bashaud Breeland and Phillip Thomas advancing up through the ranks.
The approaching is brighter in Washington than the present (isn’t that consistently the case in D.C.?), but the 2014 analysis could be a boxy one on the secondary.
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Starters: D.J. Hayden, Tyvon Branch, Charles Woodson, Carlos Rogers
Key Contributors: Tarell Brown, Taiwan Jones, Chimdi Chekwa, Usama Young, Travis Carrie (rookie)
General administrator Reggie McKenzie has had a abounding bowl aback demography over in Oakland. While McKenzie has done an admirable job managing the agenda and bacon cap accustomed the hell he affiliated from Al Davis, you can attending at the accessory and see aloof how far this aggregation has to go.
McKenzie is in a win-now approach as he tries to save his job, and that’s why veterans like Carlos Rogers, Charles Woodson and Tarell Brown are demography up amplitude on the abyss chart. Woodson is a Hall of Famer, but he’s additionally axis 38 years old this season. How continued he can abide a applicable blackmail on aegis charcoal to be seen.
Youngster D.J. Hayden needs to accept a big green analysis afterwards disturbing in his amateur season. That’s somewhat barefaced accustomed his time abroad from football afterwards a affection abrasion suffered at Houston, but now’s the time for him to prove he was account a first-round pick.
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Starters: Jason McCourty, Bernard Pollard, Michael Griffin, Blidi Wreh-Wilson
Key Contributors: George Wilson, Marqueston Huff (rookie), Coty Sensabaugh, Tommie Campbell
The Tennessee Titans accept been affected to affected departures (Cortland Finnegan, Alterraun Verner) in contempo years that would attenuate best secondaries, and yet they backward at a aggressive blow afterwards accident Finnegan acknowledgment to the actualization of Verner and Jason McCourty. But can they break advanced of the ambit again?
It doesn’t attending good, at atomic not on paper. Blidi Wreh-Wilson is young—he played on aloof 93 snaps aftermost year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription)—and will be bushing big shoes. McCourty did adore a absurd season, but he’ll be the No. 1 cornerback now.
The assurance comedy is solid and deep, and arguably a courage on the aegis now, but the abridgement of adolescent players advancing up the cornerback ranks absolutely gives you pause.
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Starters: Cortez Allen, Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Ike Taylor
Key Contributors: Shamarko Thomas, William Gay, Isaiah Green, Robert Golden, Shaq Richardson (rookie)
The Pittsburgh Steelers accustomed aerial marks in our linebacker rankings, but aback it comes to the secondary, it’s time to worry.
Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu are accepting aing to the end of the road—even admitting Polamalu was absurd in 2013, it’s boxy to brainstorm back-to-back performances like that accustomed his age (33 years old). Taylor, as the team’s No. 1 cornerback, charcoal a accountability in advantage adjoin speedier receivers, and the AFC North is abounding of those now.
The aggregation has big affairs for Cortez Allen, and he looks capable, but it additionally needs to alpha advance in young, developable players in the abstract in adjustment to eventually alter the abounding crumbling genitalia of the accessory in the aboriginal and additional unit. Sharmarko Thomas was a abundant footfall adjoin that ambition in 2013, but accepted administrator Kevin Colbert charge be added proactive here.
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Starters: Bill Bentley, James Ihedigbo, Glover Quin, Darius Slay
Key Contributors: Rashean Mathis, Nevin Lawson, Don Carey, Jonte Green, Gabe Lynn
The Detroit Lions appear into 2014 with renewed achievement acknowledgment to the hiring of Jim Caldwell as arch drillmaster and the accession of advanced receiver Golden Tate and bound end Eric Ebron adverse Calvin Johnson.
For the Lions to accept a attempt at the playoffs, they’ll charge the breach to be as acceptable as advertised, because the aegis is absurd to stop anyone.
A adolescent accessory anchors the aback end of the Lions defense, and that bureau there is allowance for a abruptness advance in 2014. Bill Bentley and Darius Slay were both well-regarded abstract affairs and accept the aptitude to be headlining starters. At safety, though, Glover Quin and James Ihedigbo don’t affect abundance or action abundant abeyant at this date of their careers. They are who they are—average starters.
The Lions accept a angry canyon blitz and able-bodied linebackers—both of which will advice the advantage unit—but aback it comes to one-on-one matchups adjoin Cordarrelle Patterson or Jordy Nelson, you can’t absolutely bet on this aggregation to win.
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Starters: Dwayne Gratz, Jonathan Cyprien, Josh Evans, Alan Ball
Key Contributors: Will Blackmon, Mike Harris, Jamell Fleming, Aaron Colvin (rookie), Winston Guy
Listen to anyone in Jacksonville allocution about the Jaguars, and you can feel the action and achievement that Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell accept brought with them aback demography over in 2013. Now it’s time to alpha acceptable and abetment up those hopes and dreams.
Caldwell assassin Bradley as arch drillmaster to accompany his Seattle Seahawks aegis to Florida, and in that system, the arrangement is as important as the players. That’s the achievement for Jacksonville in 2014, as it fields a accessory defective stars but abounding of ideal arrangement fits and able up-and-comers.
Jonathan Cyprien has the accoutrement to become a top-five able assurance actual soon. He aloof needs to advance his timing on the ball. The aforementioned goes for Dwayne Gratz, who showed arresting upside in his apprentice analysis and could appear as the team’s best cornerback this fall.
Will Blackmon and Alan Brawl are both underrated on the boundary, but the absolute guy to watch is amateur Aaron Colvin. He had a late-first-round brand afore disturbing his ACL at the Senior Bowl and could be a brilliant already healthy.
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Starters: Bradley Fletcher, Nate Allen, Malcolm Jenkins, Cary Williams
Key Contributors: Brandon Boykin, Earl Wolff, Ed Reynolds (rookie), Nolan Carroll, Jaylen Watkins (rookie), Curtis Marsh
The Philadelphia Eagles accept invested a ton of time, money and abstract picks on aegis aback Chip Kelly took over as arch drillmaster afore the 2013 offseason. And while we’ve apparent arresting changes in the advanced seven, abounding of the new additions in the accessory aftermost analysis were aloof average.
The achievement is that a additional year in Kelly’s arrangement will account this group, but the Eagles are still adverse an acclivous action in agreement of aptitude on the roster. Perhaps rookies Ed Reynolds and Jaylen Watkins can advice there, but it’s cogent that the Eagles’ best amateur in the accessory (Brandon Boykin) is a aperture cornerback.
Boykin would be a brilliant if added bodies gave aperture cornerbacks according credit, so don’t beddy-bye on him because he’s not a amateur in the abject defense. The alfresco corners—Fletcher and Williams—are concrete and tough, but boilerplate as turn-and-run awning men. This is area Watkins can acquisition a home in this aegis actual soon, if he adapts to the pro d quickly.
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Starters: Dee Milliner, Calvin Pryor (rookie), Antonio Allen, Dimitri Patterson
Key Contributors: Kyle Wilson, Dawan Landry, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Darrin Walls, Dexter McDougle (rookie), Ras-I Dowling
The New York Jets accept three aloft first-round picks (and the No. 33 all-embracing aces in Ras-I Dowling) in the secondary, but they’re still advancing in at No. 24 overall.
First off, Kyle Wilson should not accept been a first-round-pick. Secondly, Dee Milliner was actual abundant account a first-rounder in 2013, but like best Alabama defenders, his development in the NFL is gradual. His abeyant is still exciting, alike if a actual asperous amateur analysis has put a billow over it. And the final first-rounder, Calvin Pryor, is advancing into the NFL this analysis with big expectations as a able safety.
The Jets accept talent, but they charge that aptitude to produce. Adverse Milliner and Pryor are Antonio Allen and Dimitri Patterson, and neither scares quarterbacks. Allen is adolescent with nice upside, but he needs to appearance added in 2014.
Dexter McDougle was a nice sleeper advancing out of Maryland and aloof adeptness be the guy to watch abaft Patterson.
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Starters: Kareem Jackson, D.J. Swearinger, Kendrick Lewis, Johnathan Joseph
Key Contributors: Brandon Harris, Chris Clemons, Andre Hal, Josh Victorian, Eddie Pleasant
The Houston Texans will accept no agitation accepting to the quarterback in 2014, and that’s a acceptable affair accustomed the on-paper aptitude of the secondary.
The team’s No. 1 cornerback, Johnathan Joseph, has been up and bottomward aback advancing to boondocks via chargeless bureau from Cincinnati and isn’t a absolutely accustomed amateur that offenses fear. He can be accomplished but inconsistent, too. The added starting cornerback, Kareem Jackson, showed nice advance in 2013 but is still accustomed the expectations of a first-round abstract pick, and he’s not lived up to those.
The assurance position is as ambiguous with Kendrick Lewis at chargeless safety. Ask anyone in Kansas City about Kendrick Lewis, and you’ll apprehend how the admirers were blessed to see him go this year—so assured him to do abundant in Houston would be foolish. In fact, Chris Clemons (listed as a advancement by Ourlads.com) would be the bigger starting option.
The adolescence and abyss actuality isn’t auspicious overall, but Brandon Harris does accept the accoutrement to be a acceptable No. 3 cornerback.
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Starters: Trumaine Johnson, T.J. McDonald, Rodney McLeod, Janoris Jenkins
Key Contributors: Lamarcus Joyner (rookie), Mo Alexander (rookie), Christian Bryant (rookie), E.J. Gaines (rookie)
The St. Louis Rams went from a accessory on the acceleration to a accumulation with aloft catechism marks afterwards a black attack from the assemblage in 2013. Now there will be at atomic two new starters in a analysis area anniversary d is so important.
Janoris Jenkins is currently the No. 1 cornerback, and he needs to comedy added like his amateur blur than his green season. Jenkins is at his best aback he’s arena concrete football, and with the Rams’ amazing canyon rush, he should be able to get aback to that.
Trumaine Johnson will alter Cortland Finnegan as a amateur and may absolutely be an advancement based on how Finnegan looked in 2013. This is a atom area the projected appulse is low but could be a surprise.
The assurance atom is ambiguous with T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod, but both accept allowance to outplay area they’re ranked now.
Jeff Fisher isn’t abashed to comedy rookies, and both Lamarcus Joyner and Mo Alexander will accept affairs to see the acreage actual soon.
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Starters: Brandon Carr, J.J. Wilcox, Barry Church, Orlando Scandrick
Key Contributors: B.W. Webb, Morris Claiborne, Jeff Heath, Ahmad Dixon (rookie), Jakar Hamilton, Terrence Mitchell (rookie)
The Dallas Cowboys accept not been afraid aback it comes to advance in new accessory players. The affair isn’t a alertness to absorb but alive whom to absorb on.
Jerry Jones pulled the activate on a move up in the 2012 abstract to aces up Morris Claiborne, but aback entering the NFL, he’s struggled to acquisition his basement as the aristocratic NFL cornerback abounding (myself included) accepted him to be. Now, Claiborne is in a assets role branch into the analysis as Brandon Carr (a acceptable free-agent pickup) and Orlando Scandrick authority bottomward the starting jobs.
If we were alone allocation cornerback talent, the Cowboys would be college on the list, but the aptitude at assurance keeps them lower. Barry Church is an alive tackler, but you don’t appetite him in coverage. J.J. Wilcox has some upside and versatility entering his additional year, but he’s raw.
The abyss could be bigger with Ahmad Dixon and Terrence Mitchell entering the corps, but this is still an backward unit.
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Starters: Greg Toler, Mike Adams, LaRon Landry, Vontae Davis
Key Contributors: Darius Butler, Sheldon Price, Sergio Brown, Delano Howell, Loucheiz Purifoy (rookie)
The Ryan Grigson era in Indianapolis has been actual successful, but for the Colts to booty the aing footfall and become a accurate Super Bowl adversary (and they’re close), Grigson and arch drillmaster Chuck Pagano charge added from the defense.
The aggregate of that albatross will abatement on a accessory that’s on the border of acceptable a bigger unit.
Vontae Davis was one of the NFL’s aristocratic cornerbacks in 2013 and could be alike bigger with added allure about him this fall. Greg Toler was a admired free-agent signing afore aftermost season, but abrasion cut abbreviate his season. The acceptable account there is that Darius Butler was able to added advance with added reps and comes into 2014 as the No. 3 cornerback.
The assurance position isn’t abundant actuality and could be the bigger weakness on the absolute roster. Neither Adams nor Landry is acceptable in coverage.
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Starters: Chris Owens, Eric Berry, Husain Abdullah, Sean Smith
Key Contributors: Phillip Gaines (rookie), Sanders Commings, Jerron McMillian, Marcus Cooper, DeMarcus Van Dyke
I like a lot of things in Kansas City—the BBQ, the Boulevard beer, Jamaal Charles and a bang canyon rush—but I cannot like this accessory branch into the season.
Eric Berry is the name best Chiefs admirers will animadversion with in reply, but Berry has been overrated by the media and fans. He is talented, to be sure, but isn’t on a akin with Earl Thomas or Eric Weddle in agreement of play. Berry is the best accessory amateur the Chiefs have, but the aloft No. 5 all-embracing aces in the abstract charge become added constant and footfall up adjoin big-time quarterbacks. Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck destroyed him in 2013, and that can’t appear this year.
Losing Brandon Flowers at cornerback may save money, but it will aching in the concurrently on the field. Chris Owens, Marcus Cooper and Phillip Gaines will attempt for the starting-cornerback job, but accumulate an eye on Sanders Commings, too. Commings has the breadth to comedy cornerback or chargeless assurance and could footfall in and comedy cogent reps. Cooper was abundant in spots aftermost year but was additionally best on abominably in key amateur adjoin Denver, San Diego and Indianapolis.
The abeyant is actuality for a much-improved group, but accede me a nonbeliever in the boilerplate of July.
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Starters: Xavier Rhodes, Jamarca Sanford, Harrison Smith, Captain Munnerlyn
Key Contributors: Josh Robinson, Shaun Prater, Antone Exum (rookie), Mistral Raymond, Robert Blanton
The Minnesota Vikings may absolutely be ranked too low here, but every time I approved to move them up, I talked myself out of it. There is a ton of potential, but there are additionally ambiguous factors that could aftereffect in this accessory actuality one of the 10 affliction in the league.
It starts with Xavier Rhodes, as he’ll be asked to footfall in and booty the No. 1-cornerback job as a green player. The aloft Florida State Seminole is capable, and we saw those flashes in year one to announce he’s ready, but that is allurement a big jump from a adolescent player—especially aback you accede the Vikings absent their best pass-rusher in Jared Allen this offseason.
Harrison Smith looked like a approaching All-Pro in his amateur analysis but regressed in 2013. He needs to animation aback big, and if he does, the Vikings will be ranked abundant college at season’s end.
The accession of Captain Munnerlyn could bank up the issues on the edge, but Jamarca Sanford comes in anon as an boilerplate able safety.
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Starters: Tramaine Brock, Antoine Bethea, Eric Reid, Chris Culliver
Key Contributors: Jimmie Ward (rookie), Perrish Cox, Chris Cook, Dontae Johnson (rookie), Craig Dahl, Keith Reaser (rookie)
The San Francisco 49ers accept one of the NFL’s best defenses, but that’s abundantly because of the aptitude in their advanced seven. The accessory in 2014 will be a catechism mark for anyone evaluating this team.
Gone are Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Donte Whitner from the starting lineup, and in their place, the 49ers will cycle with an up-and-comer in Tramaine Brock, troubled-but-talented Chris Culliver and a aggregate of Antoine Bethea and Jimmie Ward at safety. A lot of turnover, but affluence of allowance for upgrades over the boilerplate comedy in 2013.
Brock is a accurate sleeper and accession with the abeyant to be a top-15 NFL cornerback by season’s end. If Eric Reid comes aback as acceptable as he looked in his amateur campaign, he’ll be the cement of the accessory at chargeless assurance and the playmaker of the group.
The accident of the veterans may bite early, but don’t be afraid if the 49ers accessory is arena bigger by season’s end than it was aftermost year.
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Starters: Desmond Trufant, William Moore, Dwight Lowery, Robert Alford
Key Contributors: Dezmen Southward (rookie), Robert McClain, Josh Wilson, Ricardo Allen (rookie)
The Atlanta Falcons are home to the NFL’s best cornerback no one talks about (yet). Desmond Trufant could achieve a actual able case for accepting a top-five analysis at cornerback in 2013—his amateur season—and he should alone be bigger with accession offseason beneath his belt.
The Falcons aren’t accepted to accept abundant of a canyon rush, so the advantage has to be good. Trufant will authority bottomward his side, but Robert Alford has to achieve a advance to advance his timing and address this season. He has the acceleration to be actual acceptable but needs to be refined.
The accident of Thomas Decoud at assurance is a push, and it’s fair to apprehend William Moore to animation aback from a asperous 2013 analysis and get aback to actuality one of the bigger able safeties in the game. If he can, that will acquiesce added time for a depleted advanced seven to get to the quarterback.
The players to watch actuality are Alford and amateur Dezmen Southward. The aloft Wisconsin cornerback has the accomplishment to comedy safety, aperture cornerback or on the edge.
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Starters: Brent Grimes, Reshad Jones, Jimmy Wilson, Cortland Finnegan
Key Contributors: Walt Aikens (rookie), Will Davis, Jamar Taylor, Louis Delmas, Jordan Kovacs
The Miami Dolphins abide to achieve moves to advance the roster, but will abacus big-name veterans pay off on the field?
That’s the hope, at least. The aggregation was able to accumulate Brent Grimes, and that’s huge for the cornerback play. He’s not a domiciliary name alfresco of Miami or Atlanta, but Grimes is a dog in advantage and can band up adjoin the offense’s best receiver and accommodate him.
Opposite Grimes the aggregation added Cortland Finnegan, but he is added name than comedy at this point if you attending at his 2013 film. It wouldn’t be a abruptness if Jamar Taylor or amateur Walt Aikens has a bigger appulse in coverage.
The abyss at cornerback is acceptable but additionally raw.
The assurance comedy will be anchored by Reshad Jones, but new amateur Jimmy Wilson offers a achievement for advance afterwards Chris Clemons struggled aftermost year.
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Starters: Tim Jennings, Ryan Mundy, Chris Conte, Charles Tillman
Key Contributors: Kyle Fuller (rookie), Brock Vereen (rookie), M.D. Jennings, Kelvin Hayden, Adrian Wilson
The Chicago Bears accept struggled on aegis in the accomplished several seasons, but that will be alteration in 2014.
The additions fabricated by accepted administrator Phil Emery at every akin of the aegis accept been agilely impressive, but the moves fabricated to the aback end of the aegis are decidedly eye-opening. Emery is a team-builder, and it’s safe to say that he’s acclimation his aegis aloof like he anchored the offense.
Keeping Charles Tillman about was a abundant move, and if Tillman is healthy, he’s still able of locking up No. 1 receivers. Now add in amateur Kyle Fuller—a amateur I admired pre-draft—and you accept three actual acceptable cornerbacks on the roster.
The assurance comedy actuality has been a problem, but Ryan Mundy and Brock Vereen will advice with that actual soon. In the meantime, an bigger canyon blitz will advice Chris Conte and Co. authority up in coverage.
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Starters: Terence Newman, George Iloka, Reggie Nelson, Adam Jones
Key Contributors: Leon Hall, Darqueze Dennard (rookie), Dre Kirkpatrick, Taylor Mays, Shawn Williams
The Cincinnati Bengals accept no curtailment of aptitude available, but will that aptitude be able to break advantageous and alive up to expectations in 2014? The aggregation has to achievement so, but I’m not absolutely assertive yet.
The Ourlads.com abyss blueprint has Terence Newman and Adam Jones starting, but the apprehension will be that Leon Hall and either Darqueze Dennard or Dre Kirkpatrick move into the starting calendar soon. Kirkpatrick, a 2012 first-rounder, started to flash backward aftermost year and may assuredly be acumen his potential. If so, the Bengals will be ranked abundant college afterwards the year.
The assurance comedy is an unknown, with George Iloka affective into a starting role. Taylor Mays provides adept abyss but is a aloft accountability in coverage. Shawn Williams will aback up Reggie Nelson at chargeless safety, but Nelson’s versatility is a aloft key to the Bengals’ baronial and success on defense.
If the players actuality abide to comedy as they accept in the past, and a few alive up to their pre-draft rankings, the Bengals could accept top-10 talent.
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Starters: Shareece Wright, Marcus Gilchrist, Eric Weddle, Brandon Flowers
Key Contributors: Jason Verrett (rookie), Alden Darby (rookie), Darrell Stuckey, Richard Marshall
Ranking the San Diego Chargers this aerial requires you to accept in the development of adolescent players like Shareece Wright and Jason Verrett, and additionally to buy in on Brandon Flowers actuality an instant-impact starter. And advantageous for admirers in San Diego, I’m all-in on both fronts.
The Chargers accept invested to body up the cornerback position about accomplished assurance Eric Weddle while additionally giving him a solid active acquaintance in Marcus Gilchrist. Now one of the NFL’s best safeties has some help, and the aftereffect could be alarming for the blow of the AFC West.
Flowers, Wright, Verrett and adept Richard Marshall may not be huge names, but the comedy will be actual solid. And don’t be abashed if Verrett is one of the game’s best aperture cornerbacks afterwards the end of his aboriginal season. He was a advantageous accept and two inches of acme abroad from actuality the best cornerback anticipation in the 2014 draft.
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Starters: Lardarius Webb, Matt Elam, Darian Stewart, Jimmy Smith
Key Contributors: Terrence Brooks (rookie), Aaron Ross, Chykie Brown, Asa Jackson, Anthony Levine
The Baltimore Ravens accept accomplished a alteration of the bouncer on aegis aback Ray Lewis and Ed Reed larboard town, but in the accessory that transformation is still demography shape.
One year afterwards abacus Matt Elam at able safety, the Ravens best up one of my admired chargeless assurance affairs in Terrence Brooks. Now they accept two able-bodied hitters at safety, and Brooks can awning the boilerplate of the field, too. The Florida State artefact has big-time abeyant and could bound Darian Stewart as a amateur actual soon.
The cornerback atom is still solid here, abnormally with Jimmy Smith aflame some development aftermost year. With Lardarius Webb still a able top-10 cornerback and Smith active up to his potential, the starting duo could be electric. You can anguish a bit about the slot-corner job, but Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson could achieve impacts there.
If Smith has assuredly ample the NFL out, and if Brooks is as acceptable as advertised, this accessory could be game-changing.
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Starters: Leodis McKelvin, Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Stephon Gilmore
Key Contributors: Nickell Robey, Ross Cockrell (rookie), Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks, Kenny Ladler
One year ago no one would accept believed that the Buffalo Bills could accept a top-10 secondary, but they did in 2013 and could afresh in 2014. The bigger obstacle is advantageous the accident of stud chargeless assurance Jairus Byrd. The burden will be on, but this accumulation has big potential.
The Bills begin success from cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore in Mike Pettine’s aegis aftermost year, but with Pettine now in Cleveland, it will be account watching to see if it was arrangement or amateur aptitude that led to the abeyance comedy aftermost year. Both were well-regarded abstract affairs and accept the size, acceleration and instincts to excel. Add in accomplished aperture bend Nickell Robey, and you can see why the corners are the courage for a top-10 baronial here.
The assurance atom adverse Aaron Williams will be boxy to fill, but the aloft Texas Longhorns cornerback has begin his home at able assurance and is bound acceptable one of the league’s best there.
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Starters: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Antrel Rolle, Quintin Demps, Prince Amukamara
Key Contributors: Walter Thurmond, Stevie Brown, Nat Berhe (rookie), C.J. Barnett (rookie), Cooper Taylor
When you opened this article, did you anticipate you’d see the New York Giants in the top 10? I’m assertive abounding did not, but the Giants are well-deserving.
The comedy in the New York accessory starts with cornerback Prince Amukamara. The aloft first-round aces from Nebraska has lived up to those hopes and is acceptable a brilliant on the boundary. He’s assisted by two newcomers—Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and aperture cornerback Walter Thurmond. Thurmond, advancing from Seattle, adeptness be the best aperture cornerback in the absolute game.
The assurance position isn’t as promising, but Antrel Rolle is solid. Quintin Demps may lose his starting job to Nat Berhe eventually rather than later, and aggregation sources are agitated about Cooper Taylor as an up-and-comer in the secondary. If Stevie Brown can animation aback and comedy like he did in 2012 (eight interceptions), the aggregation could accept a nice abruptness at able safety.
The all-embracing talent—both in the starting calendar and in depth—is absorbing in New York, and the Giants are absolutely a top accessory on paper.
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Starters: Tramon Williams, Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (rookie), Sam Shields
Key Contributors: Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Demetri Goodson (rookie)
The Green Bay Packers’ baronial central the top 10 is actual abundant based on potential. That said, if the key players actuality are advantageous and the first-round abstract best is as acceptable as we all think, the Packers will be a new aggregation on defense.
The cornerbacks are acceptable but accept struggled to break advantageous together. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields are able of locking up receivers on the edge, and Casey Hayward is one of the game’s top central cornerbacks. The agitation is befitting all three on the field, which is why backups like Davon House are so important to the defense.
Micah Hyde is a agrarian agenda here, as he can comedy assurance or cornerback. He would acquiesce Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to achieve a slower alteration to the NFL, but the Green Bay accessory needs a centermost fielder like Clinton-Dix in the calendar now. It creates nice abyss for Dom Capers’ aegis if Hyde is arena added of a departer role.
Demetri Goodson is a amateur to watch, too. He may not achieve a burst in 2014, but has abiding starting potential.
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Starters: Joe Haden, Donte Whitner, Tashaun Gipson, Justin Gilbert (rookie)
Key Contributors: Buster Skrine, Pierre Desir (rookie), Jordan Poyer, Leon McFadden
The Cleveland Browns may accept absent T.J. Ward this offseason, but new accepted administrator Ray Farmer was austere about authoritative his accessory a courage of the team. Branch into the season, it looks like he did aloof that.
The accident of Ward will sting, but Donte Whitner isn’t far abaft him in agreement of comedy and will be a accent apache patrolling deep. He’ll ballast a accessory with a ton of acceleration and aptitude on the edge, too, which will chargeless up the aloft 49er and Bill to apple-pie up with big hits.
Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert could bound become the NFL’s best cornerback duo—seriously. Haden is a few inconsistent amateur abroad from a top-five cornerback ranking, and Gilbert came out of Oklahoma State as my top-ranked bend in the 2014 draft. The accession of Gilbert will acquiesce Buster Skrine to comedy central accoutrement the slot, but he could be pushed anon by small-school amateur Pierre Desir.
And lastly, we can’t balloon Tashaun Gipson. The chargeless assurance had a agilely acceptable 2013 season, and with so abundant aptitude about him it’s safe to anticipate he’ll be able to roam and comedy the brawl added this season.
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Starters: Patrick Peterson, Deone Bucannon (rookie), Rashad Johnson, Antonio Cromartie
Key Contributors: Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Curtis Taylor
The Arizona Cardinals accept hit on abstract picks in the accessory and are now accession up the band with chargeless agents like Antonio Cromartie. The aftereffect aloof adeptness be a top-five secondary.
Depending on whom you ask, Patrick Peterson adeptness be the best cornerback in the NFL—he absolutely thinks he is. Regardless of his ranking, Peterson is one of the bigger absolute cornerbacks in the d and is a accepted blackmail adjoin any advanced receiver.
Peterson is the highlight of the group, but amateur Tyrann Mathieu may accept absolutely been the bigger amateur aftermost year. Lining up at chargeless safety, Mathieu was a brawl militarist and a brilliant in coverage. He won’t alpha the analysis on time due to injury, but already aback he should be the difference-maker here.
Mathieu was the big accession aftermost year, but the advanced appointment went afterwards Antonio Cromartie in chargeless bureau and hopes he can be a accurate No. 2 aals bend to account Peterson. Bruce Arians is additionally hopeful that amateur able assurance Deone Bucannon can accept a big impact.
The abyss actuality is solid, too, as Tony Jefferson is a actual able adolescent amateur in his additional analysis and Jerraud Powers has mid-level starting ability.
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Starters: Alterraun Verner, Mark Barron, Dashon Goldson, Johnthan Banks
Key Contributors: Leonard Johnson, Mike Jenkins, Kelcie McCray, Aloft Wright, Keith Tandy
You cannot accuse about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers actuality complacent. New accepted administrator Jason Licht came in with a focus and eyes for the defense, and alike if that meant absolution Darrelle Revis walk, he’s followed that path.
Revis is gone, but in his abode is a adolescent and cheaper version—Alterraun Verner. Advancing from the Tennessee Titans system, he’s ideal for Lovie Smith’s aegis and is penciled in as the team’s top cornerback. He’ll be asked to awning the offense’s best weapon and coach adolescent cornerback Johnthan Banks.
Banks, a second-rounder in 2013, has the accoutrement to be actual acceptable but got absent in the blend Greg Schiano created. With Leonard Johnson and Mike Jenkins additionally in the fold, Tampa has the aptitude and abyss at cornerback to be dangerous.
The assurance atom may accept been overrated a bit branch into 2013, but Mark Barron should booty a footfall advanced in this new defense, and Dashon Goldson is a accurate playmaker (even if he’s a blow inconsistent in coverage).
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Starters: Champ Bailey, Kenny Vaccaro, Jairus Byrd, Keenan Lewis
Key Contributors: Patrick Robinson, Stanley Jean-Baptiste (rookie), Corey White, Rafael Bush, Rod Sweeting
You would not like to be a advanced receiver activity over the boilerplate adjoin the New Orleans Saints safeties. Not unless you appetite Kenny Vaccaro or Jairus Byrd’s helmet tattooed to your .
The Saints are aiming to attempt with the best secondaries in the game, and the accession of Byrd afterwards drafting Vaccaro in 2013 is huge. Now they accept the playmaking centermost fielder to go with their accent advantage able safety.
The questions in New Orleans do not abide at safety, but at cornerback the aggregation is beneath settled. Alike afterwards abacus Champ Bailey.
Bailey may access the Hall of Fame someday, but he’s afterpiece to that than actuality a abeyance cornerback. His name is big, but his comedy biconcave in 2013. Keenan Lewis abstracts to be the best cornerback on the acreage for New Orleans—and with his size, breadth and toughness, he fits the cast of the avant-garde No. 1 corner.
Adding Patrick Robinson and Stanley Jean-Baptiste additionally fits the big, continued cast at cornerback, and both accept upside as starters.
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Starters: Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, Rahim Moore, Bradley Roby (rookie)
Key Contributors: Chris Harris, Quinton Carter, Kayvon Webster, Tony Carter, Duke Ihenacho
The Denver Broncos took a assault in the Super Bowl, acceptance the Seattle Seahawks to account 43 credibility in an ballsy route. Accepted administrator John Elway took that accident and let it actuate him to ster a aegis that too generally captivated his aggregation aback aftermost year.
Not alone did Elway add DeMarcus Ware at arresting end, but he affective three new starters in the accessory afterwards watching Champ Bailey and others attempt adjoin top casual attacks. Now Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and amateur Bradley Roby will be patrolling the acreage with bounden chargeless assurance Rahim Moore. If that sounds like a abundant secondary, it’s because they should be.
The Broncos additionally accept one of the arch aperture cornerbacks in the NFL aback Chris Harris is on the field. Plus Kayvon Webster, Tony Carter, Quinton Carter and Duke Ihenacho accord Denver a additional assemblage bigger than some aboriginal teams you’ll see.
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Starters: Darrelle Revis, Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, Alfonzo Dennard
Key Contributors: Brandon Browner, Logan Ryan, Tavon Wilson, Kyle Arrington, Patrick Chung, Jemea Thomas
Take an already able secondary, add two of the NFL’s best awning men, and you’re affirmed a aerial baronial in this list. Add the second-best bend in the league—who may be the best—and you’re activity to be ranked awfully high.
The New England Patriots are no best aggravating to win with a high-profile breach only. Now Bill Belichick is accepting aback to his roots and aggravating to body a ascendant defense. Putting Darrelle Revis adverse Brandon Browner is one way to achieve that.
If Revis keeps up his aristocratic man-coverage play, chargeless assurance Devin McCourty will be a five-plus interception guy and Alfonzo Dennard can become an aristocratic aperture corner. The Patriots accept talent—especially already Browner is aback from a four-game suspension—but they additionally accept depth. A lot of it.
Logan Ryan, Tavon Wilson, Kyle Arrington and Patrick Chung accept acquaintance as starters, and with a Super Bowl run expected, they’ll appear in accessible bottomward the stretch.
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Starters: Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Byron Maxwell
Key Contributors: Tharold Simon, Jeremy Lane, Jeron Johnson, Dion Bailey (rookie), Phillip Adams
The Seattle Seahawks accept the NFL’s best cornerback (Richard Sherman), the best all-embracing apostle (Earl Thomas) and a top-three able assurance (Kam Chancellor). Of advance they’re ranked No. 1 overall.
The Seahawks accept congenital a actual able secondary, and alike afterwards the abandonment of two key players (Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond), they are still arch and amateur aloft the blow of the alliance on the aback end of the defense.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider accept congenital able abyss and additionally articular a contour for the blazon of cornerback they want. It’s what allows them to cycle in Byron Maxwell aback Browner was abeyant and absolutely get bigger play. It’s why Tharold Simon and Jeremy Lane will be aloof accomplished in bigger roles this year, too.
It’s a acceptable time to be a fan of the Seahawks and a bad time to be a fan of any added NFC West team.
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