Bucs are best in the NFC

In honor of the holiday season, Eric Allen hands out his rankings of the cornerbacks in the NFC.

Updated: December 2, 2005, 9:28 PM ET
By Eric Allen | ESPN Insider
Since it's the season for giving and giving thanks, I've decided to give out medals to the secondaries in the NFC and AFC. I've broken them up into four categories -- bronze, silver, gold and the ultimate prize is the platinum medal, which sparkles like the cornerbacks who play for that team. My look at the NFC reveals some teams have done a great job of putting guys together who work off their respective strengths and weaknesses.


The best set of cornerbacks in the NFC clearly belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have the tandem of Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber. They've been on top of the game for years and have done it all. They were a large part of the Bucs' Super Bowl championship. They have been part of a defense that has finished the season ranked No. 1 in the league. They've scored touchdowns, intercepted passes and have generally been shutdown corners.

Contrary to popular belief, this team doesn't just run Cover 2; they run a myriad of different coverages just like any other defense in the league. Barber and Kelly are extremely intelligent students of the game who are successful because of the combination of inherent talent and hard work.

Eric Allen

NFL studio analyst
Eric Allen, a 14-year NFL veteran and was one of the NFL's premier defensive backs, joined ESPN in August 2002 as an NFL studio analyst. His primary role is providing analysis for ESPNEWS' Monday Quarterback.