- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
After watching games and breaking down film, Scouts Inc., in conjunction with ESPN.com's Matt Williamson, has evaluated and graded more than 2,500 NFL players heading into the 2012 season. Here's how the top cornerbacks stacked up.
Note: No rookies were included in this exercise. Age refers to player's age at start of the 2012 season on Sept. 5.
Because of the rules favoring the passing game, playing cornerback now is more difficult than ever. Still, every team is looking for physical, press-man corners who they can align on the opponent's No. 1 wide receiver, while Cover 2-type cornerbacks are in less demand than in previous years.
Also, now more than ever, the slot cornerback position needs to be considered as a starter. And slot corners are often asked to handle different responsibilities than their teammates on the outside, as they often face smaller, quicker wide receivers who have more space to operate -- but also can align against a very athletic tight end. Slot corners also can't be lacking for physicality, as they align close to the ball and are often asked to contribute in the running game or as blitzers.
Darrelle Revis is clearly the top player at the CB position, but there is a bevy of young cover men who do not get the recognition that they deserve from most fans. Lardarius Webb and Brent Grimes aren't household names, but both rank among the top five cornerbacks in the game.
Two cornerbacks who need to be mentioned from this list are Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey, as their sustained excellence at a position that demands so much from a speed and movement standpoint is truly remarkable. Woodson and Bailey are all-time greats who still are playing at a very high level.
Revis continues to be one of the most durable and productive perimeter defenders in the league and had another excellent season in 2011. He has adequate size, outstanding athleticism and deceptive strength.
His anticipation and his ability to jump routes is excellent and enables him to make big plays. Many offensive coordinators will create game plans that work the opposite side of the field to negate his potential game-changing performance.
Asomugha had a solid season in his first year in Philadelphia. He is one of the biggest and most athletic perimeter defenders in the league. He uses his length and strength to reroute receivers.
He can be explosive in transition and shows excellent range defending the run as well as the pass. Asomugha, a nine-year veteran, brings experience and a physical presence to the Eagles' secondary.
Joseph brings a good combination of size and speed to the position and gives the Texans a shutdown corner who can defend one side of the field with minimal help over the top. He can extend the cushion with a fluid, quick-footed pedal and flips his hips with ease and no restrictions.
He is quick in transition and drives on the ball thrown in front of him with a good burst to close. He is a solid run-support corner who is a reliable tackler both in the hole and in space.
4hOhm Youngmisuk and Rich Cimini