Photo Credit: Kare 11
There are many tough positions in the NFL, but none are like the cornerback position. Outside of the quarterback position, I believe corners are tasked with the hardest job in the NFL. Yeah, obviously what they do is tough, but what people need to comprehend is that play after play they must be as athletic and fast as their opposing receiver. They must run with and cover the routes of the receivers, then turn and try to make a play on the ball after exerting all that energy to get into position. They are matched with the players that in the combine literally ran the fastest 40 times, and then are expected to play good defense on top of that. Knowing their own defensive schemes and the other team’s offense/plays is a lot to handle as well. Think about it. It’s an extremely tough feat and defensive backs never get the credit they deserve.
You ever notice every year there is some breakout, big talking corner who seems to quietly disappear the next year? For example, players like Richard Sherman, Josh Norman, Xavier Rhodes, Patrick Peterson, and Jalen Ramsey all have had multiple highly successful seasons, but never seem to repeat as the top corner for consecutive years. It is because they have to relentlessly be perfect. They can have strong coverage for 19 plays then decide to not go 100% on the 20th play, and potentially let up a game-changing long touchdown just by resting a little. Another example is Marshon Lattimore, one of my favorite players (Go Buckeyes). Lattimore has had a decent season this year, shutting down some of the top receivers in Odell Beckham and Julio Jones. Week 1 of this season was different for him though. He let Mike Evans smoke him for only 4 catches that resulted in 115 yards in a 48-40 win for the Buccaneers. That doesn’t look terrible on paper but it affected the game greatly. It is very hard to intercept the ball too, as most players are on defense for their lack of ability to catch the ball. Byron Jones for the Cowboys is the first corner in recent memory to make the Pro Bowl without an interception, speaking to his superb skills in coverage.
Aron Glenn, a 15-year cornerback in the NFL and now one of the DB coaches for the New Orleans Saints, said, “I wish every game was going to be all roses, but it’s not. That’s the life of being a defensive back. There are going to be some games when the feeling’s just not there. Every time you think they’re going to make a right cut, they make a left cut.” All positions have pros, cons, and hold different challenges, but corners have the hardest job in trying to consistently maintain the highest level of play.