NFC North Grades and Needs: Cornerback

+ posts

NFC North Grades and Needs series will take a look at the cornerbacks of the NFC North. There is a lot of talent in the division but injuries and regression derailed the production.

Minnesota Vikings: A-

The Vikings had a very good year in coverage allowing only an 83 QB rating (4th best in the league). Xavier Rhodes had a strong year as the Vikings number one CB. Terrence Newman was revived at 37 with a top 10 CB performance in the league (9th best). Trae Waynes showed progress but nickel CB Captain Munnerlyn was average. Rookie 2nd round pick Mackensie Alexander didn’t show much in 67 snaps.

Newman and Munnerlyn are both free agents which gives the Vikings needs. Minnesota could get Newman back for one more year but that is risky at 38 years old despite his strong 2016 performance. Munnerlyn may be gone with Alexander waiting in the wrongs. The Vikings need one CB if Munnerlyn walks.

Detroit Lions: B+

Darius Slay had another good season for the Lions after inking a contract extension prior to the season. Slay missed 2.5 games due injury and the Lions really need Slay to stay healthy and on the field. Big play Slay won two games by himself for the Lions by forcing a fumble against the Eagles plus a game clinching interception. Slay intercepted Bradford late in the 4th Quarter to win on Thanksgiving.

Nevin Lawson had a nice year as the number 2 CB for Detroit. Lawson had a 77.1 grade and didn’t give up many big plays. He’s a solid CB and will be in the last year of his deal in 2017. Quandre Diggs regressed in 2016 after a nice rookie season in 2015 at slot CB. Diggs was injured late in the season and Detroit had major problems at nickel after Diggs went on IR.

Johnson Bademosi did well in the Houston game filling in for Slay but had problems in the Giants and Cowboys game. Bademosi is a very good special teamer but the Lions need to add more depth. Late pickups Asa Jackson and Crezdon Butler really struggled at nickel. Don Carey struggled in his shot at nickel as well. Alex Carter was on the practice squad until late in the season. The 2015 3rd round pick has been far below expectations.

Detroit needs to add CB depth and add a nickel to compete with the injured Diggs.

Chicago Bears: D+

The Bears had major problems at CB. Top CB Kyle Fuller missed the entire season with an injury. Tracy Porter and Sherrick McManis were busts as re-signed CBs by Ryan Pace. Jacoby Glenn, De’Vaunte Bausby and Deiondre Hall all are young players and all struggled heavily in 2016. Bryce Callahan was the lone bright spot with an average 72.6 grade for Chicago. Chicago needs to get Fuller healthy and add a number 2 and slot CB.

Green Bay Packers: D

Number 1 CB Sam Shields only played part of one game after a concussion. His career is probably over. Second year players Damarius Randall and Quentin Rollins regressed from their 2015 rookie performances. Rollins had a poor 58.1 grade and Randall had an awful 39.6 grade. These two high picks must rebound in 2017 or the Packers will be in trouble. Ladarius Gunter earned a 49.6 grade but he was an undrafted free agent in 2015. Gunter played 1,055 snaps, Rollins 722 snaps and Randall notched 692 snaps. Injuries didn’t help Green Bay but they didn’t have the depth as expected.

Micah Hyde was solid in the nickel spot but is a free agent this offseason. Green Bay must hope Randall, Rollins and Gunter figure out how to get better. Green Bay will need a nickel if Hyde bolts. Green Bay should really add a number 1 CB in FA or the draft if they don’t think Randall and Rollins can step up into that role.

Free Agency

There will be a good number of top cornerbacks available in free agency. AJ Bouye and Stephon Gilmore top the list. Trumaine Johnson was tagged by the Rams and won’t hit the market again this offseason. Morris Claiborne had a nice year with Dallas in 2016 and was a former first round pick. Alterraun Verner was cut by Tampa Bay and the Jets cut Darelle Revis. Revis has major off field issues right now.

Brandon Carr and Tramon Williams have experience but haven’t played well recently. Terrence Newman had a great year for Minnesota but is 38 years old.

Justin Gilbert, DJ Hayden, Dre Kirkpatrick, Kyle Wilson and Prince Amukamara are all former 1st round picks that need a change of scenery.

Nolan Carroll, Captain Munnerlyn, Logan Ryan are the top slot CB options.


The draft is deep at CB this year.

Marshon Lattimore, Teez Tabor, Marlon Humphrey, Sidney Jones and Gareon Conley could all be first round picks. Desmond King, TreDavious White, Howard Wilson, Jourdan Lewis, Cordrae Tankersley, Howard Wilson are solid day 2 options for CB needy teams.


The Vikings and Bears need a second and slot CB right now. The Packers need a number 1 CB and possibly a slot CB if Hyde leaves. The Lions need to add better depth in case Slay gets injured since Lawson is clearly only a number 2. Lawson played well but is in the last year of his rookie deal means a new number 2 CB could be added. Competition for Diggs in the nickel is also possible since Diggs was injured. There are plenty of options at cornerback this offseason.