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Positional Rankings: Cornerback

The positional ranking series continues by looking at cornerbacks.

First: Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings get the best grade because they are the deepest at CB and have a good number 1 CB, solid number 2 CB with depth and good slot CB with depth. Mike Zimmer loves corners and he has plenty of talent for his team. Xavier Rhodes is a good number 1 CB despite his grade (-1.0). He has the size and speed to matchup with number 1 WRs. Rhodes allowed a 107 QB rating but only 57 % completion. Rhodes was beaten for 7 TDs and had only 1 interception.

Terrence Newman is an old veteran that excels with Mike Zimmer (+3.8). Trae Waynes is a 1st round pick from 2015 waiting in the wings but had some struggles early last season. Captain Munnerlyn is a good slot CB (+10.1). Mackensie Alexander was drafted in Round 2 in the 2016 draft to be the future slot CB for the Vikings. Marcus Sherels is the sixth CB and a solid punt returner.

The Vikings have plenty of CB depth and some good CBs on their roster. The Vikings gave up 90 QB rating in 2015 which was 15th in the league last season but have good CBs to improve and lots of depth.

Tied Second: Green Bay Packers

The Packers have a good number 1 CB in Sam Shields. Shields had a good grade at +3.8 and allowed only a 70.3 QB rating with 63.2% completion. Shields only gave up 1 TD and had 3 interceptions. Shields has been the top corner for the Packers for a few years now but does have some concussion concerns. Damarius Randall and Quentin Rollins were first and second round picks in the 2015 draft by the Packers.

Green Bay lost slot CB Casey Hayward in free agency and Rollins will be asked to fill in. Rollins did well in over 300 snaps (+7.7). Rollins only gave up 56.4% and allowed 0 TDs with 2 interceptions. Randall was a solid number 2 with an average grade. Randall only gave up 56.6% completion but allowed 15.7 YPC and had 3 interceptions. Micah Hyde is an average slot CB and is the backup free safety. Ladarius Gunter only played 14 snaps as an undrafted free agent. Gunter is unproven as the 5th CB. Demetri Goodson played 73 snaps but had a -1.3 grade. The Packers have 3 good top CBS but lack depth of the Vikings unless Gunter steps up. Randall and Rollins still have more to prove in 2016 though.

Tied Second: Detroit Lions

The Lions CB group is very underrated after 2015. Darius Slay is a stud shut down corner at a +15.8 grade. Slay allowed 60.3 % completion and low YPC. Quandre Diggs (+6.3) had a very good rookie season in the slot CB spot. Diggs had a slow start and a bad Week 17 but a very good 2015 season overall. Nevin Lawson was solid in filling in for Rashean Mathis the last 9 games of the season. Lawson only gave up 56% completion and a low 9.1 YPC despite a poor grade. The Lions have plenty of good young CBs.

Alex Carter has good size, speed and intelligence but missed his rookie season due to injury. Carter is very unproven but has some talent as a former 3rd round pick in 2015. Darrin Walls has experience with the Jets and should be the Lions 5th CB.  The Lions gave up 100.9 QB rating but this was due to Mathis, Wilson, Tulloch (coverage) and Ihedigbo playing in the first 8 games. The secondary coverage was very good with Lawson and Diggs teaming with Slay in the second half of the 2015 season. The Lions have 3 good top CBs but lack the depth of the Vikings unless Carter steps up. Lawson and Diggs have plenty to prove to follow up on a successful second half of 2015.

Fourth: Atlanta Falcons

Desmond Trufant is a very good number 1 CB (+13.3). Robert Alford did well as the Falcons number 2 CB too (+2.3). Trufant allowed 57% completion and 85 QB rating. Alford allowed only 50% completion and an 80 QB rating. The Falcons have a very good starting CB combo.

Jalen Collins was drafted in Round 2 of the 2015 draft and struggled in his rookie season in over 300 snaps. Collins is suspended the first four games of the seasons due to a substance abuse violation. Robinson Therezie struggled in 400 snaps and the rest of the depth is very unknown for Atlanta. Trufant and Alford is a very good combination but the Falcons need more from the slot and depth CBs.

Tied Fifth: New Orleans Saints

Delvin Breaux was a pleasant surprise in 2015 for the Saints. Breaux had a +11.8 grade and allowed only 48.8% complete. Breaux did give up 10 TDS in 2015. Keenan Lewis returns from injury and is much needed help for the Saints CB corp. Lewis is a good CB in past seasons and the Saints really need him to stay healthy in 2016.

PJ Williams was a 4th round pick from 2015 and Kyle Wilson was added for the slot in 2015. Wilson was a failed 1st round pick for the Jets and struggled in 2015 with the Saints. The Saints gave up a beyond terrible 106 QB rating in 2015. GM Mickey Loomis let failed free agent Brandon Browner go this offseason and get Lewis back from injury. Damian Swann was an average backup. The Saints have talent at CB and safety. They just couldn’t put it together and need a better pass rush.

Tied Fifth: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay has some potential in the secondary by adding Brent Grimes (+3.7) and rookie1st round pick Vernon Hargreaves III. Tampa Bay struggled with Alterraun Verner (-8.8) and Jonathan Banks (-5.5) in 2015 despite giving big free agent money to Verner and drafting Banks in Round 2 in 2013. Josh Robinson was a 3rd round bust for the Vikings but was added to revive his career in Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay will move to a new system after firing Lovie Smith and Verner might not fit. Grimes is a headache but has been a good CB for many years. Hargreaves has potential and Verner could fit the slot spot. If Tampa can revive Robinson or Banks they might have some potential. Due to Tampa Bay’s safety issues, the Tampa CBs better play well in 2016 to fix their pass defense.

Seventh: Chicago Bears

Kyle Fuller rebounded in the second year of his career (+3.7). Fuller only allowed 56.5% and 10.9 YPC with 2 interceptions for 86.9 QB rating. Fuller is turning into a good number 1 CB but needs to continue to progress. Tracy Porter struggled with a -4.4 grade and Sherrick McManis struggled in the slot with a -9.4 grade. Porter only allowed 52% completion but allowed a high 16.7 YPC and 107 QB rating. GM Ryan Pace chose to re-sign Porter and McManis this offseason.

Pace drafted Deiondre Hall in Round 4 from Northern Iowa of the draft to add some depth and compete with Porter and McManis. The Bears depth is more unknown after Hall. Chicago needs to add a CB. The CB group looks like a weakness for Chicago.

Eight: Carolina Panthers

Carolina lost stud Josh Norman (+13.4) after cutting him loose from the franchise tag due to Norman’s contract demands. GM David Gettleman replaced Norman (top 3 CB) with rookie mid round picks. Norman was a 5th round pick but took some time to develop. Carolina has a good pass rush and good front 7 but might have some issues in coverage losing Norman. We’ll see if Gettleman was smart to save the cap but lose the talent.

Bene Benwikere is a good CB. He played 797 snaps before injury and had a +.7 grade. He can play the run and is solid against the pass despite his poor grade (-6.2). The Panthers will need him to not only stay healthy but step up for the loss of Norman.

James Bradberry and Daryl Worley were drafted in 2016 to replace Norman. Bradberry is from Samford and Worley is from West Virginia. We’ll see if Carolina and their DC Sean McDermott can plug and play the cornerbacks in Carolina’s system this season. Robert McClain is an average slot CB who struggled with the Falcons in previous years. McClain only played 35 snaps for Carolina last season. GM Gettleman knows what he is doing after building this defense but they have a lot of CB question marks, they lack a true number 1 CB and have depth issues.

Summary

The Vikings, Packers and Lions have good CB corps. The Vikings have the best depth and win the ranking. Green Bay had the best production from 2015 in QB Rating allowed but lost some depth losing Hayward. Randall and Rollins must follow up their success similar and the same applies for Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs for the Lions for 2016.

Falcons may have the best starting CB tandem but lack slot CB and depth. Tampa Bay is much improved with Grimes and Hargreaves but Tampa has a new scheme for Verner (fit Lovie’s defense best).

The Saints could be improved with the return of Lewis but still have slot issues and Breaux must follow up on a good season. Chicago has some CB2 and slot CB issues and Carolina looks like a mess after losing Norman despite a great front 7 and some young rookies to groom.