A position of growing importance with the advent of the pass-first offense in the NFL, cornerbacks are called upon to play more and more. This draws into question why the front office and Head Coach Hue Jackson are only carrying four corners into the beginning of the season.
Given defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ penchant for playing multiple players, it seems odd that they are only bringing four cornerbacks to Week 1. Jackson, when asked, had this to say: “Sometimes even though there is four receivers out there, we still might play with more safeties. We might play with more linebackers. We do a lot of different things as you guys know. I think we are OK. I think you guys know this is still all fluid as of right now. There are still going to be some things, I am sure, that we continue to work through, but I think when the time comes we will be where we need to be.”
Let’s take a look at those four cornerbacks in our positonal preview. Normally, we would go through some bullet points, but because cuts have already happened, we will go through the four and see what could be in store.
According to the unofficial depth chart released today, Taylor will be one of the two starting cornerbacks. Jamar has impressed since coming over in a trade with the Miami Dolphins last year. The trade was an odd one for Miami to make since Taylor is still young (27 this year) and didn’t play much for the ‘Phins. They did sign him to an extension last year, a 3 year $16.5 million deal that will pay him through 2019. Drafted in the second round, Taylor has the pedigree and measurables (5’9″, 192lbs) to produce results, and without Joe Haden across from him, he now has the opportunity to match.
Signed in the offseason from the Tennessee Titans, McCourty has done everything asked of him since arriving. It can be reasoned that in large part, the play of McCourty and Briean Boddy-Calhoun in the preseason was what led the Browns front office to make the decision to cut Joe Haden (well that and the money they were going to save in doing so.) A seasoned starter, McCourty is listed to be starting across from Taylor and should see the bulk of the snaps. Look for a good, maybe not great, season from McCourty as he bolsters his value with Cleveland.
There is no better example that this front office might be the best one since the Browns have returned than Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Boddy-Calhoun has come out of nowhere (an undrafted free agent a year ago) and is going to be the third starting cornerback. Yes, there are only two starters, but with teams going spread more often, three corners are needed more frequently and Gregg Williams likes to mix up packages and play fresh players. I fully expect a solid season from Boddy-Calhoun and one in which it is a near guarantee he is one of the actual starters by years end.
Jordan is the fourth cornerback on the roster, claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams. He was an undrafted free agent as well last year and played for Gregg Williams while in LA. He played well enough there to start two games and now has come to play for Williams again. At 6’1″, 200lbs Jordan is a bigger corner and should allow for some sub packages with him on the outside against the bigger wide receivers. He should also play some on special teams and could get into some decent playing time.
Overall opinion: While not a deep position in numbers, it is a deep position in value. Of the four cornerbacks on the roster, all four have started NFL games in the past. While most would like to have a 5th or 6th corner on the roster for injury related issues, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a good position group top to bottom. Jordan and Boddy-Calhoun will get their fair share of playing time in sub packages, while Taylor and McCourty will get the starts.