Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NFL Free Agency: Cornerback Power Rankings

With the unofficial start of the NFL free agent season just days away (teams can begin meeting with players as soon as Friday), the Pewter Plank is going to bring you breakdowns of some of the positions the Buccaneers might be interested in spending money on this offseason. The objective is to give each player a score based on three categories, and then rank each position based on these scores. The categories will be:

Talent (50%) – Raw talent and ability. This is like the overall rating in Madden or the ESPN Insider grade.

Value (25%) – How much will they sign for? Will they out-price their talent and ability?

Potential (25%) – Will the player be worth the length of his contract, does he have room to improve, or is a plateau or decline in skills likely?

Let’s start with the cornerbacks. Check out the list below, and leave a comment and let me know who you think should be higher or lower, and why.

Name, Team Talent Value Potential Total
Greg Toler, ARI 34 20 17 71
Brent Grimes, ATL 40 20 10 70
Sean Smith, MIA 39 10 20 69
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, PHI 38 12 16 66
Dunta Robinson, ATL 38 18 10 66
Derek Cox, JAC 37 10 16 63
Bradley Fletcher, STL 30 15 18 63
Antoine Cason, SD 33 16 13 62
Chris Houston, DET 33 17 12 62
Mike Jenkins, DAL 30 18 14 62
Cary Williams, BAL 38 8 15 61
Adam Jones, CIN 34 14 13 61
Quentin Jammer, SD 35 20 5 60
Kyle Arrington, NE 31 15 14 60
Sheldon Brown, CLE 35 20 4 59
Captain Munnerlyn, CAR 28 16 15 59
Darius Butler, IND 28 16 15 59
Keenan Lewis, PIT 33 10 15 58
Terence Newman, CIN 33 15 10 58
William Gay, ARI 28 15 10 53

Comments for each player:

Name, Team Comments
Greg Toler, ARI Toler is one of my favorite corners in this year’s free agent crop. A hard worker who’s had some issues staying on the field due to injuries, but when he’s there, he shows real talent.
Brent Grimes, ATL Concerns about health mean lower potential but higher value Also approaching 30 years old, not the youngest player available.
Sean Smith, MIA Sean Smith knows he’s good and won’t come cheap. He’s big, strong, physical, and shows good burst in short areas. At only 25, he’s got a lot of football ahead of him.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, PHI DRC lacks good change of direction and falls victim to double teams, but he’s a monster of an athlete. He’ll likely be quite costly to sign, which limits his value ranking.
Dunta Robinson, ATL Not the youngest player available, but he’s got great closing speed and is big enough to hold up against tough wideouts
Derek Cox, JAC Durability issues and a lack of elite skills drop Cox down the list, but he’ll still likely command a sizable paycheck this offseason.
Bradley Fletcher, STL Fletcher would fit well with the Bucs system, but has been known to pick up a flag or two. If he’s cheap enough he’d be a good pickup for depth.
Antoine Cason, SD He’ll come at about half the cost of Sean Smith, and while he’s not the same calibre of athlete and struggles a bit in picking up the play, he’s likely a solid value pickup.
Chris Houston, DET Reliable veteran corner with athleticism, but doesn’t stand out in any one area.
Mike Jenkins, DAL Jenkins has had some rough patches in his career so far, but could still have a future as a second or third corner thanks to his willingness to be pyhsical in the pass and run games.
Cary Williams, BAL Similar to Sean Smith, Cary Williams knows he’s good. But since he’s already 28 years old, and has shown a lack of discipline at times, he might not be worth the contract.
Adam Jones, CIN Jones did quite well in 2012, and is proving to be a nice bounceback player after a shaky start to his career. However, he’s likely not the kind of player Greg Schiano wants around.
Quentin Jammer, SD Jammer is certainly past his prime, but still has the skills and knowledge to be a solid NFL defensive back.
Kyle Arrington, NE The Pats may have sought after Aqib Talib to replace Arrington, but don’t let that fool you. He’s a very capable defensive back.
Sheldon Brown, CLE Similar to Jammer, Brown has all the skills but has past his prime.
Captain Munnerlyn, CAR The potential is there for Captain to be a solid second corner in this league, but when you’re benched by the Panthers, something might be wrong. Still, he’s young and has great mechanics.
Darius Butler, IND Butler has made a name for himself in Indy after being cut by the Patriots, and might be a decent value pick to add depth to the defensive backfield
Keenan Lewis, PIT I dock Lewis in value because he’s not a great fit for our system as a man-to-man corner. He’s definitely more of a zone guy who would be better suited in another system.
Terence Newman, CIN Newman is going to turn 35 this fall, and while he’s got great mechanics as a corner, he’s not got a lot of football ahead of him
William Gay, ARI Gay was released by the Cardinals after being beat regularly in 2012. He’s shown the ability in the past, but seems to have lost his edge.

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