The NFL Top 100 Players of 2022 checklist, a gaggle compiled by the gamers themselves, included eight cornerbacks, who had been ranked from 89th (Saints’ Marshon Lattimore) to ninth (Rams’ Jalen Ramsey). Every participant talked about is an amazing expertise, even Trevon Diggs (ranked Twenty third). I simply don’t assume he’s worthy of top-100 recognition. That stated, in my view, there are solely about three cornerbacks within the league proper now who’re above Atlanta’s A.J. Terrell. Ramsey, the Chargers’ J.C. Jackson, and Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander.
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Alexander didn’t make the Top 100 as a result of he was injured many of the season. He solely performed in 4 video games all 12 months. That absence is excusable, however to depart Terrell off is against the law in opposition to all issues holy. Strictly as a canopy nook, Terrell is among the finest within the league. Pro Football Focus gave Terrell the second-highest coverage grade of all certified corners in 2021, behind solely Ramsey. He was one among solely 5 corners to obtain a grade of 80 or larger.
Perhaps there may be an argument that Terrell hasn’t been nice for lengthy sufficient, and thus, he shouldn’t be included among the many finest nook within the league. That can be an honest counterpoint if Diggs wasn’t additionally on the checklist. In 2020, Diggs had a really related season to Terrell. Terrell was higher in opposition to the run, however that’s largely irrelevant for the sake of this text. The reality is that if Diggs’ breakout 12 months was adequate for the gamers to rank him the Twenty third-best participant within the NFL, Terrell must be within the prime 50, and that’s me being lenient.
Terrell was finest within the league in completion share allowed (41.1 %), yards allowed per goal (4.1), and protection success price (68.5 %), in response to Next Gen Stats. Terrell additionally allowed only a 49.9 % passer ranking when focused and led the NFL in focused anticipated factors added (-29.4).
I believe the very best figuring out issue of a cornerback’s greatness although is goal price. If you’re the highest nook in your crew, you’re probably lining up in opposition to the opposing quarterback’s prime possibility everytime you’re on the sphere. Quarterbacks normally need to feed their prime wideout. Despite that reality, Terrell confronted a goal price of simply 14.1 %, the bottom among the many eight cornerbacks within the Top 100. In reality, the closest was Cleveland’s Denzel Ward, who confronted 71 targets in 15 video games. Terrell confronted 5 fewer targets in yet another recreation — or 41 extra coverage snaps, which might be a greater measuring stick actually. I believe that’s a fairly good measurement of how a lot opposing quarterbacks revered Terrell.
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After all, wasn’t it Tom Brady who stated that if he didn’t respect a cornerback, he’d throw at him all day?
I perceive that the cornerback place is probably not probably the most glamorous place within the eyes of different NFL gamers. I perceive that maybe Terrell received ignored due to how unhealthy the Falcons had been final 12 months, however that’s no excuse to depart somebody that gifted off of a prime gamers’ checklist. You can lookup (virtually) any statistic, any superior stat, any piece of analytics relating to cornerback play in 2021 and Terrell might be close to the highest of the checklist. He was completely phenomenal, and well-deserving of Top 100 recognition.