Video

Stephon Gilmore is the Closest Current DB to Darrelle Revis

Editor’s Note: The 33rd Team’s Greg Jennings discusses the toughest defensive back he ever played and what modern active players remind him the most of his toughest opponent. 

 

The toughest defensive back I have ever faced was Darrelle Revis because of his level of awareness, savviness, understanding and insight, along with his physicality. More than anything, it was his patience at the line of scrimmage. As a receiver, we all assess the corners across the line of scrimmage from us, and the first assessment is: Can I get him off with my first move?

If there is no concern that he can get his hands on me, I’m good. I don’t care who it is. But when you have a defensive back that is patient and physical like Revis, it becomes a tough chess match.

As far as modern comparisons to Revis, I would say Stephon Gilmore. He shows an extreme amount of patience at the line of scrimmage, awareness of route concepts, and he just knows what opposing receivers are trying to do. It’s hard to get open on guys like Gilmore with his patience and length.

There are a lot of great corners now. Obviously, Jalen Ramsey is the best in the game. Ramsey plays with such a high level of confidence and a disregard for if you beat him. If you beat him, he’s going to just line back up and run the next play.

I also love watching Xavien Howard. Howard shows physicality and length with ball skills and patience at the line of scrimmage. When you combine all of those traits together, you have a very dynamic cornerback.

I also appreciate guys like J.C. Jackson and Denzel Ward as well. There are a lot of talented corners right now in the NFL.

Video

Dolphins CB Xavien Howard Top Ballhawk in NFL

Editor’s note: As a three-time all-pro defensive back with 47 career interceptions, former Tampa Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber knows a thing or two about ballhawking. The 33rd Team asked him which players currently in the NFL are the top ballhawks.

 

The best ballhawking corner in the league right now is Miami’s Xavien Howard. He’s big, fast and has unbelievable leaping skills. He also has soft hands. When Howard goes up for an interception, it’s not like he’s trying to just defend the football. He’s trying to catch the ball. That’s why he leads the league in interceptions over the last three seasons.

The Chargers’ J.C. Jackson really jumped out at me last year, and I had been sleeping on him when he was in New England. He’s not your prototypical, modern NFL cornerback. He’s not 6-2, he doesn’t have long arms. But he is a ball magnet. A lot of what gets him in front of passes is his knowledge of the game and his anticipation. Some of it is scheme-related. But he still has to catch the ball, and he does that as well as anybody in football right now.

Trevon Diggs of the Dallas Cowboys is phenomenal as a ballhawk. He’s physically gifted and mentally strong. You could make the point that he gives up a ton of yards, and he does — more than anybody in the league last year. But what stands out about him is his ability to go get the ball. He looks like a receiver, and he played receiver at Alabama before transitioning to defense; we all know how good his brother Stefon is at that, too.

What signifies a great corner in this league is the ability to take the ball away. Having good coverage skills and taking one side of the field away means nothing to me if you aren’t taking the ball away. Turnovers dictate outcomes, and Diggs is really good at forcing turnovers. I hate that he gives up a lot of yards. But I love the way he attacks the ball and forces turnovers. That ability he has is unparalleled. His coaches and the fans might get frustrated with him, but he’s just going to be a guy who you take the good with the bad. But the good is really good.

To be a more complete corner and not just a ballhawk, Trevon Diggs has to do the little things. Not every throw his way is an opportunity for an interception. Interceptions have to be timed perfectly, they have to be preparation meeting an opportunity to get the ball. Diggs gives up a lot of big plays because of how aggressive he is in coverage. You do appreciate that he’s always looking for a chance for a takeaway. Not every situation is good for that, though.

Sometimes, you just have to play with caution. And that athleticism he has so much of will make him able — in the right situations — to take the ball away. That’s just about technique and perfecting your craft, and he needs to work on that as his career continues to evolve.

Analysis

Samari Rolle’s Top Ten Cornerbacks Heading Into 2022

When an All-Pro cornerback like Samari Rolle speaks, you listen.

The NFL is a full-fledged passing league, no doubt about it. When you are in a league that needs to stop that type of offense, having good corners is key. If you are lucky enough to have one of the top cornerbacks, then you have a leg up on other teams.

Listen in as Rolle breaks down who he sees as the top corners in the NFL today.

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At the end of the day, the only sure way to win a football game is by scoring more points than the opposing team. However, there are certain variables within a game that help you more consistently achieve that goal. Mantras like “winning the turnover battle” have been bandied about for decades as keys to […]

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