The debate about who the best 'shutdown' NFL cornerback in the league is has been a very popular topic for quite some time now. During the 2000's era, players like Ty Law, Champ Bailey didn't publicly claim to be the best in the business because they let the media highlight their talents, but during the 2010's the attention has shifted towards players boasting. There are three candidates that may be able to take the title of the best lockdown cornerback in the NFL today, each player is on a perennial Superbowl contender and will matchup against some of the best competition in the NFL on a weekly basis. Here's a look at the candidates:
Revis has played against the Patriots while with he New York Jets every year during his NFL career except the 2012 season when he suffered a season ending knee injury, so he knows how special the opportunity is to switch sides to the team he has envied his entire career. Revis went head to head with Randy Moss (2007-2010) and Wes Welker (2007-2012) during their prime years and has battled against some of the premier wide receivers in the league for such a long time.
Darrelle Revis has totaled 344 tackles, 21 interceptions, 105 passes defensed and 5 forced fumbles along with three pick-sixes.
Revis has 'shut down' Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Chad Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, and so many more who were widely considered the premier receivers of the NFL during Revis' career with the Jets. Revis has held the title since the 08' NFL season in which Talib was an NFL rookie and Richard Sherman was still in college. Revis has all of the intangibles, respect and resume that make him the strongest candidate. Revis also has an experience advantage over Sherman and Talib.
Richard Sherman is more known for his public rants and tyraids than his stellar performances every week. Sherman talks a big game and backs up his trash talk with his performances and he is considered the best lockdown cornerback in the NFL today for good reason. Sherman won a Superbowl championship less than three months ago, after helping the Seattle Defense 'shutdown' the most lethal passing offense in NFL history to the tune of a 43-8 victory during Superbowl 48. He also made a pass deflection in the end zone that led to an interception that allowed the Seahawks to defeat the 49ers 23-17 during the NFC Championship.
Statistics: Sherman has totaled 138 tackles, 20 interceptions, 57 passed defensed and four forced fumbles, along with the Superbowl trophy to his young resume.
Sherman is known for his many public rants and tirades among the NFL. The only realistic factor that possibly works against Sherman is his mouth because he boasts about him being "best corner in the game" instead of letting the experts do that.
Sherman has also had experience with playing track & field during his time at Stanford University, giving him a bigger advantage over most opponents. Sherman also has a 6'3 frame making him one of the tallest cornerbacks in the NFL. His numbers speak for themselves and he has accomplished a lot in three years. Sherman and the Seahawks are currently working on a contract to make him the highest paid cornerback in NFL history.
3. Aqib Talib
Aqib Talib was traded from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Patriots in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick during the 2012 season, after the Patriots were struggling defensively. During his first game with the New England Patriots, a week 11 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, Talib struggled early, allowing then-rookie quarterback to complete big pass plays on him including a 20-yard touchdown. During the second quarter, Talib redeemed himself, intercepting a pass and returning it 60 yards for a touchdown.
Statistics: Talib has totaled 242 tackles, 23 interceptions, 70 passes defensed during his six-year NFL career.
During the 2013 season, Talib got off to an MVP-caliber start during the first six weeks, but a lingering hip injury sidelined Talib at various points during the season and he never returned to All-pro form as a result. Talib also single handedly 'shut down' tight end Jimmy Graham and held him to ZERO catches during a week 6 victory over the Saints.
Unlike the two premier candidates in Revis and Sherman, Aquib Talib has reached the AFC Championship game during his two seasons in New England and has NEVER completed half of the game. After Talib went down with an injury in the past two AFC title games, the Patriots were exposed severely and lost the game as a result.With the Patriots and Broncos likely to meet during the AFC Championship rematch during the 2014-15 season, I'm sure it wouldn't bother Patriots fans if Talib decided to miss any or all parts of the game vs. Tom Brady.
Talib has had a larger impact with the Patriots defense than Sherman and Revis have had with their respective teams. Although he sounded like a confused and controlled robot during his time with the Patriots. During a week-two victory over the New York Jets in 2013, Talib notched two interceptions including a game clinching interception over rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Talib had the game winning deflection in the end-zone that sparked debate about his value rising. During Revis' NFL career, the New York Jets' never finished worse than the top-ten ranked defense and Richard Sherman has been apart of the "legion of Boom" in Seattle while the team was a top-five unit as well. With Talib's covering skills being top notch, it allowed the Patriots' defense to mix up coverages, play more aggressive and blitz as a result without the fear of being exposed defensively.
The three valuable candidates have a lot to offer to their respective teams. The differences between the three are, Revis is the strongest candidate with the most experience, Sherman has helped his team win a super bowl this past year and Talib is great until he faces setbacks. With Sherman entering his fourth year with Seattle, Revis and Talib each have a lot to prove with their new teams with Talib joining the Broncos and Revis playing for the Patriots this upcoming season.