Richard Sherman, in the recent Sports Illustrated article on him, claimed that he could name every defensive back taken before him in the 2011 NFL draft. After reading that, I thought I'd look up those cornerbacks. Cornerbacks whom teams from around the league rated higher the Sherman at the time.
I was surprised. That way Sherman talks about it, I was expecting a horrible crop of cornerbacks who are already out of the league. And while there is your usual share of busts, most notably Ras-I Dowling, this is actually a pretty solid cornerback class. Of course, Sherman should have right up there with Patrick Peterson as a first rounder, but many of the cornerbacks taken before him are regulars in the league, including two other fifth rounders (Skrine and Thomas).
I decided to compile the list, along with providing a ittle blurb on each player. I also gave a hindsight grade to each pick, based on both the player's performance and where they were taken in the draft.
Here is the list of each cornerback taken before Richard Sherman in the 2011 NFL Draft:
Name College Round Pick(Overall) Team Grade
Patrick Peterson LSU 1 5(5) Arizona A
The only player on this list whom you could make a case for being better than Sherman (mainly for his punt return skills), Patrick Peterson has absolutely dominated since he entered the league in 2011. During his rookie season, he had 64 tackles, two interceptions, tied the record for most punt return touchdowns in a single season (4) and was selected to the 2012 Pro Bowl. He then followed up his star rookie season with seven interceptions in 2012. Peterson is a player to be reckoned with.
Prince Amukamara Nebraska 1 19(19) NY Giants B-
A top player coming out of college, Amukamara was sidelined for nine games his rookie season with a broken left foot. When he returned though, he was able to tally 12 tackles, an interception and win Super Bowl XLVI with the New York Giants. In 2012, he missed another three games but had 53 tackles on the year. In the first game of the 2013 season, he was knocked out with a concussion versus the Dallas Cowboys.
Jimmy Smith Colorado 1 27(27) Baltimore B
In Smith's rookie season, he served as the Raven's third cornerback and had 20 tackles with two interceptions. He then followed up that performance with 34 tackles (but no interceptions) his sophomore season and was the cornerback covering Michael Crabtree during the controversial, fourth down play in the final minutes of Super Bowl XLVII.
Ras-I Dowling Virginia 2 1(33) New England D+
Dowling played in only two games during his rookie season witht the Patriots as he injured his hip in the second game of the season. He was subsequently placed on Injured Reserve. In his second year, he played in seven games (with seven tackles) before being placed on IR again with a torn thigh muscle. Prior to the 2013 season, he was cut by the Patriots and passed through waivers unclaimed.
Aaron Williams Texas 2 2(34) Buffalo B
A cornerback in college, Williams was converted to strong safety by the Bills. During his rookie season, he finished with 32 tackles and an interception in nine games. In 2012, he had 32 tackles in eleven games.
Marcus Gilchrist Clemson 2 18(50) San Diego B+
Gilchrist became the Chargers nickel corner his rookie year and ended up playing in 14 games. He finished with 34 tackles and two interceptions. His sophomore season was even more successful, playing all 16 games and compiling 59 tackles and a sack. Gilchrist was moved to strong safety for the 2013 season.
Brandon Harris Miami (FL) 2 28(60) Houston C
Harris played in seven games his rookie season (with only three tackles) and followed that up with eight games his sophomore season (with 14 tackles). He is currently a backup corner on the Texans' 53-man roster.
Chris Culliver South Carolina 3 16(80) San Francisco B-
Culliver played in every game his rookie season, finishing with 35 tackles and an interception. In 2012, he was the49ers nickle corner and again didn't miss any games. He ended up with 47 tackles and a two interceptions, although he played poorly in Super Bowl XLVII. During training camp, Culliver tore his ACL and is out for the 2013 season.
Demarcus Van Dyke Miami (FL) 3 17(81) Oakland D
Van Dyke ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, the third-fastest ever, so naturally, the Raiders drafted him. During his rookie season though, Van Dyke played in 14 games but wasn't used much, finishing with only 13 tackles and an interception. He was released after the season. Van Dyke then signed with the Steelers and again was hardly used, finishing with only three tackles in nine games. During the off-season, Van Dyke was waived/injured by the Steelers and was later waived with an injury settlement. He is currently a free agent.
Johnny Patrick Louisville 3 24(88) New Orleans C
Patrick played in nine games (with six tackles) his rookie season with the Saints. In 2012, he played in 15 games, finishing with 24 tackles. During the off-season, he was cut by the Saints and signed by the Chargers the next day.
Shareece Wright USC 3 25(89) San Diego C
Wright appeared in only seven games as a rookie, making four tackles. In 2012, he had a stellar preseason but hurt his foot making a tackle on the opening kickoff of the Chargers' season opener. He missed the next six games but was able to return and become a key special teams contributor the final nine games, finishing with seventeen tackles.
Curtis Marsh Utah State 3 26(90) Philadelphia D-
Marsh played the final seven games of his rookie season and finished with two tackles. In 2012, he played in 15 games and ended up with 12 tackles. Prior to the start of the 2013 season, Marsh was released by the Eagles.
Curtis Brown Texas 3 31(95) Pittsburgh C
Brown played in twelve games his rookie season (with 14 tackles), 15 games in 2012 (with 28 tackles) and is currently on the Steelers' active roster, making a tackle in the 2013 season opener.
Brandon Hogan West Virginia 4 1(98) Carolina F
Hogan was placed on PUP list due to a knee injury during prior to the 2011 season, but was taken off in November and ended up playing in three games with three tackles. During the 2012 season, the Panthers waived him off the Injured Reserve. Hogan is currently a free agent.
Chimdi Chekwa Ohio State 4 16(113) Oakland D+
Chekwa played in four games (with one start) his rookie season, finishing with eight tackles. In 2012, played in only three games with four tackles. He is currently on the Raiders' active roster and played in the 2013 season opener.
Jalil Brown Colorado 4 21(118) Kansas City D
Brown played in 14 games his rookie year and compiled eight tackles. In 2012, he played in 15 games (with two starts) and finished with 25 tackles. Brown was waived by the Chiefs in the final round of cuts prior to the 2013 season and is currently a free agent.
Rashad Carmichael Virginia Tech 4 30(127) Houston C-
Carmichael did not play a single game during the 2011 season with the Texans. In 2012, he played in nine games with six tackles. Carmichael is currently on the Texans' practice squad.
Cortez Allen Citadel 4 31(128) Pittsburgh B
Allen played in 15 games as a rookie, compiling fifteen tackles as a key contributor on nickel and dime defenses and special teams. In 2012, he played in 15 games (with three starts) and finished the year with 55 tackles, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. In the 2013 season opener, Allen went down with an ankle injury.
Davon House New Mexico State 4 34(131) Green Bay C+
House played in only two games as a rookie (with one tackle), but became a key contributor in 2012. He played in nine games (with five starts) and finished with 26 tackles and a sack. He was also named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for a blocked punt (which was returned for a touchdown) in a week eight win over the Jaguars.
Buster Skrine Chattanooga 5 6(137) Cleveland A-
Skrine has played in every game since entering the NFL, slowly building up playing time until he eventually started six games for the Browns 2012. He had 18 tackles and an interception his rookie season, but finished last year with an impressive 85 tackles. During the first game of the 2013 season, Skrine had seven tackles.
Brandon Burton Utah 5 8(139) Minnesota C
In two seasons with the Vikings, Burton played in 14 games (with one start) and made eight tackles. He was released in the final cuts prior to the 2013 season and was signed by the Buffalo Bills the next day. He made one tackle in the 2013 season opener.
Joshua Thomas Buffalo 5 12(143) Dallas B+
Thomas was cut by the Cowboys prior to the start of the 2011 season, but was soon signed by the Carolina Panthers. He played nine games his rookie year (with one tackle), but became a key part of the Panthers defense his sophmore season, where he played in all 16 games (with four starts) and finished the season with 35 tackles. Thomas is currently the Panthers starting LCB and made five tackles in their week one loss to the Seahawks.
Roderick Issac Middle Tennessee State 5 16(147) Jacksonville F
Issac played in three games, with zero tackles, during his rookie season with the Jaguars. He was released prior to the 2012 season. This past July, he was assigned to the Tampa Bay Storm of the AFL before being reassigned 16 days later. While with the Storm, he made five tackles.
Richard Sherman Stanford 5 23(154) Seattle A+
Well, you know what he's done.
During his rookie season, Sherman played in 16 games (with ten starts) and finished with 55 tackles and four interceptions. In 2012, he started every game of the season and finished with 64 tackles and eight interceptions, all while invoking the ire of practically everyone who isn't associated with the Seahawks.
Oh, and as mentioned before, he made the cover of Sports Illustrated.
(Also, Byron Maxwell was drafted in the sixth round and he's not too shabby either)