Pro Football Focus is back and this time they have tackled the task of ranking the NFL's cornerback corps, from first to worst.
The rankings begin with the 2015-16 defending champions, but the Broncos may take a hit if Aqib Talib is pegged by the commissioner by his recent mishap in Dallas. The Cardinals and Redskins round off the top three, in large part due to Patrick Peterson and newly signed Redskin, Josh Norman. To a bit of a surprise, the AFC East has two of the top 5 cornerback groups according to PFF, with the Patriots and Bills landing at 4th and 5th, respectively. Personally, the Patriots played well last year at cornerback, but #4 still seems a tad bit high. The Bills have a commendable duo with Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby, and their top five ranking seems a bit more justified.
And what about our Dolphins? Well, the good news is that they aren't last!
PFF has the Dolphins all the way down at #31, and only one spot above the Josh Norman-less Carolina Panthers. They have this to say about Miami:
A first year outside the safe haven of Seattle didn’t go well for Byron Maxwell, and after being traded by Philadelphia, he must start again in Miami. Maxwell still had a nose for the football in Philly (intercepting or breaking up at least 10 passes for the third year in a row), and could very well share starting duties this season with Howard, who surrendered a completion on less than 45 percent of the 162 passes targeted into his coverage over the final two years of his career at Baylor.
Honestly, this seems about right... Miami's cornerbacks are young and very inexperienced and won't get any credit until they prove it.
While outsiders may call Maxwell a downgrade compared to Grimes, we all saw the decline that Brent Grimes showed last season. Miami tried to get him to take a pay cut, but when he refused it was an easy decision to release the 32-year old corner who set to make $8 million in 2016. They replaced him by taking a chance on Byron Maxwell who despite an off year in Philly, is younger and better fit for Vance Joseph's system. If Maxwell plays anything like the cornerback who blanketed receivers opposite of Richard Sherman in Seattle in 2014, then Miami made out with a steal.
The Dolphins also expect Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain to build off their impressive rookie seasons. Newcomer Xavien Howard was added in the second round to compete with Lippett for a starting job. Other names to watch that were not included in PFF's analysis would be Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Tyler Patmon.
The good news is that they may be the youngest corner group in the entire league and should have nowhere to go but up. It remains to be seen if Miami will test free agency to add some veteran competition.
To see PFF rank the cornerback groups 1-32 click here.