Ike Taylor is no stranger to being on an island. The former Steelers cornerback helped Pittsburgh win two Super Bowls during his 12-year career. For the second straight year, Taylor's weekly series will feature one pertinent cornerback on "Ike's Island," where he breaks down the player's on-field play and significance heading into the coming week. In addition, he lists his updated top-10 cornerback rankings and top-three CB duos.
Featured on Ike's Island this week ...
Scandrick enters his ninth NFL season (all with the Cowboys), and he serves as one of the leaders of Rod Marinell's defense. The 5-foot-10 corner is solid in press coverage, tackles well and brings a lot of experience to the secondary. One thing that gets Scandrick in trouble, though, is his supbar transitions coming out of breaks.
Carroll, a first-year Cowboy, has all the intangibles needed to be an above average cornerback in the league, but he lacks the most important thing: consistency. He had a good 2016 campaign in Philly -- the only season in which he's made 16 starts in his seven-year career -- and hopefully, he can carry the confidence gained last year over to Dallas.
The Dallas cornerbacks are under a lot of pressure right out of the gate. Odell Beckham Jr., who's battling an ankle sprain, and Brandon Marshall are huge talents on the perimeter, and Sterling Shepard's Jarvis Landry-like skill level in the slot presents matchup problems for the Cowboys' secondary. The Cowboys realize the Giants' pass catchers will get their catches, but they can only afford to have their cornerbacks bend, not break. Carroll and Scandrick must play close to Beckham, tackling him immediately after the catch to prevent him from breaking big plays. For this unit to have a successful outing, it can give up yards but only one touchdown.
Week 1 cornerback rankings: My top 10
I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone that Sherman sits here after what he did in 2016: He allowed 44 catches on 85 targets for 624 yards, two TDs, four INTs and a 64.0 passer rating against. He was great in coverage and shut down top receivers weekly. Sherman does so many things well and sets the standard for all other CBs. He has the attitude, ball skills, awareness and vision, and the one thing that puts him above my No. 2 corner, Patrick Peterson, is his ability to tackle.
Expect Aaron Rodgers to steer clear of Sherman on Sunday. Since 2012, the Packers QB has targeted Sherman just 11 times in five meetings, while targeting all other Seahawks corners 70 times during that span. In those five games, which includes the postseason, Sherman has allowed eight receptions but zero touchdowns and has picked off Rodgers once.
*Side note: Darrelle Revis was my top corner in last year's Week 1 rankings, before falling off the list completely by Week 3. I don't see a drop-off like that happening to Sherman.* </content:power-ranking>
Some say Harris lacks the ideal size, but his near perfect technique and unbelievable footwork put him among the premier corners in the league. He's so good in and out of transition and has no wasted movement. Harris has the ability to travel with No. 1 receivers but doesn't, because the Broncos have so much depth at the position. Don't be surprised if Harris finishes the year at the top of this list.
Peters set the league on fire since his first day in the NFL, and no one's put the flame out yet. He's young and confident, with the best instincts of any corner in the league. Peters' consistency in his first two seasons -- 14 INTs, most in the NFL in that span -- is so impressive. He followed his Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign with another stellar performance in 2016, allowing 51 catches on 89 targets for 652 yards, three TDs, six INTs and a 63.5 passer rating against. Peters, who's unafraid of getting beat and has a short memory, is a savage corner who can play in any system. My Week 1 prediction: Peters picks off Tom Brady.
Jenkins proved to be worth the money in his first year in the Big Apple, allowing 37 catches on 81 targets for 425 yards, two TDs, three INTs and a 54.8 passer rating against. There's no doubt Jackrabbit is in his prime, and practicing against Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall and the rest of the Giants' pass catchers elevates his play. Jenkins opens the season against Dez Bryant and the Cowboys, which shouldn't be too much for him to handle after looking at last year's results. Jenkins allowed only one reception on eight targets to Dez in 2016, and he forced a fumble after the lone catch. Expect a similar result Sunday.
Norman is capable of being one of the top three corners in the league -- we've seen glimpses of dominance in his last two seasons -- but his actions continually cause flags to make their way to the turf. Norman drew 14 penalties in 2016, the most of any player in the league. But this guy is all attitude, and I'm interested to see what he does in his second season in Washington. Norman is a turnover machine -- using Charles Tillman's "Peanut punch" move several times last year -- and he's going to need to ball out with the offenses he'll face in the NFC East.
An older version of Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib understands route combinations and brings a relentless attitude to the Broncos' D. He brings everything to the table, but I wonder if speed will be an issue for the 31-year-old. It'll be interesting to see how he does in his 10th season or how many more years he'll play corner. I could see him moving to safety in the next couple years before calling it quits.
Rhodes broke out in 2016 (five picks, a 39.2 passer rating against) and allowed the second-lowest completion percentage (48.8) of any defensive player with a minimum of 60 targets. I expect nothing less this year. Like Patrick Peterson, Rhodes has a LeBron James-type build and uses his size, speed and what he's learned from veteran Terence Newman to dominate opponents. The one red flag I have on him is he cost the Vikings 113 yards from penalties last season. If he can keep the penalties in check, Rhodes could take over the league.
Jalen Ramsey is coming off an impressive rookie campaign that landed him among my top 10 cornerbacks at the end of 2016. In coverage, Ramsey allowed 48 catches on 90 targets for 703 yards, two TDs, two INTs and a 68.0 passer rating against. He adjusted to the speed of the NFL and balled out in the final stretch of the season, recording 13 passes defensed and two INTs from Weeks 13 through 17 after only having one pass defensed and zero picks up to that point. Believe that he'll pick up where he left off in his sophomore campaign. </content:power-ranking>
After the breakout year Bouye had a year ago, which helped him land a five-year, $67.5 million deal with the Jags, I can't leave him out of the top 10. He's got great feet and good vision, but he needs to work on his hands. Not that I have room to talk ...
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Bradley Roby, Broncos; Darius Slay, Detroit Lions; Jason Verrett, Los Angeles Chargers; Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons; Casey Hayward, Chargers; Brent Grimes, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; and Vernon Hargreaves, Buccaneers.
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WEEK 1 CORNERBACK DUOS: MY TOP THREE
Like I said back in May, this tandem is going to be the talk of the league in 2017. We saw Ramsey improve throughout his rookie season, prompting the defensive staff to trust him in covering the opponent's best receiver. He fared well and should continue to improve in Year 2. Pair Ramsey's play with Bouye, who also broke out last year, and the rest of the AFC South is in trouble.
*Next up: at Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.* </content:power-ranking>
Denver has been home to some of the premier cornerbacks in the league for several years now, but I just have this feeling the Jags' duo will pass them up in 2017. Harris and Talib complement each other well, as Talib's leadership and attitude drive the secondary and Harris' footwork is second to none. Quarterbacks must think twice when facing these guys.
*Next up: vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 10:20 p.m. ET on Monday.* </content:power-ranking>
Jenkins absolutely dominated for the Giants last season, and Apple surprised me in his rookie season. With a year under his belt, Apple should improve and will have plenty of opportunities to make plays against his NFC East opponents.
*Next up: at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.* </content:power-ranking>
Cornerback tandems that just missed the cut: Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward, Los Angeles Chargers; Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman (or Trae Waynes), Minnesota Vikings; Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons.