Jason Verrett was the 25th player and fourth cornerback selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. He had an outstanding collegiate career with TCU but was dinged in pre-draft evaluations for his height and injury history.
"Little" guys that come into the league with injury histories usually continue to add to that injury history.— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) April 28, 2014
For that reason, Verrett worries me.— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) April 28, 2014
The Chargers were not swayed by such talk and were happy to get a player of Verrett's caliber so late in the first round. His 2014 season featured both his immense talent and his tendency to get injured. The Week 6 game against the Oakland Raiders ended with one of the finest interceptions you will ever see. Unfortunately, Verrett also tore his left labrum earlier in that game. He tried to play for two more weeks before going on Injured Reserve.
Some took the opportunity to pat themselves on the back:
The following season, Verrett was able to play in 14 games, intercepted three passes, and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
USA Today recently published their Top 10 Corners in the league (full list here), and the Chargers star corner was near the top at #3.
Here's the full description:
Our first surprise on the list. Verrett may not be a recognizable name for casual fans, but that has nothing to do with his game. On the field, it’s difficult to find a weakness. Off the field, his weakness is clear: He can’t seem to stay healthy.
Of the four games I studied for Verrett, he failed to finish two of them due to injury. The 24-year-old has missed 12 games over the first two seasons of his career. That’s a problem, but not one we’ll concern ourselves with for this list, which is based solely on skill set.
The Chargers play a good mix of zone and man coverage, and Verrett holds up just fine no matter the assignment. Man coverage is where he really shines, though. Verrett has top-end speed and the kind of agility you’ll find in a comic book hero. Even at 5-10, 188 pounds, Verrett can hold up against bigger receivers, too. That combination of skills allows him to stick with receivers of all sizes and abilities.
Verrett can compete with big receivers in jump ball situations: [click the link above for the clip]
And he can stay tight to the league’s smoothest route-runners: [click the link above for the clip]
If the Shutdown Corner is dying, Verrett has the best chance of reviving it.
The Chargers and their fans have to be excited about the future for Jason Verrett. Two seasons after he was the fourth cornerback selected in the draft, he is the third best cornerback in the entire NFL. That's a win no matter how you slice it. Tom Telesco, John Spanos, and the rest of the front office deserve a ton of credit for this pick.
USA Today's Steven Ruiz noted that the explained that the rankings were based primarily on film study, so stats and reputation had a reduced role from what you normally see in such lists. Ruiz also made the case that the term shutdown corner has been thrown around so much that it has lost its meaning, and that the shutdown corner could cease to exist given the changes in the NFL over the last decade. His assertion that Verrett could become one anyway is high praise indeed.
What do you think about the list? Did USA Today get things mostly right or mostly wrong?