A.J. Green wrote a piece for the Players Tribune about the five toughest corners he has ever faced. Considering Green is entering his seventh season in the NFL, he has faced off against quite a few of the big name guys across the league. However, he sprinkles in a few surprises along the way. He also includes a funny little juggling story from his childhood that almost over shadows his incredible, first-hand insight as to what makes the best corners in the league so tough. You should check out Green’s story, but we’ve also summed it up here...
Green starts off with one of the best corners in the league, but he doesn’t describe him the way you usually see people talk about corners.
“But it’s more than just his size and straight-line speed that makes him great,” Green writes in describing Peterson. “The thing with Pat is how he’s able to stop and start. With a lot of bigger corners, you can get an advantage on them by exploiting their agility. For example, you can run a lot of double moves where you get way down in your breaks. You can try to make the game more about the stop-and-start. But with Pat, he’s going to get just as low as you on your breaks.”
Green also notes that the last time the two faced in 2015 he was held to four catches for 76 yards, but his one big play came when Peterson wasn’t on the field.
This one was almost to be expected given how familiar these two are with each other dating back to their days in college. Green again gives some insight to the nuances that makes Haden one of the biggest names in the NFL.
“Joe knows that you only got two seconds to do your work. This is something I think the average football fan might not totally understand,” Green writes. “Like, they see the ball snap, and then they watch the quarterback drop back, and then the ball is in the air, and it all seems like a pretty long time. But if you could see the game through a receiver’s eyes, you’d realize that he only has two seconds to do his work. You got that three-step drop — that’s your whole window. By the time the ball is in the air, you better have your separation already.”
It is really something we as fans take for granted. We might notice it if the commentators point it out, but otherwise we take for granted just how hard a receiver’s job is—especially against a guy like Haden, who is so adept at disrupting routes.
Easily the most surprising name on the list. I doubt anyone making a top five list of corners in the NFL is including Jenkins and not getting laughed out of town. The way Green describes playing Jenkins makes him sound worthy of it though.
“Janoris has a technique that’s completely different from Pat and Joe, because he uses a soft backpedal off the line,” Green says. “Pat and Joe want to dictate your route. Janoris is the opposite. He lets you do your thing and then he reads your hips and the quarterback’s eyes to decide when to jump on the route. His instincts are the best in the NFL, and he’s extremely quick. Extremely quick.”
He also notes how Jenkins usually has safety help which allows him to be even more aggressive on jumping routes. This is pretty high praise from one of the NFL’s best receivers to say Jenkins has the best instincts in the NFL.
Chris Harris Jr.
“This is the highest compliment I can give a football player — if you look at Chris on film once or twice, you might think, Alright, this guy is a pretty good corner, but what’s the big deal? But I can tell you from going against him that he’s one of the smartest, quickest corners in the game,” writes Green. “And when I say quick, I don’t mean the 40. I mean real game speed, which is a whole different thing. There’s a lot of corners who can run a 4.3 at the combine who can only run a 4.6 when it’s time to read and react in an actual game.”
He is right; that is a huge compliment with how many corners put in that extra work watching film. It’s also interesting how Green describes the difference between 40-yard dash speed and game speed, which is something I think we forget sometimes.
Green also mention how he could have just as easily put Aqib Talib here instead.
“For me, going against Richard is like going against a mirror of myself. Most corners have a weakness you can exploit — whether it’s speed, height, length, or whatever,” Green writes. “But Richard is just as big as you, and just as athletic, and he came up playing receiver, so if you try to throw a 50-50 jump ball on him, he can easily come down with it himself.”
Probably the biggest compliment Green could give is the “going against a mirror of myself” boast. However, Green doesn’t stop at the physical tools with Sherman. In fact, what makes Sherman one of the toughest for Green to go against, he says, is Sherman’s attitude.
“That’s another one of those little things that fans don’t always appreciate. I feel like when people talk about corners and receivers, it’s always about splash plays or interceptions,” Green pens. “But when I think about the toughest guys I go against, a lot of it is about how they’re bringing it on every single play. Richard comes to the line and is super aggressive at the point of attack on every play, whether it’s a run or a pass, and I think that sets the tone for the entire defense”
That is one of the best insights Green could give fans. I think too many people take for granted that some corners may take a few plays off making life easy on receivers, but something as little as consistently setting the edge on runs makes the difference between a good and a great corner.
Green ends his post in a simple fashion. Just like you would expect from him.
“That’s it. We did it. Follow your dreams, kids.”