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Ranking the AFC West: Cornerbacks

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With as much nickel as is played in the NFL these days, teams need three corners. There are some talented 3-man cornerback units in the AFC West.

1. Broncos - Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr, Bradley Roby

Aqib Talib may be a headache with his off the field issues. Dude shot himself this offseason. But on the field the headache is had by opposing offenses. Chris Harris is one of the most versatile corners in the league. He can play the boundary or in the slot and is equally smothering in either spot. Bradley Roby is a damn fine option as a nickel corner, giving the Broncos the best thee-man option in the division.

2. Chargers - Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, Casey Hayward

When Verrett was drafted, he was thought to be a good slot cornerback. He has since proven to be just a fantastic all-around corner. He’s quite possibly the best individual corner in the division. Flowers had a bit of a down year in 2015, but he is a former Pro Bowler who averaged about 3 interceptions per season his first seven years in the league. The overall unit gets a boost from the addition of Casey Hayward who was one of the top free agent corners on the market this offseason.

3. Raiders - Sean Smith, David Amerson, TJ Carrie

Speaking of top free agent corners, Smith was arguably THE best free agent corner this offseason. The 6-3 Smith comes over from the Chiefs, weakening their unit considerably. Amerson had a breakout season in 2015, knocking down a league leading 26 passes and earning himself a 4-year extension recently. TJ Carrie is a former starter for this team and is a very good slot corner. He has spent some time at safety as well, so taking on that nickel role is ideal for him. There’s no shame in landing third in the division. It’s a product of the overall high level of talent at the position.

4. Chiefs - Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines, KeiVarae Russell

Peters is the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year after tying for the league lead in interceptions (8) and passes defended (26). Gaines was the team’s third round pick in 2014. He started 5 games as a rookie and started all three games in which he appeared last season before being lost to an ACL injury. They are hoping he can step up and lessen the sting of losing Sean Smith to the Raiders in free agency. Smith was a lock down corner for them, which is part of the reason Peters saw a league leading 137 targets which gave him the opportunities to put up his big numbers. Russell is the team’s rookie third round pick.

Also see AFC West rankings for:

Running back
Wide receivers
Tight end
Offensive tackles
Offensive guards
Defensive tackles
Defensive ends
Outside linebackers
Inside linebackers