Richard Sherman as ninth best cornerback ever is acceptable. However…

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 02: Richard Sherman /
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I should point out that Richard Sherman’s selection was not by acclamation, but by former Dallas Cowboy personnel guru Gil Brandt. I believe Brandt has been around since football was played with actual pigs, so he’s seen a lot of players. Generally, he knows his stuff. For proof, take a look at who he selected among the all-time best safeties.

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I have no quarrel with Richard Sherman placing among the top ten cornerbacks of all time. He’s the only active player in the top fifteen. He’ll likely place even higher at the end of his career, even including the inevitable fall off. He should have quite a few excellent years left.

No, my issue isn’t with Sherman at nine. My concern is with who Brandt selected at number one.

The perennially overrated Deion Sanders

That’s right, overrated. Over. Rated. Was he a great cornerback? Sure, I can see that he makes the top ten. Number one? Please.

First, let’s separate the Neon One‘s skill sets. As a return man, he was excellent, no doubt. Is he better than this group, though?

Player PR TD PR Avg KR TD KR Avg
Gale Sayers 2 14.5 6 30.6
Billy White Shoes Johnson 6 11.8 2 23.9
Eric Metcalf 10 9.8 2 20.8
Rick Upchurch 8 12.1 0 24.8
Desmond Howard 8 11.9 0 22.2
Devin Hester 14 11.7 5 24.9
Deion Sanders 6 10.4 3 22.7

Sayers, Johnson, Metcalf and Hester were demonstrably better. That’s hardly a knock. But where Sanders places among the great return men is immaterial. When I’m judging cornerbacks, I don’t care about the player’s return skills. I want to know how well they play defense, period. I want to know how well they defend passes, how well they play the run. Can they tackle?

Richard Sherman hits. Sanders? Not that much

Do a Google search on “Richard Sherman hits”. Or Bing or Yahoo, if you’re one of those crazy people. The first result: “Richard Sherman HUGE HIT on Jared Goff“. The first ten results are all for huge hits Sherman made (more than one is for the hit on Goff).

Now repeat that task, but replace Deion Sanders for Richard Sherman. Your first result is bit different from Sherman’s: “Hunter Smith hitting Deion Sanders“. That’s right, the number one result for hits for the “best cornerback ever” is him getting punked by a punter. The top ten results for “Deion Sanders hits” include zero actual hits by this defender. No tackles at all. Not one.

That simply proves that people search for Sherman laying people out, and don’t look for Sanders doing the same. Why, you ask?