By Michael Hurley, CBS dangolka
dangolka (CBS) — Does the NFL Prime 100 checklist actually matter? Nicely, no. Nevertheless it additionally doesn’t not matter, you recognize?
If you recognize, you recognize.
However, even whether it is largely a recognition contest greater than the rest, making the checklist nonetheless possible feels fairly good for a soccer participant. In a league with 1,700 or so gamers at a dozen or so totally different positions, touchdown on that high 100 checklist is most positively an honor; it’s simply not price getting up in arms when sure issues on the checklist don’t make a lot sense.
In any occasion, there was only one member of the 2019 Patriots who ended up on the checklist. And although that quantity was low, the rating was fairly excessive, as cornerback Stephon Gilmore got here in at No. 9.
The 2019 Defensive Participant of the Yr, Gilmore has risen to the standing of being arguably one of the best cornerback within the recreation.
The accompanying commentary from teammates and opponents — even from these inside the AFC East — was glowing.
“When you may have a shutdown nook, you at all times hear from him that he’s a shutdown nook. However Steph doesn’t say a complete lot. … He takes plenty of pleasure in not giving up something, whether or not it’s a walkthrough, whether or not it’s observe, and clearly within the recreation. … It’s been enjoyable to see him turn into one of the best nook in soccer.”
–Matthew Slater, Patriots particular groups captain
“His tape speaks for itself. His numbers converse for itself. And he’s a man that I watch. Once they performed Cincinnati, he made a pick-six enjoying Cowl zero and enjoying exterior leverage. You understand how onerous that’s? I feel he’s in all probability the one man doing that. I texted him after the sport, I used to be like, ‘Bro, you motivated me in the present day.’”
–Tre’Davious White, Payments CB
“His approach … his approach is flawless. Staying in entrance of a receiver, being aggressive when that you must be aggressive. He’s a ball hawk.”
–Xavier Rhodes, Colts CB
“He’s a kind of DBs that you just sit again and also you’re like, ‘How do I get open? How do I beat him?’ As a result of he’s simply so athletic and [has] an unbelievable soccer IQ.”
–Braxton Berrios, Jets WR
“He’s simply, he’s fluid. You might attempt to do little issues and he simply stays on high of you. He’s like a giant blanket.”
–Robby Anderson, Jets WR
“He erased plenty of guys on the market, man. He was on the market competing at a excessive degree. He made so many performs, man.”
–Darius Slay, Eagles CB
“That comes from expertise. Numerous cornerbacks are usually not in a position to try this. He watches movie and is aware of as soon as one goes inside, two gotta be popping out, and he baited the quarterback. He stayed on him for some time, after which he backed off him. That’s why he took a giant leap this yr.”
–Allen Hurns, Dolphins WR
Gilmore intercepted a career-high six passes in 2019 whereas additionally tying a career-high with 20 passes defensed — matching his identical quantity from the 2018 season. He scored the primary two touchdowns of his profession in 2019, scoring one in Miami and one in Cincinnati. All of that got here after an amazing 2018 season, which ended with Gilmore making a game-changing interception within the fourth quarter of Tremendous Bowl LIII. (Gilmore got here in at No. 22 on the “Prime 100” checklist a yr in the past.)
Slater and Ben Watson pointed particularly to Gilmore’s diving interception whereas overlaying Amari Cooper as an actual spotlight in a season filled with them.
“I imply, it’s onerous to intercept a shallow crosser,” Slater stated. “That will’ve been a tricky catch for a receiver, not to mention a DB. So I feel that was a play that form of summed up the yr he’s had.”
It was that kind of labor that led to Cooper ending that recreation with zero catches.
As for summing up his personal physique of labor, Gilmore stored it easy.
“Problem guys each play,” Gilmore defined. “And make it onerous on them. Shut guys down this yr. That’s what I did.”
Whereas Gilmore doesn’t have the braggadocious persona of, say, a Darrelle Revis or a Richard Sherman, he’s by no means missing for confidence. When requested if he needed to choose the No. 1 participant in the complete NFL, Gilmore didn’t hesitate: “Umm. I might choose myself.”
9 cornerbacks made the Prime 100 checklist, with Gilmore the highest-ranked.
CORNERBACKS ON TOP 100 LIST
92. Darius Slay, Lions
86. Marlon Humphrey, Ravens
76. Marshon Lattimore, Saints
60. Logan Ryan, Titans
53. Marcus Peters, Rams/Ravens
47. Tre’Davious White, Payments
37. Jalen Ramsey, Jaguars/Rams
28. Richard Sherman, 49ers
9. Stephon Gilmore, Patriots
Gilmore’s spot within the high 10 was clearly well-earned. Right here’s what that high 10 regarded like, with a minor controversy sitting on the No. Four spot.
10. Derrick Henry, Titans RB
9. Stephon Gilmore, Patriots CB
8. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans WR
7. George Kittle, 49ers TE
6. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers RB
5. Michael Thomas, Saints WR
4. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs QB
3. Aaron Donald, Rams DT
2. Russell Wilson, Seahawks QB
1. Lamar Jackson, Ravens QB
Mahomes’ rating was controversial, positive, however he did miss a few video games attributable to damage, whereas Lamar Jackson had his MVP season in Baltimore. At that time anyway, it’s splitting hairs.
One factor that did stand out on the checklist from a New England perspective was that Gilmore was one in every of solely two Patriots gamers from the 2019 season to make the checklist. The opposite was Tom Brady at No. 14, who made the checklist extra on status than efficiency from final season.
Candidates who possible ought to have acquired some recognition could be security Devin McCourty, linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, and operating again James White. Whereas the most important snub of all was indisputably Julian Edelman.
The receiver carried the Patriots’ offense, catching 100 passes for 1,117 yards and 6 touchdowns. Regardless of defenses understanding that Tom Brady solely wished to go to No. 11 with the ball, Edelman nonetheless produced, setting a profession excessive in receiving yards. He additionally confirmed off his arm some extra, throwing a landing in a 17-10 win at Philadelphia and ending the season with some stable passing stats: 2-for-2, 47 yards, TD.
Regardless of a formidable age 33 season, Edelman landed simply exterior the Prime 100 checklist, at No. 101.
“He’s one of many full guys, man,” Tre’Davious White stated of Edelman. “Going in opposition to a man like that, you gotta have the ability to cowl the entire discipline as a defensive again — from the A niche to the deep third.”
After all, the voting on this checklist yearly is something however scientific. Some gamers say they’ve by no means been requested to take part within the vote, whereas others say they simply vote for his or her teammates and mates. Nonetheless, it at all times serves as a stable offseason reminder of what happened the yr earlier than, and what would possibly lie forward within the upcoming season.
You’ll be able to electronic mail Michael Hurley or discover him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.