Last season, the Saints' cornerbacks accounted for seven of the team's nine interceptions. While it may seem good that they got the majority of the interceptions, nine is a very pitiful number. Especially since they had 26 back in 2009. With Steve Spagnuolo taking over as the defensive play caller, the corners and safeties are expected to grab more interceptions because they are playing more zone defense instead of man-to-man. This simply means that the defensive backs will be covering an area rather than a particular player.
Currently, there are seven cornerbacks on the Saints roster. After letting Tracy Porter leave for the Denver Broncos, the Saints were forced to bring in a few extra corners for depth. Jabari Greer has been sidelined due to a groin injury, but he will be back for the start of the season. Four out of the seven are veterans while the other three are rookies.
Make the jump to see my cornerback predictions for the Saints in 2012. Post your thoughts in the comment section below after you finish reading.
Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson, Johnny Patrick, Corey White
Jabari Greer is the team's best cornerback this year and is widely regarded as the best in the NFC South. Last year, Greer finished fourth on the team in total tackles with 71. He also defended 18 passes and had one interception. Hopefully that interception total will rise significantly this season.
Patrick Robinson is a rising star for the Saints. After his poor performance in 2010, he stepped up and became the starting corner opposite of Greer in 2011. He led the team with 4 interceptions and had 45 combined tackles. Last week versus the Texans, Robinson covered star receiver Andre Johnson for the entire first half, holding him to just two catches out of five targets.
Last year, corner Johnny Patrick was a minimal contributor because it was his rookie year, and he was injured for part of it. He began getting more action towards the end of the season though. This year, Patrick will be expected to be the true nickel cornerback.
Corey White was projected to be a safety, but the Saints converted him to the cornerback position. The fifth-round pick out of Samford caught the coaches' eyes with his athletic and physical play. He didn't really have to cover any primo receivers since he was in the Football Championship Subdivison of college football, but he obviously was able to prove he had talent. From his performance so far, White will be pushing Johnny Patrick for that third cornerback spot.
Marquis Johnson, Elbert Mack
Due to the lack of depth, Johnson will most likely make the final team. But the lack of depth isn't the only reason he will be around. Marquis has had a very impressive preseason. He has proven to be a sure tackler and has been great in coverage. It also doesn't hurt that he has spent the last two season with the Rams under Spagnuolo, the Saints new defensive coordinator.
Mack comes to the Saints after spending the last four season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was able to provide solid backup to the team, making 29 tackles and catching two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Elbert should make the team if he can keep up his steady impact.
Not much has been said about Nick Hixson. In fact, the undrafted rookie from Hillside, Michigan was cut from the Saints back in June, only to be resigned earlier this month. Hixson hasn't done anything special to improve his stock, so he probably won't be on the team much longer. Look for the Saints to pick up another veteran corner after the final round of cuts.
* * *
Now that you've read my take, what's yours?