In the coming years, a great safety will be more valuable than a great corner.
I cannot remember whether I heard the basic outline for thislayed out on an ESPN Podcast or on WGR yesterday morning, but I got into the conversation with a few friends, and foundthat I support the arguement pretty strongly.
The arguement proceeds as follows. Years ago, when the Redskins added an HB into the backfield, people thought they were nuts. Years later, how many teams play with a fullback as a staple in their offense? When the Saints rolled out as much spread as they did several years back, people thought it may not last because teams had to run the ball a certain amount to be successful. Guess not.
Now look at how the league has transitioned to a passing league. Between rule changes to protect the QB and WRs downfield, multiple WR sets, and the evolution of the TE position (Hernandez, Davis, Graham, Gronk, Finley, Petigrew, etc...), corners are being greatly devalued. How many true "shutdown" corners are there in the league, anyway? One. And again, with the multiple WR sets and mismatches that now abound with a new breed of TEs, a great corner can be schemed around.
A better move, then, is to grab a safety that can play the run extremely effectively and cover TEs. This player is multi-functional in the defense and is much more difficult to scheme around. I believe that this will prove more and more true in the coming years as teams continue to use multiple WR sets and the impact of the TE in offenses increases.
This is not to say that corners are irrelevant. Quite the opposite, they are still very important, but the odds of getting that true shutdown corner are slim to none, and thus the position may not warrant as high of a draft pick as it once did. Even then, they can be easily schemed out of the game if a team has more than one effective WR, which most do. With that in mind, I like Mark Barron a whole lot. What do people think of Barron v. Kirkpatrick/Gilmore?