Is Alterraun Verner a Shutdown Corner?

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The idea of a shutdown corner is one that is over-used, almost as much as the ridiculous "elite" badge that fans league-wide seem so quick to smack on their favorite players. Examining the league's rosters with an unbiased eye, there really have been few players over the past few years one could label a shutdown corner. With the NFL gone pass crazy, this isn't surprising.

Now it is entirely too early to place labels on any player this year, since the season is a mere month old at this point and there are still 12 games to play. But special attention deserves to be given to a Titan's Cornerback who had to battle to even keep his job in the offseason.

So far this year, Alterraun Verner is the highest rated corner in the league, and not due to a single performance either. Each week he has landed at the lauded No.1 spot. Last weekend against the Jets, Verner continued his dominance; not allowing a single completion and recording two impressive picks to go along with a fumble recovery to add to his rapidly rising turnover tally.

To date in 2013, Verner has allowed 118 yards and 0 Touchdowns. That breaks down to 29.5 yards allowed per game, as well as an average of an interception to go along with those ridiculously stingy numbers. Better still, QB's throwing against Verner boast a rating of just 12.9...those are Blaine Gabbert numbers. They are also 10+ points higher than second place holder Richard Sherman. (And as someone pointed out yesterday, the polar opposite of former Titans CB Cortland Finnegan, who is allowing a perfect QB rating of 158.3)

Also worth noting is his competition: so far this year Verner has been matched up on Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown (Steelers), Andre Johnson and De'Andre Hopkins (Texans), Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown (Chargers), and Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley (Jets). That is a solid mix of elite players and solid contributors alike. So far, it hasn't mattered who he's lined up against. I would also argue that his leaping INT in the Steelers match-up sparked the win. Without that play, the Titans are 2-2. That is the mark on an impact player.

Alterraun Verner has effectively taken away the right half off the field from opposing offenses, which in turn has allowed this Gregg Williams/Jerry Gray defense to be much more creative. The Titans are blitzing on a stunning 44% of their defensive plays, and the solid performance on the back end of this secondary is sustaining this level of pressure. They have yet to allow a big play off of it. ATV has been a big reason for Tennessee's defensive resurgence this year, and I will be shocked if the team fails to re-sign him following the season.

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