2015 NFL Free Agency Preview: Top 5 Cornerbacks

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Jan 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell (41) celebrates his second quarter interception against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Byron Maxwell

Pros: Maxwell is a relatively tall, physical cornerback who excels in a press-bail zone or press-man coverage scheme. He is still young – just turned 27 – and doesn’t have a lot of mileage on him, but has four years of experience in Pete Carroll’s defensive system in Seattle. He is already familiar with Raider DC Ken Norton Jr. from their time in Seattle together. Maxwell plays with great hands on the line of scrimmage and can turn and run deep with receivers, rarely getting burned or left trailing. He’s shown he can handle the pressure of being targeted, as teams generally avoided Richard Sherman last year and threw to his side.

Cons: Maxwell isn’t exactly a pure man-cover corner, and he hasn’t had to be in Seattle. He can press and sprint, but he’s not the type of cornerback who will follow a team’s #1 wideout all over the field. He hasn’t shown elite breaking and change of direction ability to cut off breaking patterns or follow routes away from the sidelines. And he has relatively little experience as a starting corner, having only 22 career starts (regular season and playoffs) despite being available for 57 games in his career.

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  • Scheme Fit: Maxwell’s best scheme fit is in a press scheme, which is probably what he’d be doing for Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton, Jr. in Oakland. Maxwell is a bigger, sturdier corner who has the straight-line speed to press and then head deep with a wideout or sprint to a deep third, but not much has been seen of his ability to play pure man-to-man coverage. He’s likely also a strong fit in pure cover 2 schemes playing a flat zone, because of his size and physicality.

    Market Value: Maxwell is one of the hottest names in free agency and is a former member of the Legion of Boom. He’ll get paid this offseason, perhaps overpaid for a player who hasn’t really been a starter for very long. Look for him to be signed to something like five years, $45M.

    Would he sign with the Raiders: probably. He’s definitely the type of corner who would work for Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton, Jr., and he knows Norton from Seattle. The Raiders can afford the price tag, especially on a front-loaded deal, and he’d be a for sure starter on one side while the three rookies get themselves sorted out. The Raiders will have competition, however, so they won’t be the only game in town.

    Next: 2015 FA Preview: CB #2, Brandon Flowers