The cornerback position is one of the most difficult and lonely on the field.
The corners, as they are called, must defend the wide receivers. The receivers are the fastest, most graceful, and athletic players on the field. The receivers know where they are going on every play. The corners must defend these spectacular athletes by running backwards and not knowing which route to defend.
It requires speed, anticipation, and instantaneous change of direction to react to the receiver.
Not only do corners have one of the most challenging jobs physically, it requires a special mental and emotional makeup as well. When they are beat on a play they must come back with the same fearless mentality they always have.
Corners cannot perform well if they are afraid of being beaten. Many times, corners must be able to defend the pass without ever seeing the ball thrown. They must be able to pick up the ball in mid-flight with their eyes and have the reflexes to knock it down or catch it for the interception.
Interceptions are the corners’ most rewarding plays and most difficult to come by. The corners are also some of the smaller players on the field. They are however, pound for pound, the toughest.
Not only are great corners adept at defending the pass, they must also provide run support. At times, they must take on offensive lineman as blockers — giving up over 100 pounds in weight. They must shed blocks and make tackles on ball carriers who are running with a full head of steam and power. Little guys tackling big guys is a tough job.
When you have a corner who defends the pass and runs well, you have a special player. The corners are aligned on the widest players on the field. They’re out on the island as it is called. These players are the most important players next to pass rushers in building today’s defenses.