The desired cornerback in the NFL seems to be growing every year. Teams want their defensive backs to be big in order to be able to compete with players like Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant. When you try to combat these types of playmaking receivers you get cornerbacks like Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, Brandon Browner, and Aqib Talib just to name a few. GM's want their receivers to be 6'2"-6'4", which is causing the size of the cornerbacks to get bigger.

So is Belichick looking at undersized receivers with the idea in mind that they can out play these bigger corners with their quickness and route running ability, rather then try to compete with them by throwing jump balls, playing right into the bigger corners skill set.

Want an example? Look at what happened in the Super Bowl. Richard Sherman (6'3"), Kam Chancellor (6'3"), Byron Maxwell (6'1"). Matched up against Brandon Lafell (6'2"), Julian Edelman (5'10"), Danny Amendola (5'11"), and Shane Vereen (5'9"). These four receivers accounted for 29 receptions for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. And what do all of these players do well? They are quick, shifty, slippery and managed to make the best and biggest secondary in the league look like they have never tackled before.

Teams have tried to counter the Legion of Boom with bigger receivers, but ultimately when you leave it up to a 50/50 jump ball you are not going to have good odds for long. But when you can increase those odds in your favor by guaranteeing the ball gets into your receivers hands with precision route running, you give yourself a chance to win the game. And that is exactly what Belichick did to exploit the oversized corners from Seattle.

So why would Belichick try to get bigger then these corners. It is an endless game, when the way to beat them is with quickness. Now you may say that Brandon Lafell at 6'2" is a big receiver? Yes, he has the build of a big receiver but he is not good in jump ball situations. His best asset is his route running ability which allows him to get bigger corners turned around, twisted and ultimately lost in coverage. So Lafell can run routes, but what about Gronkowski? He is a massive force. Yes, he absolutely is massive and completely uncoverable, which is why every team needs one big man on offense. Primarly for the red zone where the field becomes condensed and tougher to complete passes. But it is a smart move to load your team up with quick little receivers to run up and down the field and tire out those big corners.

Top 5 CB 2015 draft prospects (According to Mike Mayock):
Trae Waynes (6'0")
Jalen Collins (6'1")
Marcus Peters (6'0")
Kevin Johnson (6'0")
Byron Jones (6'1")
PJ Williams (6'0")

All of these incoming cornerbacks are 6 feet or taller, illustrating the desire for taller cornerbacks wanted throughout the league. So with the growing need and desire for bigger corners, Belichick is wise to considering going undersized at the receiver position while making up for it in speed and quickness.

Patriots brought in Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder for a visit. Crowder comes in at 5'8" 185 pounds, but has shown the ability to burst out of cuts, and gain separation from defenders underneath. Has the toughness to compete all over the field despite being undersized. With that size, burst, and separation ability it would be tough for a 6'1" cornerback to get his hands on him and bring him to the ground.

Another wide receiver that they brought in for a visit, Malcolme Kennedy out of Texas A&M. 5'11". Runs a 4.47. Another shifty receiver that could give these bigger corners in the league a tough time.

Most recently the Patriots worked out South Carolina running back Mike Davis. He comes in at 5'9", and shows great hands out of the backfield with the top end speed to run away from bigger, slower defenders.

The biggest thing with all of these smaller, quicker receivers is that they are quick enough. Just quick enough to get you that extra yard you need to move the chains. They're not going to break any 80 yard runs consistently, but they will make the catch, slip a tackle, and get that 10 yard reception when you need a first down.

Bigger receivers are definitely useful in every offense as you get down into the red zone, but smaller receivers can bring you there and give you the high probability of scoring, and with the super sized cornerbacks becoming more and more frequent in the NFL, it may be the little guys who can give them the biggest challenge.

What do you think about smaller, quicker receivers going against bigger corners?

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Andrew Ludwig 4/03/2015 09:30:00 AM Edit

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