I will admit that even I was a little taken back at first by the selection of Ryan Shazier this year with Darqueze Dennard still on the board; even more so when the Bungles too him at 24. However, after giving this some thought it might have been the best move considering the shift in the cornerback market (of course the more I read about Shazier the more I love, and loved him before we drafted, but that is beside the point). For those have been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, two of the top cornerbacks in the league just got PAID and one more likely in the pipeline.
Richard Sherman Deal
4-year $57.4 million contract with $40 million guaranteed
Joe Haden Deal
5-year $68 million contact with $45 million guaranteed
Holy crap. That is the same or more guaranteed money than: just about everyone in the NFL sans Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Calvin Johnson, Drew Brees, and Tony Romo. That is more guaranteed money for a CORNERBACK than most quarterbacks in the NFL, which to beat the dead horse is the most important position in the league. Cornerbacks everywhere, including Patrick Peterson, are paying close attention to these contracts. Just as the shift to outrageous QB contacts has occurred, the same is occurring with defensive backs with such a premium put on defending the pass.
This brings me back to my point, it might be better to not invest so highly in a cornerback- especially ones that are commanding that type of dollar. Now sure, there are arguments that Sherman wasn't a top-drafted corner and corner is significant important in this "Passing League". However, to invest so highly in a cornerback and to have him excel and potentially command this type of contact is delaying the inevitable; that player will walk on his second contact. The Pittsburgh Steelers ain't paying that type of guaranteed money to anyone, much less a cornerback!
With that said, I like the strategy of holding off on a cornerback in the first couple of rounds (at least until round 3 unless there is crazy value) considering that value players can come in and contribute-saving the team from having to fight that debacle. Also as many writers and BTSC members noted, there isn't as much emphasis put on the cornerback position as it is in the defensive line and linebacking positions. It makes me feel better about the strategy we are taking, even though some of our previous later round corners haven't panned out. I am confident in the Front Office's knowledge of the market, value, and player personnel, much more so than my own.
Sigh for Richard Sherman and Joe Haden for setting the cornerback market for the future, and thank you for your stone hands and age, Ike Taylor!