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Is Alterraun Verner The Best Corner In The NFL?

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Alterraun Verner has been a big part of the Titans' turnaround this season. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images.
Alterraun Verner has been a big part of the Titans' turnaround this season. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images.

Still don’t know who Alterraun Verner is? Learn it now because, soon enough, you’ll be hearing it all the time.

Why?

Because he’s the best cornerback in the NFL right now...yeah I said it. If my word isn’t enough, Pro Football Focus is also raving about the fourth-year defensive back out of UCLA.

According to the guys at PFF, through five games this season, opposing quarterbacks have targeted Verner 28 times; out of those 28 passes, he has only allowed nine catches for 159 yards. Roughly, Verner is allowing two catches and 30 yards per game.

On top of that, he leads the NFL in pass deflections (11) and interceptions (4), and is tied for second in fumble recoveries (2). He’s accounted for six of the Titans’ 11 takeaways this season. Mathematically, that’s more that 50 percent of Tennessee’s entire takeaways.

Let that sink in.

It’s one thing to be a great cover corner, but the fact that Verner also has the ability to force turnovers and give his offense extra possessions is what could make him special. It’s what’s allowed him standout so far this season.

Say all you want about how much the Tennessee offense has improved this season -- from last season -- but a big part of the Titans surprise start to this season has to be, partly at least, credited to Verner. Ironically enough, a couple months ago he was still battling Tommie Campbell and Coty Sensabaugh in training camp for playing time. Specifically, the starting cornerback spot, opposite of Jason McCourty.

Now, he’s arguably playing the best defensive back football in the entire league. Granted, it’s only been five games.

Though, the most surprising thing about Verner has to be that, really, no one expected it. It’s not like he had a great year last season – he didn’t. The Titans were actually trying to force him out. Really. They drafted two cornerbacks this past draft, but Verner beat them out.

In 2012, Verner only accounted for 8 pass deflections (he’s surpassed that in five games this season), two interceptions and allowed a 64 percent completion percentage, he’s allowing half that this season. Again, amazing.

Verner might not garner the type of attention he deserves now; he might not at the end of the season, either. However, if he continues to play at this level throughout the season, he might find himself on a new team next year. Not because the Titans don’t want him, but because they might not be able to afford him.

Verner is in his last year of his rookie contract and the Titans are facing a very big decision. In training camp they tried to force him out of a job, now they might be asking Verner to take a discount. Maybe.

Last fall, the Titans signed McCourty to a six-year, $44.26 million deal. Is Verner worth the same? More? Less?

Either way, we’re about to find out.

Alterraun Verner, know his name yet?