From an NFC North perspective, I found myself in a bit of a box while power ranking the cornerback position this week.
On more than one occasion last season, I suggested that cornerback Tramon Williams was the Green Bay Packers' top pass defender. In December, it was my contention that Williams was the most deserving Pro Bowl candidate in a Packers secondary that also included fellow cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Nick Collins.
It wasn't a slight on Woodson or Collins, but rather a belief that Williams had developed into an elite-level cover man who was probably a year or so away from national recognition of what we in the NFC North saw all season. So when it came down to vote, I felt I had to stay true to that belief -- Williams ahead of Woodson -- while also accounting for some of the other top cornerbacks around the NFL.
I felt pretty strongly about Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Champ Bailey as my top four cornerbacks. So, ultimately, the highest I could get Williams was No. 5 overall. It was the top ranking he received in an exercise that ultimately placed him No. 7. (Had I voted him lower, Williams would have finished no better than No. 8.) If there were any doubts about Williams' value, you should remember he sealed two of the Packers' four playoff games -- including the Super Bowl XLV -- with strong plays on the ball.
But after placing Williams at No. 5, I was forced to give Woodson his lowest ranking at No. 6 overall. (He finished No. 4). That left another deserving NFC North cornerback, the Minnesota Vikings' Antoine Winfield, at No. 7. Winfield finished No. 6 overall despite his absence on two ballots.
So in the end, my rankings helped maneuver Williams to a spot I strongly think he deserves and hurt neither Woodson nor Winfield. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.