The term "shutdown" cornerback is often overused, or misrepresented, when grading out players in the NFL. With a variety of schemes and different techniques being taught across the league, evaluating a player simply can't be done on a static scale. Instead, we need to look at a cornerback's impact on the field, the core fundamentals that are key to the position (eyes, footwork, physicality, ball skills), and the natural ability to lock wide receivers down one-on-one.
Today, let's discuss the cornerbacks I would put in the "shutdown club" based on the tape I've studied this season. These are the guys who consistently show up and compete in critical game situations when they are put on an island.
Age: 27 | Experience: 4th season
This year, Norman has 14 PBUs (passes broken up) to go along with four picks. Perhaps more impressive, he displays flat-out ridiculous body control to attack the ball downfield. Norman is excellent at jamming wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, but I like him even more when he has to match up against the intermediate-to-deep passing game. This is a guy who understands leverage, plays with great eye discipline and gets his body "in phase" (on the hip of the wide receiver) to finish. An athletic cornerback who plays with technique? That's the ticket.