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Could Tennessee’s Alterraun Verner be the NFL’s next elite corner?

Remember when Darrelle Revis was the consensus top cornerback in football and Richard Sherman could get no respect? Well, now that Sherman is probably considered by most to be the game's best cover man, a new corner has taken his spot as the top sleeper candidate for that title. 

How many casual football fans truly know who Alterraun Verner is? Not many. He's a former fourth-round pick out of UCLA playing for the Tennessee Titans, who receive very limited attention nationally. Sherman's Seahawks are 4-0 and his rivalry with Revis has made him a household name, but Verner's probably the hottest corner in the game.

After recording two picks and a fumble recovery against the Jets Sunday, Verner was named AFC defensive player of the week. That might help his cause on the recognition front, but he's actually been flying under the radar for quite a while. 

Not only is he tied for the league lead with four picks to go only with his two fumble recoveries, but Pro Football Focus grades Verner as the NFL's best cornerback through four weeks, both overall and strictly in coverage. It's not as though he wasn't solid in 2012, but he's really been blossoming in his fourth NFL season.

Verner has given up just eight catches in four games. Opposing quarterbacks have gone his way 23 times, but they've only completed 35 percent of those passes. Throw in those four picks and when you throw to Verner, the odds of him catching it are almost as good as your intended target making the grab. That's why opposing quarterbacks have a hilarious 12.9 passer rating when throwing his way.

Santonio Holmes and Emmanuel Sanders have posted goose eggs against Verner already, and DeAndre Hopkins caught only two of seven passes against him. 

He's a major reason why the Titans are off to a surprising 3-1 start. With Jake Locker now hurt and a tough stretch with Kansas City, Seattle and San Francisco looming ahead on the schedule, he'll have to keep dominating for Tennessee to stick with division rivals Indianapolis and Jacksonville. If that happens, look for the hype to keep building 

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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