Blasphemy! Well, that's my initial reaction to the question anyway. And it basically is blasphemy at this point in time. But can he be? That's the real question. And if you asked that question two years ago, the resounding answer would be negative. But my good friend Antonio Cromartie has shown some growth over these last two years.
Since 2009 I've had the pleasure of watching the best cornerback in football do his thing. I call Revis the best that has ever played the position because I've never seen a corner impact the game as much as he has, including Deion. Revis didn't only shut down half the field, in so doing he also shut down the opponents best receiver. Maybe Deion coulda woulda shoulda, but Deion didn't. Revis did. [Bup bup bup bup... Deion didn't. Revis did.] Being a Jets fan, I've gotten the pleasure of seeing Revis operate and have appreciated how he has gone about his craft. He wasn't an overwhelming physical talent. But he was a master at something that I've never seen a non-QB master before: leverage. Physical leverage, mental leverage, situational leverage... he used all of it. Simultaneously. There's no way that Revis is as strong as Calvin Johnson, but he jammed and re-routed him with ease because he understands when and where to strike him to knock him off of his route. Have you ever seen a corner appear to be beaten only to have the ball sail two feet beyond the receiver as much as Revis? That's because he acutely understands the defense he's in, where his teammates will be, what the offense is in, and what route they're trying to get his guy free on, and the timing of that route. So he expertly positions himself to scramble the whole thing. Mental leverage. He's also a master at using the situation to his benefit. Down and distance, sidelines, field position and clock. He uses all of it to govern how he'll approach each individual play. He was a master. And a complete pleasure to watch over the years. Cro, at least until recently, has been the opposite.
Cro might just be one of the most freakishly athletic guys that I've ever seen. His modus operandi for most of his career has been to just go out there and out-athlete his opponents. And he was maddeningly inconsistent. One play he's with his man stride for stride, the next he's giving him a 10 yard cushion and still getting turned around on a simple in-route. I always thought, "man, if this guy would just study a little bit of film and work on his technique just a little bit, he could be an absolute phenom." Guess what? Cro has been studying some film and working on his technique. He'll probably never reach master status like Revis, but what if he gets pretty good technically? Or maybe just really good at like... say... jamming? Imagine taking all that athletic freakishism and honing it down and maximizing it.
If he did that, do you think that maybe... could he... possibly...?