Nnamdi checks in at No. 18

Great segment on the NFL Network’s Top 100 series on Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who ended up ranked No. 18 by his peers in ranking the league’s top 100 players.

Denver wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, one of the NFL’s better talkers when in the mood, “presented” Asomugha well, and the NFL Network did its usual terrific job with clips to support the ranking.

For what it’s worth, Asomugha was ranked as a better player than Philadelphia’s Michael Vick (No. 20) but just behind Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata (17) and former Raider Charles Woodson (No. 16).

Asomugha’s street cred was in evidence, particularly in clips involving wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who at one point bemoaned Asomugha’s long arms and later couldn’t believe Michael Huff had arrived in some form of late double coverage because “Nnamdi, he’s the best in the league, man!.”

I’ve made this point before, but I’ll do it again now. For all of Asomugha’s excellence, how much did it really help the Raiders’ bottom line?

Play man-to-man defense as much as the Raiders, and he’s essentially covering 20 percent of the eligible receivers, giving the quarterback 80 percent of the field to work with. So let’s have none of the “Nnamdi takes away half the field” nonsense that seems to arise regularly.

Many smarter people than myself, however, will line up to pay him big bucks at the conclusion of the NFL work stoppage, and actually I’m looking forward to seeing Asomugha play for someone else.

Not because I want him gone. The guy is a class act and a delight in every way to deal with, and unparalleled as a cover cornerback.

From a distance, I want to see Asomugha in a situation when he’s not locked on a receiver all the time, if he can come off his man and gamble, or break on the ball in a zone and make a play. He probably can do it, it’s just that we’ve seldom seen it because of the way the Raiders play defense.

I can assure you he’s cast an admiring glance at what happened to Woodson in Green Bay. The two talk often, and any discussion regarding Woodson over the past two years has resulted in only a Cheshire cat grin from Nnamdi when asked about how he would fare in a different system given the opportunity to make more plays.

As for those of you who think he may remain in Oakland, the day the Raiders paid big money to Stanford Routt and Richard Seymour meant Asomugha was probably headed out the door. Not because Al Davis doesn’t like or value Asomugha, but because he doesn’t value him as much as other teams are going to value him.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer