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Personally, as I haven't mentioned my top tandem yet, I would still take whichever twosome the Panthers put out there. Yes, whichever twosome out of the three. While it's fair to say that neither Lucas/Gamble had exemplary seasons, I didn't see any physical skill level slippage that would warrant concern in future seasons. Having an off year happens, and there were certainly other factors. Now, both have a lot of work to do this offseason, but age/talent wise, I'll take my chances with them. After that, I think I would go with the Broncos ... if they keep Bly. If it turns out to be, say, Bailey/Macklin instead ... then they drop. I would probably go Falcons after that, as I'll roll the dice with Williams over Washington (if Williams stays at corner), as I like Hall better than Asomugha. Raiders would probably come in after that with Asomugha developing, but a bit of uncertainty on my part as to how good Fabian Washington can be. I'd close it off with the Eagles.
2. Broncos (if Bly stays ... )
3. Falcons (I absolutely am not a big Williams fan ... but the kid has some skills)
I think a case could be made for a variety of orders, though. For all the "Champ Bailey and Joe Smuckers" could be the best tandem ... I think that's a bit overreaching in this age of football.
But I'll give it some more thought, and who knows, by the end of this free agency period, things could be much different.
Toonster, normally I'd back you up, but I have to agree that your assessment here is suspect at best. Hall had a terrible 2006, and Williams didn't fare better. Meanwhile, Brown and Sheppard were consistent and consistently better than both Falcons CB's with a lesser pass rush to help them out. You can put the Falcons in the top 5 based on Williams' potential, but the Eagles have to be ahead of them due to actual production...
I thought we were looking towards 2007 ... not looking back at 2006. If we are looking back at 2006, sure, I'd take Brown/Sheppard over the Falcons tandem any day. I don't think Hall had a terrible 2006 ... and I didn't see any slippage in physical ability to assume that he can't be considered one of the elite CB's in the league. It reminds me a few years ago (2003) when most observers felt that Fred Smoot was the better cornerback than Champ Bailey. Looking back on it, it's ludicrous. Champ had an off year, and it wasn't a bad year.
Hey, by all means, if we are judging on 2006, I'd take the Eagles duo over the Falcons. From that measure, the Packers and 49ers definitely deserve to be up there. But the age of guys like Al Harris/Charles Woodson/Walt Harris makes me wary on those guys.
Again ... if we are looking at 2007 ... I'll take my chances with the Falcons duo over the Eagles duo, especially with Mike Zimmer there as the DC and a quality coach in Emmitt Thomas. I could end up being dead wrong, but I'd take them ... if we are looking at 2007.
And if it wasn't made clear befoe, I personally don't like Jimmy Williams much, and I'll also state that I'm not a huge fan of DeAngelo Hall either.
DeAngelo Hall's '06 season was no different than Nate Clements '05, Lito Sheppard's '05, Champ Bailey's '03/'04. He had a rocky mid-end of the season, I wouldn't classify it as "terrible" in any respect. He had a few rough games, against Pittsburgh, Detroit, New Orleans (2nd), and Dallas. Those were the games he didn't play well in. If you want to selectively look at stretches of games, then I could, if I wanted to, bring up how dominant he was in a 17-game stretch between week nine of '05 and week seven '06 to counter point. It would be nice if he played more consistently well next year, to be sure.
That said, I was surprised anyone mentioned Atlanta, let alone Toonster. I don't think I am even that optimistic.