Excelling in virtually any profession at the top level almost requires you to believe that you are the best at what you do, or at least extremely good at it. That may be especially true in the field of athletics. And in football, a case can be made that the cornerback position above all demands it.
Cornerback is such a competitive position, in which you are always at a disadvantage, at least in this era of the game. Even the best tend to ‘lose’ half the time, in terms of allowing a reception. You have to have a short memory for your mistakes, and convince yourself that any big play you allow is a fluke.
The last thing you want on your roster is a cornerback with a confidence problem, though it’s an issue anywhere. That seemed to be one of the biggest issues with Curtis Brown, a former Pittsburgh Steelers third-round pick in 2011.
It doesn’t appear that will be an issue for the Cleveland Browns’ 2021 first-round pick, Greg Newsome II, however. Not because he’s arrogant or cocky, but because he understands that you simply can’t play the position any other way.
My confidence “comes from my skills”, he recently told the team’s website. “It’s just something I’ve developed over the years, just always believing I’m the best whenever you step onto the field. It’s how you have to play the game. If you’re not going to play cornerback like that, you’re not going to make it”.
Ask any great cornerback of any era, and I’m sure they’ll tell you that they’re the best to ever play, or at least the best of their era. Rod Woodson and Mel Blount would apply just in Steelers history. In recent years, you would have Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman, and Patrick Peterson stating their cases.
And I’m sure guys like J.C. Jackson and Xavien Howard believe they’re the best cornerback in the league right now as well. It’s inevitable that you will lose sometimes—there are simply too many opportunities for it not to happen sometimes—but every time the ball snaps, they probably know in their head that they’re going to win. Even if someone just burned them the play before.
As for Newsome, he will be competing with Greedy Williams and free agent Troy Hill for a starting role in the secondary as a rookie, alongside Pro Bowler Denzel Ward, who said of the first-round pick, “he’s looking real good and looking like a good pick”.
Williams missed all of the 2020 season due to a nerve injury in his shoulder. Hill was signed from the Rams and may be in line to play in the slot, as he can play both inside and outside. I’m sure Newsome will get on the field this year in some form or fashion—the Browns have already talked about playing a lot more dime—but will he be on the field every play? You can bet he thinks he’s capable.