Now that Darrelle Revis has abdicated the throne and Richard Sherman is fresh off the trade block, the NFL’s lockdown cornerback crown is up for grabs in 2017.

Los Angeles Chargers corner Casey Hayward, a first-time Pro Bowl selection last season, believes he’s the leading candidate to ascend to the head of the class.

It’s hard to argue with the production in Hayward’s sensational debut season with the Bolts. He led all cornerbacks in interceptions (seven) and finished third with an opposing passer rating of 53.4.

“When you put my numbers up against other people’s numbers,” Hayward protested to the Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne, “it’s crazy that people aren’t saying my name.”

About that No. 64 ranking in NFL Network’s The Top 100 Players Of 2017 countdown? Hayward was less than thrilled:

Perhaps the most impressive number in Hayward’s portfolio is a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 6:16.

“Bananas,” he said, “compared to anybody else’s.”

Although Hayward fared well early in his career with the Packers, he started just 20 of 51 games across four years in Green Bay. His name was never mentioned among the game’s shutdown cornerbacks until the middle of last season.

The question is whether 2016 will stand as a career year or go on to establish the new norm for Hayward as one of the NFL’s most instinctual playmakers.

“I want to be the best corner in 2017,” Hayward added. “That’s what I strive to be. I thought I was the best corner in 2016. Let’s see who’ll be the best corner in 2017.

“When I do it again, people will say, ‘Oh, he did it again.’ And I’ll get my true due.”


To accomplish that feat, Hayward will have to hold off his own teammate.

Jason Verrett, the Chargers‘ top pick in the 2014 draft, was regarded as one of the league’s stingiest young cornerbacks before he went down with a partially torn ACL early last October.

Count former Buccaneers star Ronde Barber as one of Verrett’s great admirers.

“Frickin’ special, man,” Barber told Dunne. “Watching him play, it’s like ‘Holy s–t, this dude’s for real.’ Jason will hit you, man. He plays bigger. He plays like he’s 210.”

In addition to a suddenly loaded offense, the Bolts boast a stout defense headlined by marquee tandems at pass rusher and in the secondary.

If Verrett recaptures pre-injury form, in fact, the Chargers‘ cornerback duo should challenge those in Denver and Jacksonville for NFL supremacy.

“It’ll be scary for people,” Hayward warns.

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