Monday, March 15, 2021

The (Seemingly) Forgotten Albert Lewis

 By John Turney
Riddle me this Batman, why doesn't Albert Lewis get mentioned more often in the discussion of great cornerbacks?

Lewis was someone who did it all as a corner—and more.

he began his career as a nickel back and was (in our view) one of the top 2 in the NFL that season and after starter Gary Green was traded to the Rams, Lewis took over the left corner spot though he would often still move inside in nickel. 

The mid-1980s were kind of a golden age for corners and it was tough to get All-pro honors, though he got some—he was "above the line" five times from 1986-80, though1985 and 1993 were "above the line worthy" if you will.

He tall, one of the last great tall corners, 6-2, maybe even a bigger, taller one with long arms and good hips (rare for a taller corner). He was studious once daying " “My focus is hypnotic. I put myself in a trance. When I’m in total focus – absolutely there – I can meet my fears head-on and defeat them.”

In addition to his height and long arms, Lewis could run, reported a 4.3 forty guy coming out of Grambling—said Joel Buchsbaum "Excellent in man-to-man coverage and can run with the racehorses".

Moreover, from the slot, Lewis could blitz (12.5 career sacks) and be a force in the run game (33.5 tackles for losses, aside from sacks. He could also pop a ball out of a receiver's hands (14 forced fumbles) and had 205 passes defended to go with his 42 picks—and that's with fellow Chiefs CB Kevin ross getting "most of the business" as former Chiefs coach Hank Stram would day—teams avoided lewis if at all possible. 

Chart credit: PFJ
After eleven seasons in Kansas City and the new free agency opportunities afforded to NFL players Lewis spent his final five seasons with the Raiders, a typical Al Davis signing... boy did he love corners who could cover and pass rushers. He was obsessed with them and Lewis fit that mold.

The thing that separates Lewis from his peers though is his value as a special teams player. 

Simply put he's on the shortlist for the best punt blocker in NFL history. Not only did he block ten he deflected a pair of others and tackle a punter as well (the same thing as a block, really) and he affected countless others. 

If you were to pick a corner that had complete value, Lewis has to be one near the top of your list, cover man or zone, run support, blitzing, outside or slot, and high value as a special teamer. He was a guy who sure checked a lot of boxes. A lot.



2 comments:

  1. Yes! Easy hall of famer and top ten corner ever! Better than a lot of corners in the hall right now in my view.

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  2. I'm not sure there was much distance between Lewis and Darrell Green - unless you were judging a Superstars competition. I think a combination of team success, the Superstars element, and some added Punt returning has landed Green with the far higher level of acclaim. However, I think Lewis' contribution as a Punt blocker was actually far more impactful than Green's as a returner.

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