Prior to a 38-0 demolition of Northwestern, the Michigan defense was already garnering high praise, including accolades focused on star cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Lewis was mentioned as a potential darkhorse contender for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, but after yet another shutdown performance, the 5-foot-10 cornerback could be worthy of even more recognition.
This time, he is honored on a national scale as the best cornerback in the country according to Pro Football Focus. Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com brings the details:
Pro Football Focus has charted Lewis' season through six games, and he's currently their highest-rated college cornerback ... nationally. Per PFF, Lewis has been targeted 34 times in six weeks. He's allowed 11 receptions for a total of 67 yards, and he's also made two interceptions. So, opposing passers are completing 32.4 percent of their throws against Lewis, with 1.9 yards per attempt. He's also been credited with 8 pass breakups, which ranks No. 3 nationally.
Beyond the pure numbers, Lewis is charged with improving the play of his teammates, and that quality is often the measure of true greatness. Standout freshman Jabrill Peppers spoke to that premise to MLive.com:
"Jourdan's the best corner in the country and that makes everybody's job a lot easier. When you have a guy who is out there and who can shut down half the field, it makes everybody's job easier. And it's expected from him.
"It's not like 'oh, good job, Jourdan.' We expect that from him. Jourdan inspires me to play better."
Lewis was selected as the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Week after a dominant showing against Northwestern, and his pick-six was another example of stellar play. It seems remarkable that the major focus of the preseason was on Peppers (who has been fantastic in his own right), but at this point, Lewis is simply the better player, and aside from Florida's Vernon Hargreaves, you would have serious trouble finding a player at the position who is operating at a similar level.
It is only a six-game sample, but Michigan fans should be worrying that Lewis is playing so well that he would depart Ann Arbor following his junior season. That, of course, is a side effect of phenomenal play, and in this instance, fans should accept the high-level contributions and use them to inspire confidence for the game against Michigan State and beyond.
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