When he was the Kansas City Chiefs coach, Marty Schottenheimer was fond of saying a team can never have enough good cornerbacks.
Nowadays, an NFL team can't have enough tall cornerbacks.
With colleges churning out bigger and stronger targets, and NFL teams running so many multiple wide receiver sets, there's a premium on defenses matching up against the likes of super-sized receivers such as Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall with tall, rangy corners.
The Seattle Seahawks established the template, and won the Super Bowl by deploying tall cornerbacks such as 6-foot-3 Richard Sherman and 6-1 Byron Maxwell and extra backs Jeremy Lane and Walter Thurmond, both 5-11. The Seahawks played press man-to-man coverage supported by a powerful pass rush and led the NFL with 28 interceptions.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll began the process in 2011 by drafting Sherman, a converted wide receiver, in the fifth round and signing 6-4 Brandon Browner from the Canadian Football League.
Sherman led the NFL with eight interceptions last season in addition to his ballyhooed shutdown of the 49ers' Michael Crabtree in the NFC championship game. Though Browner was suspended for the final eight games and postseason last year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, the New England Patriots scooped him up in free agency.
"Everybody would like to get longer, taller guys that run 4.4, but there are just not very many humans like that in the world," Carroll said before the 2014 draft. "So it's rare when you find them, and then you have to develop the guys. You have to make those guys come to life in your coaching."
The NFL, being the copycat league that it is, made tall cornerbacks a priority in the 2014 draft.
In the first round, five cornerbacks were selected, and four were 5-11 or taller, starting with Cleveland taking 6-foot Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State with the No. 8 pick. Gilbert, who had 12 career interceptions, is projected as the starting right cornerback opposite 5-11 Pro Bowl player Joe Haden.
Also in the first round, Chicago took Kyle Fuller, a 6-footer from Virginia Tech, with the 14th pick; Cincinnati selected 5-11 Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State with the 24th pick; and Denver used the 31st pick for 5-11 Bradley Roby of Ohio State.
The one exception to the rule in the first round was San Diego, which took 5-9 Jason Verrett of TCU with the 25th pick, but he compensates for lack of height with a 39-inch vertical leap.
The premium on tall corners was evident in free agency, as well.
Besides signing Browner, the Patriots added 5-11 Darrelle Revis, a five-time Pro Bowl pick, though they lost Aqib Talib to Denver. Talib, 6-1, will step in for 6-2 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who signed with the New York Giants, along with Thurmond of the Seahawks.
The Seahawks didn't waste any time replacing Thurmond and Browner. They signed journeyman Phillip Adams, a 6-footer, from the Raiders; and drafted Eric Pinkins, a 6-3 safety from San Diego State in the sixth round with the intention of converting him to corner.
And, they have Tharold Simon, a fifth-round pick in 2013 from LSU, who finished his rookie season on injured reserve. He's 6-foot-3. Just the way the Seahawks like 'em at corner.