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Top 10 Players in 2009: #5 - CB Al Harris

I'm getting on a roll with the outstanding Packers' secondary. At #6 was FS Nick Collins, and now CB Al Harris comes in at #5. Although I've got some serious reservations about putting him here.

There are a lot of good reasons why he is one of the top 10 most important players for 2009. He's coming off a great 2008 season, which included a trip to the Pro Bowl. Since they traded for him before the 2003 season, he didn't miss a start until early 2008 when suffered a lacerated spleen on a collision with LB A.J. Hawk. Even that only kept him out 4 games, and he still made the aforementioned Pro Bowl. Despite the presence of CB Charles Woodson on the roster, Harris is more likely to be covering the other team's best receiver.

But 12 months ago, I would have never put him on this list. He had a brutal 2007 season and got burned on a lot of occasions. Most notably when WR Plaxico Burress toasted him repeatedly during the NFC Championship game. He'll be turning 35 during the 2009 season and that's really old for a cornerback. But 34 is old for a cornerback too, and he did just fine last season. Also, he's never been known for his speed, so he's been spending his entire NFL career finding ways to compensate for it.

Despite his skill, his loss wouldn't be a devastating blow to the secondary. CB Tramon Williams, I guy I love but he's not Top 10 material yet, played very well last season. The coaches gave CB Will Blackmon a long look during OTA, and last year's 2nd round pick, CB Pat Lee, played well when Harris was injured in 2008.

Overall, he's been one of the top defensive players every season since 2003, usually assigned the responsibility of stopping the other team's best receiver, and he is coming off a great 2008 season. He has to be one of the top players they are relying on in 2009.