In the 2015 Pro Bowl, Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Colts cornerback Vontae Davis both represented Team Irvin, playing on the same side. For Sanders, that was surely a relief after having to go up against Davis twice during the 2014 season, once in the regular season and once in the playoffs. It wasn't an easy task for the Broncos wideout - in fact, he recently said that Davis was the second-best cornerback that he faced last year, behind only Darrelle Revis.
"(Davis) was the second best corner I went against this year and I faced him twice," Sanders said, according to Colts.com's Kevin Bowen. "I have all the respect in the world for his game. He was definitely the number two (cornerback), and that's coming from me going against Richard Sherman and all of these other guys. Definitely number one was Darrelle Revis, but definitely, Vontae was number two."
"He's just smart," Sanders continued. "He's very smart. He's very patient at the line of scrimmage so you can't dance too much because you're going to get into a lot of trouble. The speed release is how you get him but still when you try to speed release, he's very physical at the line of scrimmage. That's a recipe for success at cornerback."
Sanders had a terrific campaign last year, catching 101 passes for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns, definitely earning his Pro Bowl berth. Similarly, Vontae Davis had a fantastic season, emerging as one of the best corners in football. Without a doubt, two of his finest performances on the season came against Peyton Manning, Emmanuel Sanders, and the Broncos, as in the two games he allowed just six receptions on 16 targets for 26 yards, allowing just 7 yards after the catch (according to Pro Football Focus). In other words, in those two games, Davis allowed just 37.5% of targets to be completed, and those completions averaged just 4.3 yards per reception, with an average of just 1.2 yards after the catch. That's insanely good, and it is representative of Davis' entire 2014 season in which he was at the top of his game.
There's little doubt that in 2014, Davis was every bit as good as guys like Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman, entering that "elite" category. Now, certainly, Davis has to keep it up over a longer span than just one season to truly enter that category, but last year he was there. If you ask Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders, Davis was the second-toughest corner he faced last year behind only Revis, high praise from one of the league's top receivers about one of the league's top corners.