The season has almost reached its halfway point, which means we are now able to find a pulse on where the top cornerbacks are this season in the National Football League. For the first installment of the NFL’s Top 25 CB rankings, we’ll look at the top-level performances from various players at the position and their impact on their football team and defensive schemes going into Week 7.
NFL Top 25 CB Rankings, Week 7 | 25-16
25) Joe Haden, Pittsburgh Steelers
Since arriving in Pittsburgh, Joe Haden has been a key piece of this dominant defense, as it’s his coverage on the perimeter that helps create opportunities for the pass rush and Minkah Fitzpatrick on the backend. Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt might be the members of the Steelers getting Defensive Player of the Year hype, but if it weren’t for lockdown cover specialists like Joe Haden, their job would be much more difficult.
24) William Jackson III, Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati secondary is far from great, but along with safety Jessie Bates III, Jackson has been a bright spot that the franchise should look to build around on the backend moving forward.
He has been the Bengals’ only consistent cornerback this season while facing every opponents’ top pass-catcher. Also, his interception against the Browns in Week 2 took points off the board for Cleveland and could’ve been the turning point in that game for Cincinnati to get their first win.
23) Xavier Rhodes, Indianapolis Colts
Almost no defense in the NFL has been harder to attack through the air than that of the Indianapolis Colts, and Xavier Rhodes’ resurgence is a big reason as to why. Rhodes was one of the worst starting cornerbacks in 2019, which led to his release from the Vikings, but in Indianapolis, he has come close to regaining his form as one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks.
This season, he has already squared off against Adam Thielen, Allen Robinson, and Odell Beckham, and has allowed just one reception combined across those three matchups.
22) Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears
Much like the rest of the Bears defense, Fuller took a slight step back in 2019, but he’s returned to playing at a high level this season. The takeaways are still at a fairly low rate, which is why he was unable to crack the top 20, but he’s made up for it by nearly eliminating big plays in his direction. If he starts to record interceptions, he’ll quickly rise in the rankings of the top 25 CBs.
21) Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
All the marquee stars are on the offensive side of the ball, but the most impressive position group on the new-look Bucs has been the young secondary featuring Antoine Winfield Jr., Carlton Davis, and Jamel Dean.
That was especially true when they held the Packers’ explosive offense to 10 points, and Dean’s pick-six was the catalyst that sparked the blowout.
20) James Bradberry, New York Giants
With the Giants in desperate need of cornerback help, Dave Gettleman turned to one of his old Panther draft picks, James Bradberry, and he’s been greatly rewarded. The Giants secondary has nothing surrounding Bradberry, so if it weren’t for his efforts to keep them afloat, they would have the worst coverage unit in the league between Isaac Yiadom, Darnay Holmes, and Ryan Lewis.
19) Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers
It’s hard to determine where Richard Sherman fits into these rankings of the top 25 CBs, as he’s only played one game, but in that one game, he was more dominant and played at a higher level than almost any other cornerback we’ve seen this season.
Sherman played all 51 defensive snaps for the San Francisco defense and allowed just one reception for nine yards. It’s hard to be a better lockdown corner than that.
18) Byron Jones, Miami Dolphins
Byron Jones is a case similar to Sherman, where he has struggled with injury this year, but he’s also played at a very high level while being an invaluable member of the Dolphins defense.
With Jones, the Dolphins defense has allowed 4.75 fewer points per game, and they’ve held opponents to less than 150 passing yards in three of his four starts. Without Jones, the Dolphins defense hasn’t been able to hold an opponent under 240 passing yards.
17) Darious Williams, Los Angeles Rams
If you aren’t familiar with Jalen Ramsey’s co-star in the Rams’ cornerback room, Darious Williams, make sure you do some research soon, as he’s quickly climbing up these rankings of the NFL’s top CBs. He already has come away with two interceptions this season, and he’s also holding opposing quarterbacks under a passer rating of 70 when targeted.
Williams is coming off his worst game of the season as the 49ers were able to take advantage of his inexperience often this week, and he allowed his first touchdown of the season.
16) Bryce Callahan, Denver Broncos
When Vic Fangio took the Broncos’ coaching job in 2019, he brought Bryce Callahan with him. A loose screw in his foot forced his Denver debut to be delayed a season, but so far, he’s proven to be well worth the wait.
He’s been surrounded by an inept pass rush, two rookies, one of which was undrafted, and he’s been forced to move from his most comfortable coverage position in the slot for most of the season, yet he’s still been incredible every week.
NFL Top Cornerback Rankings, Week 7 | 15-6
15) Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles turned one of the National Football League’s worst pass defenses just a season ago into a top 12 unit in yards per game. That improvement can be attributed largely to the off-season acquisition of Darius Slay, who has given the Philadelphia secondary the best true No. 1 cornerback they’ve had in a while.
14) Quinton Dunbar, Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle secondary has been largely disappointing this season, especially after Jamal Adams went out with a groin injury. Still, Quinton Dunbar has been one member of the unit that has lived up to preseason expectations. Since struggling in Week 1 against the Falcons, Dunbar has rarely seen a pass completed in his direction, and you could easily argue he was the best defensive player on the field for the Seahawks in their game against the Vikings.
13) Kendall Fuller, Washington Football Team
Washington’s dominant defensive line has definitely helped Kendall Fuller out, but he would be playing at an elite level even without them. So far this season, Fuller has recorded more interceptions (4) than he’s allowed receptions (3), and he’s allowing a passer rating of just 8.7 when targeted in coverage.
The only thing holding him back from being higher in these top 25 CB rankings is that he’s already missed two games this season.
12) Casey Hayward Jr., Los Angeles Chargers
The heavily hyped-up ‘Jackboyz’ defense has not turned out to be as good as was expected on paper, with injuries being the primary culprit. Despite the rest of the defense disappointing, Casey Hayward has continued to play like one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. If it weren’t for him, the Bolts likely wouldn’t have been as competitive as they were in their losses to the Panthers, Chiefs, and Saints.
11) Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Along with Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis has starred at cornerback for the Buccaneers, and the pace Davis is on six games into the season is pretty unbelievable.
If Davis played at this level all season long, he would finish the year with eight interceptions and 27 passes defended, both of which would be the most recorded in either statistical category since the 2017 season. For comparison’s sake, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore finished the season with six interceptions and 20 passes defended.
10) Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints
Not too long ago, Lattimore would have been towards the top of these top 25 CB rankings, but he hasn’t been the same this season, much like the rest of the Saints defense. It’s hard to rank Lattimore much lower than 10, as his ceiling isn’t far off from that of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, but he hasn’t been able to reach that ceiling with any consistency in 2020.
9) Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
Speaking of cornerbacks that used to be at the top of this list, enter Patrick Peterson. Peterson struggled in 2019 following his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, but he’s returned to playing like an elite cornerback this season, though age has clearly caught up with him to some extent.
8) Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
The Rams have the league’s best pass rusher — defensive back combo with Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald, but the Browns are nipping at their heels with the special tandem of Denzel Ward and Myles Garrett. Ward is slightly undersized, but he’s one of the stickiest cornerbacks the NFL has, and he has minimal issues with shedding blockers and making tackles in the run game despite his slight frame.
7) Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard easily is the most talented cornerback — maybe the most talented player — in the league that no one seems to talk about.
He is currently tied for the league lead in interceptions, and he’s currently holding opposing quarterbacks under a passer rating of 50 when targeted, which is especially incredible when you consider that he’s appeared in every game, so far, this season.
6) Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens
The book is out on Marcus Peters at this point in his career. He is a very gifted cornerback specializing in baiting quarterbacks into bad interceptions, which Peters then often returns for a touchdown. Unfortunately, that highly-aggressive style leads to mistakes and big plays in the other direction, which is why Peters isn’t higher on this list.
NFL Top Cornerback Rankings, Week 7 | 5-1
5) Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
Stephon Gilmore was correctly awarded the title of Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, and he’s remained one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks, but he isn’t playing at quite the same level he was a season ago.
In 2019, he allowed just one touchdown while leading the league in interceptions and breaking up 13 passes while being penalized just six times. This season, he’s already allowed two touchdowns, and he has twice as many penalties as he has interceptions and pass breakups combined.
4) Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills
With Gilmore trailing off a little bit, the door was wide open for Tre’Davious White to steal the crown of ‘best defensive back on the east coast.’ Unfortunately, White has also dropped off a little from his dominant 2019 performance, and the rest of Buffalo’s defense has followed him.
If he continues to play as he did against the Chiefs receiving core, though, he could capture the No. 1 spot in these top 25 CB rankings before season’s end.
3) Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers
With Aaron Rodgers re-emerging as one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, Jaire Alexander has emerged as one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks. The relationship has also been symbiotic between the two Green Bay stars, as Rodgers will secure a big lead with his arm, and then Alexander will make sure the opposing team can’t throw the ball to come back.
Since Week 2, Alexander has allowed just six receptions for 37 yards while not allowing a single NFL quarterback to have a passer rating above 72 when targeting him.
2) Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens haven’t been as dominant on offense this season as they were in 2019, but that hasn’t mattered much because the defense has more than compensated for the dropoff, and Marlon Humphrey has been the leader of that defense. Humphrey’s incredible coverage ability has only been made more impressive by the fact that the Ravens blitz more than any other team in the NFL, which means he’s typically on an island.
1) Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams
Jalen Ramsey might indeed have been overpaid by the Rams this off-season, but he’s playing at a higher level than any cornerback in the league, which is why he finds himself on top of this first batch of CB rankings.
Ramsey has everything you want out of an elite cornerback. He’s the closest thing the modern NFL has to a ‘shutdown cornerback’ in coverage, he has fantastic ball skills, which allows him to create turnovers, and he won’t hesitate to lay some wood in the run game as well, which we saw against the Giants.