10) Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
Xavien Howard has been terrific all season for the Dolphins, but he had his worst game of 2020 this past Sunday. Robert Woods is a fine receiver, but he’s far from being elite, and Howard seemingly had no answers for him. With Goff struggling to decode Miami’s defense, it seemed like the one thing that was working through the air for the Los Angeles offense was taking advantage of Howard in coverage against Woods. Hopefully, that performance wasn’t a sign of things to come, or Howard will no longer be among the NFL’s best cornerbacks after Week 9.
9) Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
Last year, Stephon Gilmore was so magnificent he became the rare defensive back to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, but this year he’s been passed by cornerbacks like Jaire Alexander and Carlton Davis, which helped land him on the trade block ahead of Sunday’s game. Gilmore wasn’t dealt in the end, but the fact that he was available is telling of both his play this season and the state of the Patriots’ season.
8) Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
The equally bizarre and awful weather in Cleveland last Sunday certainly helped Denzel Ward keep the Las Vegas passing attack in check, but Ward deserves his fair share of the credit as well. The Raiders didn’t even dare to look Ward’s way on Sunday outside of one dump off to Renfrow, and Ward continued to make physical plays near the line of scrimmage that you never see from defensive backs his size. That physicality easily makes him one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks entering Week 9.
7) Bryce Callahan, Denver Broncos
Over the past three weeks, no cornerback is playing at a higher level than Bryce Callahan, outside of maybe Jaire Alexander and Jalen Ramsey. Against the Chargers, Callahan was absolutely perfect in the slot, as the Chargers were unable to complete passes in his direction despite consistent attacks from Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
Though his whole performance was flawless, Callahan’s big climb among the best cornerbacks entering Week 9 is primarily powered by his unbelievable interception in the back of the end zone against Mike Williams, who has seven inches and nearly 40 pounds on Callahan. Not only was the interception an amazing play, but without it, the Broncos definitely lose that game
6) Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens
Marcus Peters has been fantastic for the Ravens, and against the Steelers on Sunday, he managed to outperform Marlon Humphrey for the first time this season. JuJu Smith-Schuster, more or less, ate Humphrey’s lunch, making several catches that moved the chains for Pittsburgh’s offense, while on the other side of the field, Peters was keeping the seemingly unstoppable Chase Claypool in check for four quarters.
NFL Top Cornerback Rankings | 5-1
5) Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills
2020 has been mildly disappointing for Tre’Davious White, as his play has seen a slight yet noticeable dip. However, he returned to his 2019 form on Sunday against the Patriots in what was his best performance of the year. He put opposing receivers on an island to the degree that he was barely even mentioned in the game’s broadcast. Cam Newton refused to look his direction save for one dump off to Rex Burkhead behind the line of scrimmage, which White was quick to swallow up.
4) Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens
Marlon Humphrey has been nearly flawless this season and is one of the only cornerbacks with more than 225 coverage snaps on the season that has yet to allow a touchdown. However, Smith-Schuster owned Humphrey for much of last Sunday. The Steelers’ quick passing game was effective against the Ravens loaded secondary, and Smith-Schuster outmuscled Humphrey on three different occasions for a critical conversion.
3) Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Much like the rest of his team, Carlton Davis struggled much more against the Giants than expected. However, Davis made up for his struggles by coming up with massive plays in crucial moments. Following a massive kick return that allowed the Giants to open the second half near midfield, Davis came up with an interception that led to a Buccaneers field goal and served as the game’s turning point, similar to Jamel Dean’s pick-six of Aaron Rodgers a few weeks ago.
2) Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers
Since our last rankings of the NFL’s top cornerbacks, Jaire Alexander has played in two games and played exceptionally well in both. First, he squared off against Justin Jefferson, who’s on pace to have the best rookie season by a wide receiver since Anquan Bolden, and effectively eliminated him from Minnesota’s game plan when in coverage against him. San Francisco’s receiving core was a much easier hurdle to clear, considering how depleted that unit was, and Alexander nearly pitched a shutout. The only reception he allowed came on a screen pass to Richie James Jr., well behind the line of scrimmage, which Jaire Alexander quickly helped blow up.
1) Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams
A reported illness kept Jalen Ramsey out of the Rams’ ugly loss to the Dolphins, but he should return to the field after the team’s bye this week. Despite said illness, Ramsey remains the top cornerback in these rankings because he has been in a class of his own this season. No other cornerback has shown the combination of coverage skills and physicality that Ramsey has, outside of maybe Carlton Davis and Jaire Alexander, so Ramsey’s spot as the NFL’s best cornerback entering Week 9 will stay untouched.