Fascinated with NFL defenses and their workings? Ever wondered who the best defensive cornerback is? Well, you have come to the right spot! In this article, we discuss the 12 Best NFL Cornerbacks.
There’s a popular adage, “Attack wins you matches, defense wins you tournaments.” Moreover, having a sturdy defensive lineup is quintessential for a team’s overall success, and a reliable cornerback in the team goes a long way into pushing for the title.
So, without wasting the time, let us have a look at the 12 Best NFL Cornerbacks.
12 Best NFL Cornerbacks of 2023
Before we dive deep, let’s first have a snapshot of the 12 Best NFL Cornerbacks.
|12. Adoree’ Jackson||New York Giants|
|11. Richard Sherman||Free Agent|
|10. Marcus Peters||Baltimore Ravens|
|9. William Jackson III||Washington Football Team|
|8. Denzel Ward||Cleveland Browns|
|7. Tre’Davious White||Buffalo Bills|
|6. Stephon Gilmore||New England Patriots|
|5. James Bradberry||New York Giants|
|4. Xavien Howard||Miami Dolphins|
|3. Marlon Humphrey||Baltimore Ravens|
|2. Jalen Ramsey||Los Angeles Rams|
|1. Jaire Alexander||Green Bay Packers|
12. Adoree’ Jackson
Starting off our list, Adoree’ K. Jackson is an American cornerback and return specialist who plays for the New York Giants.
Jackson signed a three-year $39 million contract with the Giants on March 23, 2021. Having moved from Tennesse Titans to the New York Giants, Jackson is eager to prove that he is a worthwhile investment.
While the Illinois-born athlete missed most of the previous season with a knee injury, he is regarded as one of the most promising young cornerbacks in the league.
The 27-year-old had a stellar 2019 season, recording a career-high 82.5 coverage grade.
Ever since his arrival, Jackson has been one of the sturdiest cornerbacks in the league. Furthermore, he has 18 forced more incompletions on passes 20-plus yards downfield, less than the 14 receptions he allowed.
11. Richard Sherman
Currently a free agent, Richard Kevin Sherman is an American-born cornerback. Born on March 30, 1988, the defensive-pro is searching for a new club to represent this time.
Sherman is entering the season as a 34-year-old and is determined not to let his age deter him from being his usual best.
Meanwhile, Sherman and Darrelle Revis are the only two cornerbacks with at least 250 targets since 2010 who have allowed fewer than 50% of those passes to be completed.
On the other hand, the California-born cornerback was sidelined through injuries last season. Despite this, he was the highest-graded cornerback in the league, with a 90.3 overall grade in 2019.
He is one of the most impactful free agents available on the market.
10. Marcus Peters
Marcus Peters is an American cornerback who plays for the Baltimore Ravens. Peters brings a sense of security and calmness like no other on the field.
Moreover, the 30-year-old has a knack for getting his hands on the football. Following that, his 31 interceptions since entering the league in 2015 are nine more than any other cornerback.
Peters is tied for fifth in 52 pass breakups since 2015.
On the other hand, his aggression occasionally takes over his gameplay, and it would be cruel not to acknowledge the positivity Peters brings to the table.
9. William Jackson III
Coming in at number 9, William Jackson III is an American football cornerback who plays for the Washington Football Team.
Jackson made his mark with a 90.4 coverage grade in his first season in 2017. He allowed only 30 receiving yards on 359 coverage snaps across his final 11 games that season.
Not to mention, Washington had one of the sturdiest defenses in the NFL in 2020. And with the addition of Jackson, they are confident of outdoing themselves this year.
While the 30-year-old had rather average performances since 2017, he is coming off his best statistical season. Additionally, Jackson had just 52% of the passes into his coverage being completed in 2020.
8. Denzel Ward
Denzel N. Ward is an American cornerback who currently represents the Cleveland Browns.
The player of Browns has been one of the most consistent cornerbacks in the league. Further, he was drafted in the top five in the 2018 season.
The 25-year-old is often overlooked as one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks. However, Ward has, more often than not, defied his naysayers with stellar performances across the board.
Not to mention, the Ohio-born athlete recorded at least 72.0 coverage grades in each of his first three seasons in the league. He has only allowed 51.4% of the passes thrown into his coverage to be completed.
Most notably, Ward has dominated in single coverage with a 96th percentile grade since 2018.
7. Tre’Davious White
Moving up on our list, Tre’Davious White Sr. is an American football cornerback who plays for the Buffalo Bills.
White is one of the best playmaking cornerbacks in the league. To back that up, his 17.1% of the targets into his coverage have resulted in either a pass breakup or interception over his career.
What’s more, it is a top-five mark among qualifiers at the position. White surfaces as one of the better zone-coverage cornerbacks in the NFL as well.
Similarly, he ranks in the 94th percentile of all cornerbacks on such plays during the 2020 season.
6. Stephon Gilmore
Born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Stephon Stiles Gilmore is an American cornerback who plays for the New England Patriots. Gilmore is regarded as one of the most reliable cornerbacks in the league.
Gilmore had a tremendous 2019 as he won the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. While he had an average 2020, the 32-year-old is keen to bounce back in 2021.
Before 2020, Gilmore recorded three straight coverage grades of at least 85.0 in New England’s defense.
However, he had an average showing in 2020 with just a 58.5 coverage grade throughout the year. Gilmore recorded just one interception and two pass breakups on 42 targets.
Also, injuries and age had a big part to play in his sub-par performances in 2020. So, the Patriots will be looking for a strong showing from their usually dependable cornerback this time.
5. James Bradberry
Stepping into the top 5, James Bradberry IV is an American cornerback who plays for the New York Giants.
Bradberry put up decent performances during his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He made a massive breakthrough in his first year with the Giants last season.
The Alabama-born athlete was the fourth-most valuable cornerback in the league in 2020 per PFF WAR. He ended 2020 with career-best coverage numbers across the metrics.
Moreover, the 29-year-old put up an outstanding performance of any cornerback in the league against Allen Robinson II.
Additionally, he allowed just one reception on six targets with three pass breakups. Added to that, he finished Week 2 matchup with a solid single interception.
4. Xavien Howard
Born on July 4, 1993, Xavien Howard is an American cornerback who plays for the Miami Dolphins.
The 29-year-old is considered one of the best playmaking cornerbacks in the NFL. Since stepping foot in the league in 2016, Howard has recorded impressive numbers all-around.
18.7 percent of his targets in coverage have resulted in a pass breakup or interception. Further, he leads all cornerbacks who have been targeted at least 150 times over his five-year NFL career.
Not to mention, Howard particularly shined in 2020 as he put his playmaking ability on full display. Along with his 89.6 coverage grade, the robust defender also recorded double-digit pass breakups and interceptions to cap off a stellar season.
3. Marlon Humphrey
Young and versatile, Marlon N. Humphrey is an American cornerback who plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
In his fifth year in the NFL, 26-year-old has recorded at least 800 coverage snaps in the slot and out wide throughout his NFL career. Furthermore, Humphrey also ranks in at least the 87th percentile in coverage grades.
The cornerback out from Alabama has proved himself in packed Baltimore defense, showing that his prowess is not one to be taken lightly.
So, it is safe to say that very few cornerbacks in the league can exude what Humphrey does ever so elegantly.
2. Jalen Ramsey
Stepping into the top 2, Jalen Lattrel Ramsey was born on October 24, 1994, in Smyrna, Tennessee. The 28-year-old currently plays for the Los Angeles Rams.
Ever since the 2016 NFL Draft, Ramsey has consistently shown why he is regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the league plus, he has never recorded a PFF grade lower than 70.0.
Furthermore, the cornerback out of Tenessee is coming off the best PFF grade since his second year in the league. So, unsurprisingly, the opposing offenses were unable to attack him in coverage.
After a concerning eight receptions allowed in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, Ramsey allowed just 24 receptions over the remainder of the regular season. Additionally, he gave up fewer than 25 receiving yards in 11 games.
An ever-dependable defensive starlet, Ramsey can limit production with absolute precision and finesse. So it is no surprise that the Los Angeles Rams are more than elated to have him on their roster.
1. Jaire Alexander
Topping our list, Jaire Zakar Alexander is an American cornerback who currently represents the Green Bay Packers. The 25-year-old has not taken long to establish himself as one of the league’s best cornerbacks.
Unsurprisingly, there were enough signs to show that the young starlet from Pennsylvania was destined for the very best. To back that up, he made his mark in 2019 with his playmaking ability with his 16 forced incompletions, which ranked second at the position.
However, he occasionally let his aggressiveness overshadow his gameplay. Also, his occasional raging meant that he was susceptible to giving up the big play.
Meanwhile, Alexander had a stellar outing in 2020. Along with his awe-inspiring playmaking ability, he displayed robust and much-needed stinginess in coverage. Despite logging nearly 600 coverage snaps, Alexander allowed only 353 receiving yards all season.
The result was a season where Alexander was worth 1.4 wins above a replacement-level player. To cap it all off, it was almost a full half-win more than any other cornerback.
Defensive duties in NFL are not only tough but also require immense concentration. So, teams and franchises alike tend to invest heavily in their defenses, hoping to push for the coveted title.
Among the long list of defenders in the league, the players mentioned above stand out and have cemented themselves as the 12 Best NFL Cornerbacks.