Top 10 Best Cornerbacks in the NFL 2021-22
This is my prediction for the best cornerbacks in the NFL going into the 2021-22 season. This is based on talent and how well I believe they will perform next season. While I base it on past seasons, again this is looking forward to next season.
#10 – Marshon Lattimore
Marshon Lattimore was lights out in his rookie season already establishing himself as a top cornerback in the NFL. The sad part is he has gotten worse every season. There is something to be said about playing in the toughest division for Wide Receivers, but some of his blunders have been unacceptable. During the 2020 season he allowed 7 touchdowns in coverage which was the second most for any cornerback. He has been trending downward.
That being said, I don’t think that downward spiral will continue. When looking at the intangibles, he has all the makings of an elite cornerback. This is after all a guy who ran a 4.36 40 yard dash time.
I believe that he will pick up these pieces and become a more consistent cornerback. A guy with this elite of athleticism just needs to focus on the little things when it comes to technique. We’ve seen guys with similar athletic traits play their best football later in their career as they master the little things that make a CB great.
#9 – Marcus Peters
When you think of the term “ball hawk”, Marcus Peters needs to be one of the first names that comes to mind. He is always looking to pick off the football and is always looking to turn that interception into points the other way. This is after all a player who had 8 interceptions and 2 touchdowns in his rookie season.
While the interceptions have slowed down, the ball hawk nature has not. This sometimes is to his detriment. He sometimes finds his way into trouble as he bites on fakes trying to make the big play. He isn’t as risky as he was earlier in his career which has led to more consistency, but it is still noteworthy.
It’s also worth noting he does not have the tenacity defending the run as his partner in crime Marlon Humphrey.
#8 – Denzel Ward
Speaking of elite athleticism, Denzel Ward is that guy. As a matter of fact his 4.32 40 yard dash time ranks in the 100th percentile amongst cornerbacks. There is a reason he was drafted in the top 5.
His name is often overlooked when considering the best cornerbacks in the NFL though. That is in part due to the fact he has yet to play more than 12 games in a season. He has battled injury throughout his career which leaves him out of the best of the best conversation.
That being said I’m buying into the talent. Not only for him individually, but this entire Browns defense. If he can stay healthy, I would not be shocked to see him jump into the top 5.
#7 – James Bradberry
It must be painful for Panthers fans to see Bradberry walk and immediately have the best season of his career. It must be a relief for him to not go up against the slate of stacked NFC North Wide Receivers all of the time.
His most impressive performance last season would be against Allen Robinson. ARob was torching every CB he went up against, but Bradberry held him to one reception on six targets while having 3 pass breakups and an interception on the day.
The Giants are trending upwards and if Bradberry can continue to improve their game I could see them surprising as a playoff team. While I think it’s very possible for Bradberry to continue this dominance, it’s hard for me to rank him against the above CBs on this list.
#6 – Stephon Gilmore
Going into the 2020 season, it was unanimous that the ex-DPOY was the best cornerback in the NFL. In 2020, he wasn’t even a top 5 cornerback as he struggled mightily with the new look New England Patriots.
This is the perfect time to outline the importance of a pass rush when it comes to a cornerbacks success. The Patriots had a brutal pass rush all season and his production reflected that. His physical man-to-man style of play did not translate at all especially considering he was battling injuries all season.
There is no chance we will ever see another defensive player of the year performance from Gilmore. He’s at the age where the production of a cornerback falls off, but he doesn’t need to be the same guy. A guy with this amount of talent should be able to play at a very high level for another couple of seasons.
#5 – Tre’Davious White
After falling off a little bit from his amazing 2020 season, Tre’Davious White is still the playmaker we all know and love.
I mentioned that Marcus Peters has a very risky style of play, but White takes a more calculated risk approach. He always finds ways to get his hand on the football. Over his career, 17.1% of passes directed to him in coverage end up as a pass deflection or interception.
What makes him so special is his ability to be dominant in both man and zone coverage. Though he is in the 94th percentile when it comes to production in zone coverage which is his clear money maker.
The Bills look nearly perfect on paper next season and Tre’Davious White plays a large part of that as the leader on this defense.
#4 – Marlon Humphrey
Marlon Humphrey just keeps getting better. He was already one of the top cornerbacks during his rookie season and continues to make strides as a playmaker.
This is not a stat padder. Many people use interceptions as the main determinant for the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but that is dead wrong. Unlike Marcus Peters who constantly takes risks, Marlon Humphrey is the far more calculated player. He rarely gets beat deep largely because he never unnecessarily jumps the chump routes.
What’s even more impressive is his ability to cover out wide or as a slot cornerback. He is truly versatile and which makes him the far better cornerback out of the duo.
He is also more than willing to put his body on the line defending the run. A lot of NFL cornerbacks can be soft when it comes to tackling, but Marlon Humphrey is a true baller in every sense on defense.
#3 – Xavien Howard
I don’t mean to one up Tre’Davious White, but Xavien Howard does just that when it comes to playmaking. Xavien Howard slightly edges the latter as 18.7% of the targets against him in coverage over his career have resulted in a pass breakup or interception.
After an injury plagued 2019 season where he only played 5 games, his playmaking ability was put on full display in 2020 as he recorded a league leading 10 interceptions. He has been burned a few times because of his ball hawk nature as his yards allowed per reception suggest, but if you’re dropping 10 interceptions and 20 pass deflections it more than makes up for it.
The Dolphins defense has been the backbone of their team this past year and credit this man because of it.
#2 – Jaire Alexander
Let’s rewind to the 2018 NFL Draft. Denzel Ward was drafted 4th overall and it wasn’t until the 18th pick where the Packers selected Jaire Alexander. Not to say Ward is a bust, but it’s clear Jaire Alexander has emerged as the best cornerback from that draft and arguably the best cornerback in the NFL over the 2020 season.
If you’re one of those people who is just going to point out his performance against Amari Cooper in week 5, let me rewind you one bad week does not make a player. Throughout the season he clearly established himself as arguably the best man-to-man cover cornerbacks in the NFL.
Over the 2020 season and post-season, Jaire Alexander allowed only 353 receiving yards in coverage in nearly 600 snaps in coverage. His ability over his counterparts is shown as his 1.4 wins above a replacement-level player was nearly 0.5 more than any other player in the NFL.
#1 – Jalen Ramsey
I personally love trash talking. I think it makes the game more interesting and adds a level of excitement to games. People love to hate and Jalen Ramsey loves to be hated. His trash talking can backfire on him, but I also think it can get into the heads of his opponents.
After a rough week 1 against the Cowboys where Ramsey allowed 8 receptions in coverage, he followed up with a tremendously allowing only 24 receptions over the rest of the season. He also gave up fewer than 25 receiving yards over 11 different games last season.
His man-to-man coverage skills speaks for itself, but I think what makes him the best cornerback in the NFL is his tackling ability. He is only 190 pounds, but is not afraid to get physical. Ramsey not only misses few tackles, but has some highlight tackles to bout. Sorry Golden Tate, but not only did he smash your sister, he smashed you into the turf.
Looking into 2021, Jalen Ramsey is my pick for the best cornerback in the NFL.
FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM: @SOGFOOTBALL
FOR MORE NFL TOP 10 LISTS: CLICK HERE