Top 10 Best Wide Receivers in the NFL Today 2023-24
2023 NFL Rankings
In the NFL, where gunslingers and speed demons rule the roost, it’s those stalwart defenders that often change the game’s tempo. Think of them as the goalies of football, swatting away passes like pucks. As aerial attacks become the norm, these cornerbacks are the last line of defense, the barrier between a receiver’s dance in the end zone and a drive coming to a grinding halt. This isn’t just about speed or strength, it’s about wit and willpower. It’s reading a quarterback’s eyes, predicting the play, and being two steps ahead. These are the best cornerbacks in the NFL today going into the 2023-24 season.
#10 – Charvarius Ward
Transitions in the NFL often come with their fair share of uncertainties. When the San Francisco 49ers signed Charvarius Ward away from the Kansas City Chiefs, some eyebrows might’ve been raised. But if there were any doubts, they’ve been put firmly to bed.
With the city’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop, Ward has become a defensive linchpin for the 49ers. Consistently marking the rival team’s top receiver and holding them to a sub-60% completion rate? That’s not just impressive, that’s a statement.
His stats speak volumes: An 82.4 QB rating when throwing in his direction means quarterbacks are likely second-guessing every pass they throw Ward’s way. And in a defensive unit that’s being heralded as potentially the best for 2023, Charvarius stands tall as its stalwart.
The shift from his standout year in Kansas City to even higher peaks in San Francisco is a testament to Ward’s resilience, adaptability, and sheer talent. Receivers trying to outrun or outmaneuver him find themselves outplayed, overshadowed by his dominant presence on the field.
The 49ers’ defense, as stellar as it was last season, benefited immensely from Ward’s sense of the game. It’s a mix of raw athleticism, sharp technique, and an uncanny ability to read offensive plays even before they fully unfold.
For the fans in San Francisco and all around the league, Charvarius Ward is a name that’s becoming synonymous with top-tier defensive play. In the constellation of NFL stars, he’s quickly becoming one of the brightest in the defensive sky.
So, as we look ahead to 2023, let’s take a moment to appreciate the talents of Mr. Ward. If his past performance is any indication, we’re in for some game-changing plays from him. Here’s to a season of shutdowns, interceptions, and moments that leave us in awe.
#9 – Stephon Gilmore
With every season that ticks by, a narrative looms over athletes about “aging out.” Enter Stephon Gilmore, who is challenging this narrative head-on as he heads into his age-33 season. A pinnacle in the cornerback role, Gilmore’s accolades over the past years are nothing short of exemplary, and they continue to echo his legacy in the league.
While he may not currently reside at his Defensive Player of the Year peak, Stephon’s prowess remains undiminished. Consistently ranking high in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades, Gilmore’s statistics have been a reassuring testament to his capabilities. It’s worth noting the elite company he shares in these stats—ranking alongside just three others, all of whom deserve a mention on this list.
Taking his talents to Dallas is intriguing. Under the tutelage of Dan Quinn and partnering with the talented Trevon Diggs, one can only speculate the defensive marvels these two will concoct. In a city known for its glitz, Gilmore’s shine won’t be any dimmer, even as he nears his mid-30s.
Recalling his tenure with the Colts, Stephon proved he’s far from any twilight phase. Garnering an 81.1 PFF coverage grade, quarterbacks thought twice, if not thrice, before throwing in his direction—evident from the mere 82.6 passer rating he allowed. Now, as he sets foot in Dallas for 2023, the landscape might change, but the prowess remains.
Stephon’s craftiness isn’t about overpowering athleticism but more about tact and mastery of the game’s nuances. True, he might not have replicated his DPOY-level performance last year, but he was tantalizingly close. Watching Gilmore on the field is like watching a seasoned chess player, anticipating moves way before they happen and shutting them down.
In a league where young talents surge every year, Stephon Gilmore stands tall, reminding everyone that age is just a number, and class? Well, that’s permanent. Here’s to witnessing another stellar season from a cornerback who has turned defying expectations into an art form.
Honorable Mention – Tariq Woolen
Have you ever witnessed a comet streak across the sky, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, lighting up the night, and leaving everyone in awe? That’s precisely the kind of impact Tariq Woolen made in the NFL during his rookie year. Woolen is a testament to the adage that it’s not where you start, but where you finish that matters. Plucked out of UTEP in the fifth round, he wasted no time demonstrating that he should’ve been on everyone’s radar much earlier.
What set Woolen apart in his debut season? Let’s put it into perspective: Leading the league with six interceptions as a rookie is a headline-grabber in itself. But the devil, they say, is in the details. With a staggering 48.7 QB rating when targeted and a measly 292 air yards allowed on 66 targets, Woolen set an extraordinary benchmark for rookie cornerbacks.
His on-field performances hint at an athlete who’s been mastering the cornerback craft for decades. But Woolen’s journey to this position is relatively new, showcasing his raw talent and unparalleled learning curve. The stat line of six interceptions might be dazzling, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg for Woolen.
Talking about being a marvel, how often do you find a 6’4″ cornerback darting around the field with a blistering 4.26 40-yard dash? It’s this rare combination of size, agility, and sheer speed that makes Woolen a defensive enigma. He’s not just running around aimlessly; he brings his A-game, capitalizing on that 42-inch vertical leap when challenged. A tall order for one of the fastest players in the NFL!
Seattle struck gold with Woolen. Emerging from UT–San Antonio and taking the league by storm, making the Pro Bowl in your rookie year is no mean feat. A pivotal member of the Seahawks’ 2022 class, Woolen is gearing up to be the cornerstone of Seattle’s defense for years to come.
So, here’s a word of advice for quarterbacks around the league: Think twice before you challenge this comet from the Seahawks. Tariq Woolen is on the prowl, and he’s hungry for more.
#8 – Jaycee Horn
In a league often dominated by vocal superstars and larger-than-life personalities, Jaycee Horn’s rise has been that of a silent hurricane building its strength over the waters, unnoticed until it’s too late. The Carolina Panthers, a team known for its defensive prowess, seem to have hit the jackpot with Horn, and the upcoming seasons promise to bear testament to that.
While some may argue that a promising coordinator like Ejiro Evero is bound to get the best out of any player, Horn’s 2022 performance showcased his innate talent and just how elite he already is. Averaging only 7.2 yards per target and suppressing quarterbacks to a humbling 62.4 rating when they dared throw in his direction, Horn has been nothing short of phenomenal. Combine that with Evero’s magic touch, which turned Patrick Surtain into a defensive sensation in Denver, and the 2023 season holds tantalizing prospects for Horn.
Despite the blazing performance of other corners in the 2021 draft, notably one chosen just after him, Horn’s sophomore year stats make him hard to overlook. The numbers from PFF – a mere 28 completions and 310 yards allowed, with an impressive zero touchdowns against him – are nothing short of remarkable. But what sets Horn apart from the herd is his adaptability. He isn’t just confined to the perimeter; he’s equally efficient slotting into the box, making him a multifaceted defensive weapon.
Two years into his NFL journey, and his stats already read like that of seasoned pros. A passer rating of just 48.4 when targeted paints a picture of a cornerback who’s a nightmare for quarterbacks. Sure, the sample size, in terms of snaps, might still be on the lower side, but the glimpses of excellence are hard to ignore.
With accolades like having the fewest total allowed receiving yards among peers with similar coverage snaps, the future seems luminous for Horn. His frame, coupled with his considerable length, allows him to employ a distinctive play style that’s challenging for opponents to decipher.
Injuries may have marred his rookie year, depriving fans of witnessing his full potential. But as he gears up for his third year, the stage is set. Jaycee Horn is poised to take the NFL by storm, and by the looks of it, this storm is set to rage for years to come.
#7 – Marshon Lattimore
Down in New Orleans, a city known for its rich culture and vibrant celebrations, Marshon Lattimore has been staging his own parade on the field since 2017. While the Saints’ renowned offense frequently grabs headlines, Lattimore’s defensive prowess ensures that opponents don’t get to celebrate too often.
One might wonder, with a résumé that boasts a Defensive Rookie of the Year title and four Pro Bowl nods in just six seasons, why isn’t Lattimore more frequently included in debates about the NFL’s top cornerbacks? But those who’ve seen him week in and week out know his value.
Lattimore’s stats are more than just impressive numbers; they’re a testament to his natural ability to read plays and react instantaneously. A haul of 14 interceptions and five forced fumbles is no small feat, especially when facing the league’s elite wide receivers. His skill set is a combination of raw speed, a sharp mind, and unmatched agility.
The trust the Saints organization has in Lattimore is evident in the hefty five-year, $97 million deal they inked with him in 2021. This commitment suggests that they see him not just as a stellar performer but as a foundational piece in their defensive setup for years to come.
However, every gem has its imperfections. For Lattimore, that imperfection might be his inconsistency. While his standout performance against the Eagles, scoring a 93.4 overall grade, showcased his potential, he has also had moments where he let his guard down, allowing 15 touchdowns over the past three seasons. But even the best in the business have their off days.
In the grand scheme of things, Lattimore’s positive impact far outweighs the occasional lapses. The Big Easy can rest easy knowing that when the opposition’s receivers are on the move, Marshon Lattimore is on the case, ensuring the party on Bourbon Street continues uninterrupted.
Honorable Mention – A.J. Terrell
There’s always that one player whose performance serves as a beacon of hope, even in the darkest times of a team. For the Atlanta Falcons, A.J. Terrell is that luminary figure. His journey in the NFL thus far is an embodiment of resilience and unyielding determination.
Flashing a stunning 50% completion rate and a QB rating of just 61.0, he was a nightmare for opposing offenses. But 2022 saw a different story unfold. It’s critical, however, to understand the context. The Falcons’ lackluster pass rush, registering a mere 21 sacks in 17 games, took a toll on Terrell’s performance.
Now, football, like life, is never just about the highs. It’s about navigating through the troughs and rising stronger. The recent regression isn’t a setback, but rather a setup for an imminent comeback. With Atlanta looking to bolster their defense, 2023 might very well see Terrell reclaiming his elite status.
The ebbs and flows of cornerback performance can be unpredictable, but Terrell’s resilience is unwavering. From an 85.6 PFF coverage grade to tackling out-of-scheme challenges head-on, this Clemson alum demonstrates sheer versatility. His dual prowess in both man and zone coverage positions him as a potential cornerstone for the Falcons.
Atlanta may have faced its share of challenges, but in A.J. Terrell, they have a beacon of hope. The football realm should be on the lookout. This Falcon is ready to soar higher come 2023.
#6 – Marlon Humphrey
In a league characterized by positional specializations, few stand out as versatile multi-role players quite like Marlon Humphrey. The former Alabama standout continues to remind the NFL world that pigeonholing him to a singular role would be a gross miscalculation.
2022 was a testament to this very adaptability. Having garnered a reputation as the go-to slot defender, Humphrey’s transition back to the perimeter could have been a challenge for many. Yet, he made it seem like a seamless shift, turning in one of his best coverage years in recent memory. With stats boasting a stingy 74.5 passer rating against him and the remarkable feat of not conceding a single touchdown, Humphrey firmly established that he’s not limited by location on the field.
His role in Mike McDonald’s dynamic defense cannot be understated. The Ravens’ schematic approach leans heavily on blitz schemes, demanding exceptional prowess and adaptability from their corners in man-to-man coverage scenarios. This blitz-reliant strategy would crumble without players like Humphrey, who excel regardless of the coverage call. His efficacy in various coverages, whether it’s Cover 3, Cover 4, or man assignments, underscores his importance.
Yet, beyond the schematic fit, Humphrey brings an edge to the position that few can match. Humphrey’s uncanny ability to create turnovers, either through interceptions or forced fumbles, often tilts the momentum in Baltimore’s favor.
In a league where cornerbacks often rise and fall with fluctuating forms, Marlon Humphrey’s consistency, regardless of his specific role on the field, continues to be a linchpin for the Ravens’ defensive aspirations. With every snap, he solidifies his place not just in the Ravens’ playbook, but also among the league’s elite cornerbacks.
#5 – Darius Slay
Amidst the young and the restless cornerbacks of the NFL, Darius Slay stands as a testament that age isn’t an impediment to excellence on the gridiron. With over a decade in the league, Slay continues to mesmerize fans with his lockdown performances, reinforcing his legacy as one of the NFL’s premier cornerbacks.
Philadelphia’s march to NFC glory wasn’t just a product of offensive brilliance; it was underpinned by a formidable defensive wall, of which Slay was a cornerstone. Forming a daunting duo with James Bradberry, Slay’s seasoned expertise, combined with Bradberry’s prowess, stonewalled elite receivers, grounding high-flying aerial attacks with a thud.
A look at his 2022 stats reads like a cornerback’s dream: an impressive tally of 14 passes defended, three interceptions, and staggeringly low completion percentages when targeted. These aren’t just stellar figures; they underscore a trend of consistency that Slay has maintained over years, ensuring quarterbacks think twice before throwing his way.
His return to form and transcendence into superstardom in Philadelphia is more than just a testament to his skills. It’s a narrative of resilience, adaptability, and the hunger to always outdo oneself. His 2022 stint might have been one of his best yet, with his performances during the playoffs epitomizing what elite cornerback play should look like.
One can’t discuss Slay’s brilliance without talking about his ball-hawk ability. His keen sense of anticipation, married to his speed and reach, has made him a magnet for the football. Whether it’s interceptions or pass deflections, Slay’s knack for getting in the mix is a defensive coordinator’s dream.
From his rookie days in Detroit to his current reign in Philadelphia, Darius Slay’s journey has been nothing short of spectacular. As the next season looms, age might be ticking on for the 32-year-old, but if recent performances are any indication, Slay’s still got a lot left in the tank. In a league where the spotlight often shines brightest on the young, Slay serves as a reminder that experience, too, has its brilliance.
#4 – Trevon Diggs
Trevon Diggs has quickly become synonymous with eye-catching interceptions and flashy plays. He’s emerged as the backbone of the Cowboys’ secondary, establishing himself as a force to reckon with. Yet, like many daring players in history, Diggs’ electrifying style of play is both his strength and weakness.
With 14 interceptions over two seasons, it’s clear that Diggs has a nose for the football. His innate ability to read quarterbacks and anticipate passes is up there with the best in the league. However, this gambling nature, while leading to numerous game-changing plays, has also been his Achilles’ heel. Surrendering 1,580 yards in two years is a glaring concern and a testament to the risks he often takes on the field. It’s this duality that makes him both thrilling to watch and occasionally nerve-wracking for fans.
Yet, the 2022 season showcased a maturing Diggs. While his interception tally wasn’t as extravagant as the previous year, his improved consistency was evident. Diggs gave up fewer big plays and seemed more measured in his approach. And with Stephon Gilmore now lining up opposite him, this dynamic is set to change further, and in all likelihood, for the better.
Gilmore, a seasoned pro, has seen it all. His masterful understanding of the cornerback position, combined with his technical prowess, offers Diggs an unparalleled learning opportunity. Gilmore can help refine the younger cornerback’s approach, striking a balance between instinctive playmaking and solid coverage.
All in all, the combination of Diggs’ raw talent and Gilmore’s refined expertise can be transformative for the Cowboys’ defense. As the young star continues to develop and harness his craft, the NFL might just witness the rise of one of the most best cornerback duos in recent memory. The 2023 season beckons, and the Cowboys have their defensive aces ready.
Honorable Mention – Jalen Ramsey
Football isn’t just about the touchdowns, yardage, or statistics on paper. It’s about the grit, resilience, and heart players bring to the gridiron. Among those names that stand tall is Jalen Ramsey. It’s quite the twist of fate that a player of his caliber finds himself as an “honorable mention.”
The reality is, under normal circumstances, Ramsey is easily a top-3 cornerback in the league. But the cruel twist of an unexpected knee injury during training camp has thrown a temporary spanner in the works, sidelining him for the initial weeks of the season. This isn’t to say his past year was smooth sailing; getting beat for a career-high seven touchdowns as the Rams’ defense wavered was an anomaly in his otherwise illustrious career.
Yet, even in a season that may have been considered “off” by his standards, Ramsey’s prowess shone through. His knack for immaculate coverage, coupled with his unique ability to juggle responsibilities both in the slot or the box, is what sets him apart. Now under the tutelage of Vic Fangio, the mastermind behind the defensive scheme that elevated Ramsey’s game in L.A., expectations are soaring. The Miami shores might just witness peak Ramsey in 2023.
The beauty of Jalen Ramsey’s journey in the NFL is the testament to his adaptability. From distinct roles in different defensive structures to being the linchpin in run defense, his versatility remains unparalleled. His recent move from L.A. Rams to the Miami Dolphins brings forth a fresh challenge, but if history is any indicator, Ramsey thrives under change.
Reflecting on his illustrious career, Ramsey’s accolades speak volumes. From Pro Bowl appearances to All-Pro honors and even aiding the Rams clinch Super Bowl LVI, his impact is undeniable.
Injuries and transitions are but a blip in the storied career of a player like Ramsey. If anything, they’re a testament to his resilience. The league better watch out because once healed, Ramsey is bound to hit the field with a vengeance, reaffirming his status as one of the elite cornerbacks.
#3 – Jaire Alexander
A cornerback’s prowess is often judged not only by their ability to prevent big plays but also by their resilience in bouncing back from challenges. Jaire Alexander embodies that resilience.
After a challenging 2021 where injury woes kept him away from the turf, doubters emerged, questioning his potential comeback. But 2022 silenced all naysayers. Returning to the field with vigor and undeniable skill, Alexander reminded the league why he’s considered one of the cornerbacks to watch.
His unmatched ability to mirror the game’s top receivers makes him an indispensable asset to the Packers’ defense. Handing over only 366 air yards on 82 targets isn’t a mere statistic – it’s a testament to his exceptional talent. The low QB rating against him further validates his status as an elite cornerback.
His impressive performance metrics speak volumes about his technical proficiency, but it’s his recovery from injury that highlights his mental fortitude. In a league where injuries can often define careers, Alexander’s 2022 season serves as a masterclass in determination and resilience.
His physical attributes – the blend of size, speed, and aggression – combined with his tactical acumen make him a defensive nightmare for opponents. Alexander doesn’t just cover wide receivers; he smothers them, making every catch a battle and every yard hard-earned.
The Green Bay Packers have had their defensive struggles, but Alexander stands as a beacon of consistency. The Packers recognized his worth, locking him in with a contract extension, cementing his place as the cornerstone of their defense.
With a youthful zest and unmatched potential, Alexander’s journey in the NFL is only starting to peak. Paired with the likes of Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas, Green Bay’s cornerback trio has the potential to turn games on their head, making them a formidable defensive unit.
In a league rife with competition, Jaire Alexander has carved a niche for himself. A mix of innate talent, relentless work ethic, and undying spirit, Alexander’s trajectory is one to watch closely. As the 2023 season dawns, the league should be prepared – Alexander is here to make a statement.
#2 – Patrick Surtain
Football is a sport steeped in tradition and legacy, and sometimes, that legacy is carried forth by bloodlines. Patrick Surtain is a living testament to this. The shadow of a legendary NFL player is often hard to step out from, but young Surtain, in his own right, has not only stepped out but also created a luminescent spotlight of his own.
While Denver’s overall defense might have seen a dip in performance in 2022, Surtain held firm, standing tall as an immovable pillar. Those who dared test his prowess were met with swift disappointment. The statistics only tell a part of his story; it’s the intangible aura of invincibility around him that makes him stand out.
Physically, he is a marvel. With metrics that would make any scout’s eyes widen, Surtain brings to the field an imposing presence that makes receivers second-guess their routes. But it’s not just his size; it’s how he uses it. His agility, timing, and innate sense of the ball’s trajectory make him a nemesis for any quarterback. His ability to shut down top receivers is not just a testament to his talent but also to his meticulous preparation and understanding of the game.
The increase in his PFF coverage grade from his rookie year to the next demonstrates his adaptability and commitment to honing his craft. It’s evident in how he’s been playing – a consistent force, hardly allowing yards, and becoming a true no-fly zone in his territory.
While the Broncos’ team performance might not have given him the national spotlight he deserves, those in the know, those who watch the tapes and study the plays, recognize his brilliance. He is no longer just the son of a legend; he is Patrick Surtain, an emerging legend in his own right.
As he gears up for his third season, the NFL should be on alert. For in Denver, there’s a storm brewing on the defensive end, and its name is Patrick Surtain.
#1 – Sauce Gardner
In the age of sophisticated offenses and legendary quarterbacks, it’s a cornerback’s task to ensure their team’s air defense is impenetrable. Gardner made this abundantly clear from his very first game. With a staggering 20 passes defended, he didn’t merely participate; he dictated the game’s tempo. Quarterbacks who dared target Gardner were met with a meager success rate, leaving them to think twice about throwing in his direction.
For many rookies, adjusting to the NFL’s tempo and skill level is a steep learning curve. Not for Gardner. His interception statistics were awe-inspiring, but it was his ability to force incompletion after incompletion that was truly mesmerizing. Every time the ball soared towards his designated receiver, Gardner was there, a living embodiment of the ‘no-fly zone’.
His physique and athleticism play a considerable part in his success. Standing at 6-foot-3, he possesses the height to contend with the league’s taller receivers, while his 200-pound frame is perfect for withstanding and delivering robust physical contact. Yet, it isn’t just about raw athleticism; his football IQ is through the roof. The rookie’s anticipation of plays is on par with seasoned veterans, and his knack for interpreting receiver routes is downright uncanny.
The Big Apple is no stranger to sports legends. From Babe Ruth to Joe Namath, New York has seen its fair share of greats. Gardner, representing the Jets, seems destined to etch his name among these hallowed ranks. While comparisons to iconic seasons like Darrelle Revis in 2009 or Champ Bailey in 2006 might be premature, there’s no denying Gardner’s prodigious talent and promise.
In a league constantly evolving, where offensive schemes become increasingly intricate with every passing season, the value of a cornerback who can adapt, anticipate, and shut down plays cannot be overstated. Gardner embodies all these traits and more.
There’s a new guardian of the end zone in town, and his name is Sauce Gardner. Opponents, be wary: testing this young titan might just leave a sour taste in your mouth. Who is the best cornerback in the NFL? The answer is Sauce Gardner.
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