Rating high 10 cornerbacks in NFL for 2021: Jalen Ramsey leads pack that features gifted newcomers


As minicamps across the NFL wrap up and gamers head into their summer season break forward of coaching camp, groups are desperately hoping they’ve made the appropriate choices for his or her roster of their try to dethrone the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A key means to do this shall be to ensure the go rush and secondary are elite, and the latter will contain coming outfitted with no less than one dominant cornerback to assist the trigger. Sadly, not each workforce can boast such a factor, whereas others might need a couple of elite CB to throw at not solely Brady, however any quarterback/receiver combo that comes their means.

With that, it is time to try itemizing the most effective cornerbacks within the league — gamers who’re the gold customary at their place and who routinely affect the end result of video games. Everybody cannot make a high 10 listing, and that is the purpose, however you may imagine a few of these races got here right down to a photograph end. So check out the CBS Sports activities cornerback rankings for 2021, as a result of from incumbents to newcomers, it is a spicy meatball. 

So be certain you seize some water first.

First Out (11-20 unranked): 

You’ll be able to name him J.C., or “Mr. Jackson”, in the event you’re nasty. 

He is undoubtedly been the latter for the Patriots not too long ago, together with 9 INTs in 2020, good for second-best within the league. That just about doubled his earlier breakout season (2019) when he grabbed 5, making for 14 INTs and 24 mixed go breakups within the final two seasons alone. You are going to hear about how a few these within the honorable-mention listing deserved the nod above Jackson, and whereas that time could possibly be moderately argued, did you miss the half the place I mentioned he grabbed 9 interceptions? OK, let me add in how he recovered three fumbles and did this all with solely 11 begins in 2020, and the way his 5 INTs in 2019 have been in solely six begins. If the Patriots do transfer on from Stephon Gilmore, there might be little doubt who’ll instantly placed on the crown of their secondary. The one motive he is citing the again finish of this high 10 listing is as a result of the 25-year-old nonetheless wants to shine his cowl abilities, however he is received loads of time and expertise to do it.

It is time to point out Ward in the identical breath as the most effective.

When discussing these within the new guard at cornerback who’ve established themselves as a part of the “we received subsequent” crew, Ward matches the invoice just like the mouth on a duck. The previous No. 4 total decide (2018) burst out of the gate as a rookie, grabbing three interceptions, forcing a fumble and recovering two en path to Professional Bowl and PFWA All-Rookie Workforce honors — immediately changing into a tog dawg within the Browns secondary. Whereas he did not garner any awards in Yr 2, he did not take a step again in his total manufacturing, and that consistency was once more on show in Yr 3. Ward enters his fourth 12 months with seven profession INTs and 40 go deflections and is seemingly in all places the ball needs to be, typically disrupting both the receiver’s route and/or the go try itself. He is fast, aggressive and performs violent on the level of assault. They do not name him “The Warden” for nothing. In different phrases, receivers are normally locked up till he releases them.

Peters is a combined bag of “eek” and “wow”, with sufficient of the latter to make this listing.

He is a gifted risk-taker whose bodily traits typically delete a few of his errors, as in he’ll quit the massive play a time or two however he’ll most likely additionally intercept the ball twice in that very recreation. The Rams would’ve theoretically beloved to pair him with Ramsey for the long-term, however their cap scenario merely would not enable it going into 2020, contemplating they gave up two first-rounders and a fourth-rounder for the appropriate to signal Ramsey to a deal that made him the highest-paid nook within the historical past of the league. Nonetheless, Peters was productive in his closing stint with the Rams earlier than becoming a member of the Ravens, and whereas some view Marlon Humphrey as the most effective CB on the Baltimore roster — all Peters did was lead the workforce with 4 INTs in 2020. That wasn’t a fluke both, seeing as he delivered three interceptions, 10 go breakups and two defensive touchdowns in solely 9 begins for the Ravens in a cut up 2019 season, happening to land a three-year, $42 million extension within the course of. 

You’d prefer to see extra interceptions from Lattimore, sure, however movie will rapidly inform you why. 

After bursting out of the gate with 5 interceptions as a rookie, phrase rapidly received round that the previous eleventh total decide was not the man to focus on. He landed a Professional Bowl nod in his first 12 months together with NFL Defensive Rookie of the Yr honors, and having just one interception in 2019 did not cease him from garnering a second Professional Bowl honor. That is as a result of he allowed solely a 50% completion charge final season on 88 targets — serving discover that because the Saints’ resident shutdown nook, he is as harmful as he is ever been on the soccer area, INTs or not. The Saints hope issues work out along with his run in with the regulation in March, in order that he can stay on the sphere to assist lead a protection which may have to hold the load in 2021, in what can also be his all-important contract 12 months.

Some groups cannot find one dominant nook, and Baltimore has two.

Earlier than the arrival of Peters in 2020, it was Humphrey’s present at cornerback. And though Peters has solely gotten higher since touchdown in Maryland, from a takeaway standpoint, Humphrey continues to be some of the dominant cowl corners within the league — pushing Peters at each flip. He did not stun the soccer world with interceptions final season, grabbing lower than two in a season for the primary time in his profession, however he was nonetheless very a lot a takeaway machine, evidenced within the truth he pressured a team-high eight fumbles whereas including 2.5 sacks to his backside line together with a career-high 82 mixed tackles. Tasked with taking over a extra expansive function that included blitz packages, Humphrey did not bat a watch. His 2020 season wasn’t as flashy because the 12 months prior from an interception and landing perspective, however the two-time Professional Bowler and 2019 All-Professional was a supernova in different classes that matter equally as a lot.

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5. Stephon Gilmore, Patriots

Whereas harm introduced him down from the highest spot he owned a 12 months in the past, it did not delete him altogether. 

Forward of the 2020 season, Gilmore was already seeing comparisons between himself and Corridor of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, and it stands to logic he’ll proceed to dominate going ahead — as soon as wholesome and in a contractual scenario he is happy with. He was elite heading into 2019, having been a two-time Professional Bowler and All-Professional earlier than happening an absolute tear en route to a different Professional Bowl and All-Professional nod. Tying for many interceptions within the league (6) with Tre’Davious White (hey, there’s that title once more) and Minnesota Vikings security Anthony Harris, Gilmore additionally had two defensive touchdowns and 20 go deflections on a Patriots workforce whose offense regarded like a shell of its former self, forcing Gilmore to gasoline wins on a weekly foundation. Much more spectacular is it was his second consecutive season of 20 PBUs, revealing simply how in all places on the sphere he really is. An allowed completion share of 48.4 and 50.5 in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and whomever he performs for this coming season shall be immediately upgraded. 

Howard is essential to what Brian Flores is constructing in Miami, and he believes he ought to be paid extra due to it.

The 26-year-old and former second-round decide is among the greatest within the league at what he does, and that is not up for debate. Howard is barely a season faraway from having seven interceptions, which adopted up a beforehand career-best 4 in 2017, and quarterbacks solely accomplished 52.4 p.c of their passes in 2018 after they focused him. Howard noticed his INT tally dwindle to just one in 2019, sure, however that was as a consequence of a knee harm that landed him on injured reserve and never as a result of he is a flash within the pan. To say he bounced again in 2020 is a gross understatement, having set a brand new profession excessive with a league-leading 10 interceptions final season, one thing he may thank Byron Jones for — a shutdown nook who simply barely missed the highest 10. Howard is a cornerstone participant any workforce can be fortunate to have, and particularly the Dolphins, who’ve fairly a bit to determine now relating to his pretty new contract extension. 

He is not enjoying within the glitziest of markets, however he’s definitely one of many glitziest cornerbacks round.

The previous LSU star resides as much as his standing as a former first-round decide for Buffalo, being named to the PFWA All-Rookie Workforce. He’d snatch 4 interceptions that season, however that is not the one means he takes the ball away. White has been recognized to pressure fumbles and in addition get after the quarterback as an help in blitz conditions, including to the prowess that noticed him awarded a Professional Bowl and All-Professional honor in 2019 — because the NFL interceptions co-leader and one who’s constantly been a lighthouse for the Payments protection. Not many can lay declare to having 12 INTs of their first three years and a mean allowed completion share of solely 52.4 p.c over the earlier two, and White is seemingly simply getting began, with a four-year, $70 million contract (with $55 million assured) in hand. Add one other three INTs, 11 go deflections and 57 mixed tackles to his resume from 2020 and, effectively, you get the purpose. 

Alexander is one other instance of a participant who would not have gaudy INT numbers however who belongs on this listing.

The 24-year-old is basically simply starting his NFL profession after being given the nod because the 18th total decide by the Packers in 2018, and all he is completed so far is show he is an elite cowl nook. Much like Byron Jones, Alexander can delete half of a soccer area by himself, though his lack of INTs typically make these with an informal eye readily overlook him. To my level, Alexander allowed solely 353 receiving yards in 2020, and that features within the playoffs, whereas enjoying 600 protection snaps — per PFF. However wait, there’s extra, as a result of his 9.1 yards allowed per completion and 4.7 yards per goal with solely two allowed touchdowns in 2020 have been elite sufficient to land him his first All-Professional and Professional Bowl nod (and lightweight years higher than many on this listing), and have been profession lows in all three classes (by a mile). The occasional hiccup apart (hello, Amari Cooper), it stands to motive Alexander is simply getting began, and shall be among the best for some time to return.

Ramsey is perennial downside for huge receivers and quarterbacks, and shall be once more in 2021.

The hiccup for Ramsey clearly has nothing to do with expertise, however reasonably a stumble in 2019 because of his public and tumultuous divorce with the Jacksonville Jaguars that led to missed video games (was he really injured?) and an total unsettled season as he tried to rapidly acclimate to what Sean McVay and the Rams wanted him to right away be. His lone interception was a career-worst — as was his tally of fifty mixed tackles and 66.2 completion share allowed — however with a full coaching camp to return (after having been absent a standard one in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic), it stands to motive he’ll regain true type this coming season, after already bouncing again to a different All-Professional nod and fourth Professional Bowl honor final 12 months. Ramsey is a game-changer of the very best order, as evidenced by his mammoth contract in Los Angeles and the movie to again it up.



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