2023 Preseason NFL Cornerback Rankings

NFL Cornerback Rankings: Where do LA's finest land compared to the leagues best?

Top 15 Cornerback Rankings

1. Jalen Ramsey, Miami Dolphins

Entering his 8th season, Jalen Ramsey shows no signs of slowing down. According to Pro Football Focus, this past year he had career-highs in pass-rush grade (91.1) and run defense (91.8) grade. He gave up seven receiving touchdowns, had 11 pass breakups, and a career-high in STOPs (27).

He’s the definition of beastly, and when he’s not doing an insanely high jump catch resulting in an interception, or completely bowling someone over with a hard hit, he could just as easily be sacking the quarterback. When he’s on the field, the offense is not safe. It’s going to be interesting seeing him suit up for Miami after spending so much time in LA. He and Xavien Howard are going to be a terrific twosome.

2. Sauce Gardner, New York Jets

Sauce Gardner has a promising career in front of him. In just his rookie year, he had a 90 in PFF receiver coverage, a tackling grade of 75.2, and an overall defense grade of 87.9. Alongside those grades were 60 solo tackles, 16 STOPs, two interceptions, 14 pass breakups, and allowed only one receiving touchdown.

There’s a reason he was picked fourth in the first round this past year. His NFL combine results said that he, “digs the grave and buries an outside release” and that could not be more true. He can hang with high-powered receivers stride for stride, and when they think they have the ball or they have him beat, he’s always one step ahead. He plays like he’s been in the NFL for years, and with a proper quarterback, this Jets team is going to be fun to watch.

3. Patrick Surtain II, Denver Broncos

It’s hard to believe Patrick Surtain II has only been in the NFL for two years because he seems like a seasoned pro. In 2022, he had an overall defensive grade of 86.8 and a receiver coverage grade of 86.7. This guy has the speed and uses it to appear anywhere on the field. And if the Broncos can’t improve offensively this year, at least their defense is on point.

4. Charvarius Ward, San Fransisco 49ers

Charvarius Ward had career-highs for most of his PFF grades last year including in overall defense (81), run defense (91), tackling (90.7), and receiver coverage (76.6). He also had career-highs in solo tackles (79) and STOPs (31). He definitely made his mark in his first season in San Francisco, adding to an already scary defense, and is set to continue raking in the stats this year.

5. Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers

After missing several games in 2021 due to a shoulder injury, it looks like Jaire Alexander is back. He had career-highs in run defense (71.2) and interceptions (five), with high grades in receiver coverage (82.1) and overall defense (80.3). Alexander can be anywhere you need him to be and sticks so close to players during coverage, he’s almost like their shadows. When he’s on the field, insanely good receivers like Gabe Davis and Garrett Wilson don’t stand a chance. Green Bay has kept Alexander around for a reason and he’s definitely a dynamic force on their defense.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
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6. L’Jarius Sneed, Kansas City Chiefs

I can’t have a list without mentioning a member of the 2022 Super Bowl-winning team. L’Jarius Sneed turned up the heat last year and had career-highs in solo tackles (101), pass breakups (eight), STOPs (44), as well as in his overall defense (77.7), pass rush (81.9), and receiver coverage (75.7).

The way he charges at players, especially quarterbacks, is terrifying. His sack in Week 3, when Sneed literally slammed Matt Ryan backward, was just brutal. And he has such a physicality to him that once he’s wrapped someone up, they have no chance. If he can keep up this level of play, he’ll most definitely earn a contract extension for 2024.

7. Tyson Campbell, Jacksonville Jaguars

Tyson Campbell did well for his second season in the league and had career-highs in areas like forced fumbles (one), interceptions (three), gave up six receiving touchdowns, and pass breakups (nine). The second someone catches the ball, Campbell is all over them trying to pop it out, and he often does. You can’t get away from him once he targets you, and he’ll do everything he can to mess you up. Year three looks extremely promising for him as this team looks to build from their Wild Card win last year.

8. Patrick Peterson, Pittsburgh Steelers

Patrick Peterson seems to be getting better with age. His 12th season saw him playing his highest number of snaps ever at 1,176. His overall defense, tackling, and coverage grades were all in the 70s, and he had career-highs in solo tackles (66), STOPs (17), and pass breakups (nine). He’s blocking a field goal, he’s all over the sidelines, and receivers like Jaylen Waddle don’t stand a chance against him. During Week 6 when Peterson was covering Waddle, the two targets that came Waddle’s way resulted in two pass breakups. The Steelers got a good one when they acquired Peterson, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fits into their scheme in his first year with the team.

9. Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens

Marlon Humphrey has been holding it down in Baltimore for six seasons and played the most snaps of his career last year (1,107). After coming back from an injury near the end of 2021, his pass rush grade was drastically up (91.5) in 2022 from previous years, and he had three sacks, one forced fumble, and 60 solo tackles. Humphrey battles players for the ball and can really gun it downfield. He’s definitely worth the high price tag the Ravens are paying him and it’s clear why they extended him in 2026.

10. Kendall Fuller, Washington Commanders

Kendall Fuller had a good 2022 season and got 70s in most of his PFF grades and also had double digits in STOPs (15) and solo tackles (41). Fuller hits free agency at the end of this season and with another good performance, he may be looking at more time with the Commanders.

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11. Asante Samuel Jr., Los Angeles Chargers

I’ve already written a lot about Asante Samuel Jr. and his playmaking abilities. He’s fast, aggressive, and was such a great addition to this team. Some of his PFF grades grew quite a bit from 2021 like in overall defense (72.6), tackling (58.1), and receiver coverage (76.1), and he also had career-highs in the majority of areas like STOPs (15), solo tackles (52), interceptions (five), and pass breakups (11).

He does have issues on the edge, which contributed to some explosive plays taking the Chargers down a notch in crucial moments. As he enters his third season, hopefully, he can improve, and make his way to being more well-rounded at the position.

12. Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles

Darius Slay did really well in many areas last season but struggled in ones like run defense (46) and tackling (57.4). The Minnesota game in Week 2 showed some of his best coverage all season with two interceptions. During that game, Kirk Cousins only had one passing touchdown, marking the only score for the team. Slay and James Bradberry make a good pairing.

13. James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles

James Bradberry is also coming off a good season, but like Slay had trouble in run defense (40.4) and tackling (51.3). He still had double digits in pass breakups (12) and tied with his 2021 season for interceptions (four). He brought a lot to this Eagles team in his first year as he was number four on the team in receiver coverage while Slay was number three.

Bradberry also had the second most interceptions of the team, while Slay had the third most, and there were 18 in total for the team whereas in 2021 there were only 12. Bradberry added some essential coverage and though he wasn’t perfect, he was a key part of the Eagles making it as far as they did.

14. Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

Xavien Howard wasn’t stellar in many of his PFF grades last year but his stats still tell a good story. He had a great run defense grade (84.2), 12 pass breakups, two interceptions, and 40 solo tackles. He was named number 56 of the top 100 players in the NFL and that’s because he’s so reactive and accurate. He’s still playing at a really high level and is one of the threats mentioned right alongside their impressive wide receiver group.

15. Michael Davis, Los Angles Chargers

Michael Davis had an awesome 2021 season with career-highs in all PFF grades and areas like solo tackles (55), sacks (one), and pass breakups (12). He was very much on par with Samuel last year and he was the go-to guy when JC Jackson wasn’t playing well and his season was cut short due to injury. He was so reliable and is going to be counted on this year, especially if Jackson isn’t up to form. It was exciting to see such improvement. Fingers crossed, he keeps progressing so that he gets a contract extension in 2024.