The Top 10 NFL Cornerbacks for 2021

Stoney Keeley continues his look at the NFL as the 2021 season approaches. Today, we're looking at the top 10 NFL cornerbacks.

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It’s summertime offseason content time! As the season approaches, I’m going to be taking a look at the landscape of the NFL, position by position, over the course of the next several weeks. We’ll be talking about the who’s who of the NFL in our own little version of the NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players” bit they do every year. Up next, we’re talking about the top 10 NFL cornerbacks for 2021!

Alright, alright, alright – the lists just keep rolling on. We can’t get enough of ’em right now. Let’s shift gears and talk defensive backs. Cornerback is one of my favorite positions to watch on the field. There’s something to be said for the anticipation it takes to play the position successfully. As the league continues to evolve into a more pass-friendly league, something that’s been developing for over 10 years now, it’s harder and harder to play cornerback. It’s even more difficult to play it at an elite level. A good corner vs. a good quarterback and wide receiver makes for one of the best possible chess matches in football today. I’m fascinated by the guys who can just completely lock down their entire side of the field – the guys like Darrelle Revis. The receivers know where they’re going. They know the route they’re about to run. Quarterbacks know where their receivers are going to be. But, the cornerback is just reacting in real time. Sure, they may have an inclination of where a guy’s going to go based on film study, but you never know when someone’s going to change things up. That’s why I think it’s one of the most difficult positions to play, and it’s all the more impressive when a player excels at it. So, let’s take a look at some of my favorites as the 2021 season approaches.

The Top 10 NFL Cornerbacks for 2021

10. Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens have the best cornerback duo in the NFL between Peters and Marlon Humphrey. Where Humphrey excels because of his coverage abilities and versatility, Peters is more of the play-making ball hawk type. They’re the perfect complement for one another.

9. Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns – Maybe it’s because he plays in Cleveland or something, but Ward has done an underrated job with the Browns since entering the league. What I think he may do better than any other corner in the league is move. Ward is a rangy corner whose shiftiness allows him to run with just about anybody in the league.

8. Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints – We’re not too far removed from Lattimore being one of the most feared and respected corners in the league. But, the reality is that Lattimore’s PFF coverage grade has dropped every year of his career, and last season, he gave up a whopping seven touchdowns. The lockdown guy is still in there somewhere, and ultimately, that reputation is what keeps him from falling off this list altogether, but he needs to show back up or Lattimore’s going to keep falling down this list.

7. Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens – Humphrey is as versatile as they come, and with Peters on the other side of the field, that gives the Ravens a wealth of flexibility to line up in multiple ways. Humphrey did not quite make as many plays in 2020 as he did in 2019, but he’s still one of the best pure cover corners in the league, and particularly excels in the slot.

6. James Bradberry, New York Giants – Bradberry maintained a solid level of consistency throughout his time with the Carolina Panthers, but really stood out as apart of the surprisingly good Giants defense in 2020. He proved to be a great agitator, breaking up 18 passes (2nd in the NFL) and forcing two fumbles on the season.

5. Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots – Gilmore was downright dominant in 2018 and 2019 (like…Defensive Player of the Year dominant, right?). He simply could not be trifled with, playing like a true lockdown corner in a system that plays a lot of man coverage. Though he took a bit of a step back in 2020, I’m not willing to give up on the prospects of Gilmore returning to that level of dominance.

4. Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills – White is a ton of fun to watch, as he’s one of the more complete corners in the game. He’s aggressive in run support and blitzes, bordering on reckless, but he complements his game well with a strong play-making ability in coverage. He’s hung around the top five of this list for several seasons now, and barring injury, I don’t see him going anywhere any time soon.

3. Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins – Howard is the reigning NFL interception champion after hauling in 10 a season ago for the Dolphins. Factor in his 20 passes deflected, and it’s easy to see why some think he’s the most disruptive cornerback in the league. He’s certainly a building block in Miami, where his play-making ability gives that Dolphins defense major credibility alongside Byron Jones.

2. Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers – Alexander is just hitting his stride, and could very well take the top spot on this list in the coming years. As far as pure coverage skills, he’s as good as they come, allowing just 353 receiving yards in 2020 (according to PFF). Alexander was PFF’s highest graded corner last season. He has emerged as one of the brightest young players at the position, but his best may be yet to come.

1. Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams – Love him or hate him, no one can deny Ramsey’s ability to just downright lock receivers down. You won’t see a gaudy stat line because opposing quarterbacks just won’t even try him. He’s an aggressive player that isn’t afraid to hit either. Ramsey is a cornerstone type of piece on defense that has been consistently elite since he entered the league in 2016.

OTHER 2021 NFL TOP 10S

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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