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Treash: 2022 NFL outside cornerback rankings and tiers | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics

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The rise in dominant outside receivers makes it all of the more necessary for NFL defenses to take a position in top-tier outside cornerbacks — the fellows who’re tasked with shutting down opposing passing attacks.

Below are PFF’s top 32 outside cornerbacks entering the 2022 NFL season, starting with Los Angeles Rams star Jalen Ramsey. Consider that the cornerback position has a steep learning curve, hence why a few of the 2022 NFL Draft‘s promising rookies didn’t make the cut.

Tier 1: Elite

1. JALEN RAMSEY, LOS ANGELES RAMS

Ramsey generated 1.37 PFF Wins Above Substitute (PFF WAR) in his two full seasons with the Rams, making him the NFL’s most beneficial cornerback over that span. And no other cornerback even crossed the 1.0 WAR mark.

The seventh-year Florida State product has graded out above 70.0 in every 12 months of his profession, allowing a passer rating of only 78.0 into his coverage. He can move seamlessly from the within to the skin while sustaining high-end play, and that’s challenging. The 6-foot-1, 208-pounder is definitely the one defensive back with an 80.0-plus coverage grade from the slot and outdoors since 2020.

2. JAIRE ALEXANDER, GREEN BAY PACKERS

Alexander was the perfect cornerback within the NFL in 2020. He led the position in PFF grade (90.7) while allowing just 353 yards on 76 targets and tallied a combined 17 pass breakups and interceptions, locking down his side of the sector.

Unfortunately for Alexander, injury limited him to 227 snaps in 2021 and prevented him from constructing on that exceptional 12 months. Still, the Louisville product has excelled in one-on-one situations throughout his profession, leading the league in single-coverage grade since 2018. 

3. A.J. TERRELL, ATLANTA FALCONS

Terrell was certainly one of the largest breakouts of the 2021 season — and the lone brilliant spot on Atlanta’s weak defense. The 2020 first-round pick allowed an NFL-leading 0.37 yards per coverage snap — a mark that was just one-hundredth of a yard off from the single-season PFF record owned by Asante Samuel (2010) and Nnamdi Asomugha (2008). He’s proving to be a scheme-versatile player with elite movement skills, speed and discipline. The previous Clemson Tiger has developed right into a reliable island corner, too, shutting down Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and D.J. Moore last 12 months.

4. J.C. JACKSON, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Jackson was a real ballhawk for the Latest England Patriots, which led to him signing a monstrous five-year contract with the Chargers this past offseason. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley now has a cornerback who can assist out in man coverage once they rotate from two-high safeties to Cover 1 post-snap, as they did often last season.

The previous Patriot ranks second in man coverage grade since 2018. He has intercepted 19 passes in man coverage over that span — five greater than the second-place player and twice as many as third place. His mirror ability and poise on the catch point make him a nightmare to throw at.

5. MARSHON LATTIMORE, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Since entering the league as a 2017 first-round pick, Lattimore ranks in the highest five in separation rate and has racked up more forced incompletions (38) in man coverage than another cornerback. Last season was the perfect of his profession from a worth perspective, as he produced 0.61 PFF WAR — the third-most amongst NFL cornerbacks.

Most forced incompletions in a game since 2016 (per @PFF)

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2. David Amerson (‘16 W3 at TEN) – 6
3. Jaire Alexander (‘18 W8 at LAR) – 5
3. Kyle Fuller (‘17 W6 vs CLV) – 5 pic.twitter.com/evkJW1m9GO

— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) October 11, 2021

6. DARIUS SLAY, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

“Big Play Slay” is coming off the highest-graded season of his NFL profession. He played far less at the road of scrimmage and worked in off-zone greater than in another season of his tenure, and it paid dividends.

Slay was rarely caught out of position and didn’t let anything up for many of the season. His 86.2 coverage grade as an out of doors cornerback led the NFL, and he ranked eleventh in each yards allowed per outside-coverage snap (0.79) and percentage of out of doors targets to lead to a primary down or touchdown (29.4%). While Philadelphia’s recent defense struggled at times, it continues to bring out the perfect of Slay.

7. XAVIEN HOWARD, MIAMI DOLPHINS

Howard is the most effective man-cover cornerbacks within the league. Since Miami shifted to being a person coverage team in 2020, the 6-foot-1, 192-pounder has led the NFL in coverage grade in press-man. He has intercepted seven passes and compelled 10 incompletions in man coverage over that span, and he’s given up only 17 combined first downs and touchdowns.

8. TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE, BUFFALO BILLS

White is eying a bounce-back 2022 season after tearing his ACL during Buffalo’s Week 12 Thanksgiving game in 2021. Before his injury, the 5-foot-11, 192-pounder had been nothing but stingy in coverage. He ranks third amongst qualifying cornerbacks in yards per coverage snap allowed since entering the NFL in 2017 (0.87). White can get overly physical occasionally, but he consistently stays glued to his opposition and doesn’t often let up freebies. 

9. MARLON HUMPHREY, BALTIMORE RAVENS

There’s an argument to be made that Humphrey is healthier suited to the slot cornerback list (where he would claim the highest spot), but he lands here because he has played more snaps on the skin since taking up a flexible role. The Alabama product ranked second only to A.J. Terrell in completion percentage allowed on the skin last season (47.8%). His grade on the skin ranks within the 62nd percentile since 2018, while his slot grade places within the 91st percentile.

Tier 2: On the cusp of elite

10. DENZEL WARD, CLEVELAND BROWNS

Ward is amongst a handful of NFL cornerbacks who will be trusted in one-on-one situations, a relentless because the Browns drafted him fourth overall in 2018. Over the past 4 years, Ward ranks second amongst cornerbacks in single coverage grade, first in catch rate allowed (36.0%) and second in yards per goal (5.37). He sticks to his receiver like glue and won’t get beat deep due to his speed. 

11. PATRICK SURTAIN II, DENVER BRONCOS

One 12 months into his NFL profession, Surtain is simply scratching the surface. He’s a complicated technician who looked well beyond his years as a rookie. The 2021 top-10 pick allowed over 60 yards only once last season and led the draft class in combined interceptions and pass breakups (12). The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder earned a couple of poor game grades early on, but he soon righted those wrongs. From Week 7 on, he was certainly one of the 25 highest-graded cornerbacks within the NFL. Surtain could take an A.J. Terrell-esque leap to elite status in 2022.

12. ADOREE’ JACKSON, NEW YORK GIANTS

Jackson has been a brick wall on his side of the sector over the past few years. Amongst qualifying corners since 2019, he boasts the fifth-lowest goal rate (12.0%), sixth-most passing stops (29) and second-fewest yards per coverage snap (0.69). Quarterbacks are largely avoiding him in coverage, and he’s blowing up anything underneath him when given the chance. While the Tennessee Titans did cut him in the course of that stretch, the info speaks for itself. Jackson earned a top-five coverage grade in his first season with the Giants in 2021 and can eye elite-level play in 2022 and beyond on the Meadowlands. 

13. CARLTON DAVIS, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Davis’ size and physicality allow him to be a pass-breakup machine. No cornerback has forced more incompletions over the past three years of regular-season motion than him (45). Davis also leads the league in contested targets forced in that span (71) and has made greater than double the variety of plays on the ball as first downs or touchdowns allowed on such plays.

14. JAMEL DEAN, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Dean is the shining star of the 2019 cornerback class. Despite being a fringe top-100 pick in that draft, the Auburn product leads the category in profession outside coverage grade (87.8). Dean has allowed just 0.75 yards per coverage snap on the skin in his profession, trailing only Richard Sherman and Adoree’ Jackson for the perfect within the NFL.

Tier 3: Veterans with juice still within the tank

15. MARCUS PETERS, BALTIMORE RAVENS

The 29-year-old Peters is coming off a torn ACL suffered right before Week 1 of the 2021 season, ending his campaign prematurely. When he’s healthy, though, there’s no denying he’s liable to provide at a top-tier level. He’s been nothing but a heady, physical playmaker in his NFL profession. Since 2015, no cornerback has tallied more combined pass breakups and interceptions than Peters (83). And remember, he holds this spot even despite not playing a down in 2021. Peters continues to be susceptible to slip-ups given his aggressive nature, but he makes up for it with big plays.

16. STEPHON GILMORE, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

After being the clear-cut best cornerback within the NFL in Latest England from 2017 through 2019, Gilmore’s past couple of seasons have not gone as planned. A handful of injuries prevented him from playing a full workload in 2020 and 2021 with the Patriots and Panthers, respectively. He was still a great cover cornerback in that span, earning a 67.8 coverage grade when on the sector, but his ball production and overall man-to-man ability fell in need of the previous standard he set. Now with the Colts, Gilmore will profit from playing less man coverage. Regardless, he’s not going to be a liability out in Indy.

17. CASEY HAYWARD JR., ATLANTA FALCONS

The underrated Hayward has been the NFL’s most beneficial cornerback since 2016, in keeping with PFF WAR, with all but certainly one of those seasons being played under defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

Most respected cornerbacks since 2016
PlayerPFF WAR 
1. Casey Hayward Jr., Atlanta Falcons3.04
2. Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams3.02
3. Stephon Gilmore, Indianapolis Colts2.31

Even at 32 years old in Las Vegas last season, the 5-foot-11, 192-pounder allowed lower than 30 yards in 15 of his 18 games played. How Hayward will fare in a recent system as he enters his older football years in Atlanta can be something to watch. Going from a system that had him play Cover 3 roughly 60% of the time to something more diverse isn’t going to be easy, but his top-tier coverage ability is unquestionable.

Tier 4: Good players with boom-or-bust tendencies

18. CHIDOBE AWUZIE, CINCINNATI BENGALS

Awuzie joined Cincinnati in 2021 and put together the perfect season of his profession, generating 0.45 WAR (eleventh amongst cornerbacks). He does his best work in zone coverage, where he can use his feel and explosiveness to his advantage. Awuzie’s 14 passing stops in zone last season were the second-most amongst outside cornerbacks. He is probably not a shutdown defender, but he’s going to get the job done on a weekly basis.

19. KENDALL FULLER, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

Fuller transitioned from certainly one of the league’s best slot corners to a formidable outside player with Washington. Since 2020, he ranks in the highest 20 in outside coverage grade (75.3), forced incompletion rate (15.4%) and passing stops (17). The 5-foot-11, 198-pounder really took his play to a different level in 2021, establishing himself because the highest-graded cornerback within the NFL from Week 8 on.

20. BYRON JONES, MIAMI DOLPHINS

Jones converted from safety to outside cornerback in Dallas in 2018, and it did wonders for his profession. His 86.5 coverage grade from 2018 to 2019 made him certainly one of the five highest-graded cornerbacks within the NFL. But after signing an enormous contract with Miami, Jones has struggled to maintain up with that grading pace. While his coverage grade sits at 65.2 since 2020, he plays an incredibly difficult role in Miami, a defense that played more man coverage than another team the past two seasons. Regardless, Jones has still been among the many 30 most beneficial cornerbacks since 2020.

21. TREVON DIGGS, DALLAS COWBOYS

Risk-taking is Diggs’ game. Sometimes it really works, sometimes it doesn’t. His 11 interceptions in 2021 led the NFL, and his 11 forced incompletions tied for eleventh. At the identical time, the Alabama product ranked worst within the NFL in yards allowed (1,068) and penalties (11). Diggs isn’t going to lose many battles on the catch point resulting from his length and ball skills. But while his aggressive playstyle results in high ball production, it also results in busts, which is why he likely won’t place much higher than he does here — a still-excellent spot to be in.

22. JAMES BRADBERRY, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Bradberry enjoyed a profession 12 months in his first season with the Latest York Giants in 2020. He turned in a 79.8 PFF grade, well over 10 grading points ahead of his previous career-best. Unfortunately, Bradberry reverted to his older form in 2021 and saw his grade fall 17 grading points. He still ranked well above the fiftieth percentile in outside coverage grade due to 17 combined pass breakups and interceptions, but he also tied for probably the most touchdowns allowed (8). The brand new Eagle will at all times be a productive player, given his physicality, however it’s going to come back with some bust tendencies.

23. D.J. REED JR., NEW YORK JETS

Reed’s NFL profession took off in Seattle at outside cornerback after he spent two years in San Francisco playing safety and nickel with limited reps. Since 2020, the 5-foot-9, 188-pounder ranks ninth within the NFL in outside coverage grade. Reed will now attempt to sustain that level of play in 2022 with the Jets, reuniting with former defensive coordinator Robert Saleh in a defense he has great familiarity with. While the 2018 fifth-rounder has the requisite length despite being on the shorter side, he still is scheme-limited and never a cornerback you would like playing straight press-man. Reed may have to do just a little bit more of that in Latest York, however it shouldn’t be too drastic to wreck his current trajectory.

24. WILLIAM JACKSON III, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

Jackson’s elite 90.2 PFF grade in his first 12 months starting in 2017 with the Bengals was an ideal begin to his NFL profession, but he hasn’t been capable of sustain that level of play. Actually, the now-Washington Commander has posted two sub-60.0 PFF grades in his past 4 years amid up-and-down game performances. Jackson has shown more consistency when tasked with playing at the road of scrimmage in press-man. He’s played the sixth-most press-man coverage snaps over the past 4 years and ranks sixth in coverage grade on such reps.

25. SHAQUILL GRIFFIN, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Griffin’s five-year NFL profession has been a little bit of a rollercoaster. His resume includes single-season PFF grades as high as 78.0 and as little as 50.7. This past 12 months with Jacksonville — Griffin’s first outside of Seattle — led to a 72.0 mark that ranked twentieth of 120 qualifiers. That grading volatility stems from his man coverage ability. He ranks 18th in profession coverage grade in zone coverage but fifth-to-last when playing man-to-man.

26. DARIOUS WILLIAMS, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Williams is fresh off signing a three-year, $39 million take care of the Jaguars after 4 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. After two years riding pine, the 5-foot-9, 187-pounder broke out in 12 months 3 in 2020. Williams ranked fourth amongst cornerbacks in PFF grade for the 2020 season while allowing under one yard per coverage snap and producing 16 combined pass breakups and interceptions. He’s since struggled to maintain up with that pace. His PFF grade fell by nearly 20 grading points 12 months over 12 months in 2021, although that’s seemingly his floor — a small silver lining. Williams could also be undersized, but that’s not going to stop him from being a playmaker for the Jaguars, no matter whether he continues to play on the skin.

Tier 5: Up-and-comers

27. GREG NEWSOME II, CLEVELAND BROWNS

Newsome is about to take over slot cornerback duties for the Browns in 2022. But because he played just 18 snaps there in college and 102 snaps inside as a rookie in 2021, he sticks here in the skin rankings until he plays a meaningful slot role. 

Playing predominantly on the skin in 2021, Newsome looked removed from a rookie. He flashed advanced one-on-one ability in single coverage, earning a top-10 PFF grade on such reps for the season. The Northwestern product has smooth movement skills and the traits to be a top-tier cornerback within the NFL on the skin — that’s, if Cleveland desires to play him there.

28. JAYLON JOHNSON, CHICAGO BEARS

Mild panic set in once the media saw Johnson running with the second-team unit during OTAs, but head coach Matt Eberflus said it was nothing to look an excessive amount of into. Johnson has already shown enough for his ceiling to be a real CB1. Despite snagging only one interception since entering the league in 2020, the 6-foot, 195-pound cornerback ranks eighth in forced incompletion rate (15.3%) since then. If Johnson can reel in his occasional over-aggressiveness, he can significantly climb these rankings.

29. ERIC STOKES, GREEN BAY PACKERS

Stokes surprised many in his rookie 2021 campaign. While he was a first-round pick, the Packers were thought to have reached on the Georgia product. We now know that was removed from the case. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder finished 2021 among the many 25 most beneficial cornerbacks within the NFL, in keeping with PFF WAR. He allowed the bottom rate of separation on his targets leaguewide (24.0%) and ranked fifteenth on the position in yards per goal (5.9). All of the press experience he got in college is paying off, with him allowing just seven receptions on 27 targets when playing in press.

30. KRISTIAN FULTON, TENNESSEE TITANS

After a lightweight workload of mostly slot snaps as a rookie, Fulton finally got a likelihood to showcase his outside skill set in 2021. He proceeded to post a top-25 coverage grade from that position. Fulton showcased innate playmaking ability with two interceptions, a 16.7% forced incompletion rate (tenth amongst outside cornerbacks) and 12 passing stops (tied for eleventh). He’s at his best when things are kept in front of him, which is what Tennessee’s defense asks of him.

31. RASHAD FENTON, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Fenton has quietly been highly reliable over his three-year NFL profession. Despite being a sixth-round pick within the 2019 NFL Draft, the previous South Carolina Gamecock owns the second-highest profession coverage grade amongst cornerbacks in that class (83.0). He fell within the draft partly due to subpar physical traits for NFL standards, but that hasn’t been a problem. His tackling stands out greater than another a part of his game, as he has missed just twice on 103 attempts since 2019.

32. RASUL DOUGLAS, GREEN BAY PACKERS

Douglas was a pleasing surprise for the Packers in 2021. With injuries mounting within the cornerback room, Green Bay signed him midyear off Arizona’s practice squad out of necessity. He proceeded to post a career-high 77.2 coverage grade — a top-10 mark amongst qualifying cornerbacks. Douglas racked up five interceptions (two pick-sixes) and 7 pass breakups in 13 outings en path to a three-year, $21 million extension with the Packers. All that being said, it’s necessary not to place an excessive amount of stock right into a small-sample 12 months 5 breakout. While Douglas made some incredible reads from off-zone coverage that led to big plays in 2021, he’ll have to stay productive to climb up this list given how he fared in his first 4 NFL seasons.

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