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Ranking the Top 30 Cornerbacks for the 2018 NFL Season

image courtsey of cbssports.com

The cornerback position is unique in the NFL.  Some play slot, while others are tasked to following around the opponent’s number one wide receiver.  Some hardly see action because quarterbacks are afraid to look their way.

With all this emphasis on the quarterback, the cornerback becomes more and more important.

For your IDP leagues here are the top 30 cornerbacks:

30. Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears

In 2017, Fuller emerged as the shutdown corner the Bears imagined.  Fuller collected 53 solo tackles with 22 passed defended and two interceptions.

29. Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals

Dennard had been slowed by injuries, which resulted in loss of playing time.  However, in 2017, he played all 16 games, he was in on 901 defensive snaps (second best on his team).

Finished the season with: 1 forced fumble; 2 sacks; 2 interceptions; 6 passes defended; 61 solo tackles; and 1 touchdown.

28. Aaron Colvin, Houston Texans

Colvin’s stats aren’t eye-pooping, but considering how loaded the Jacksonville Jaguars secondary was, that’s not surprising.

What is surprising?  According to Pro Football Focus, Colvin allowed  0.76 yards per cover snap.  The fifth-best among 34 cornerbacks that played at least 200 passing downs.



27. Ronald Darby, Philadelphia Eagles

Forget the last minute trade and the dislocated ankle of 2017.  Darby played in eight games and amassed 34 tackles, nine pass defended and three interceptions.  Opposing quarterbacks could only muster a 57.2 passer rating against him, per Pro Football Focus, eight games!

26. Rashaan Melvin, Oakland Raiders

Last season Melvin played in 10 games before injury.  He finished the 10 games with 13 passes defended, 36 tackles and four interceptions.

25. James Bradberry, Carolina Panthers

Bradberry finished last year with more tackles than any other cornerback in the league, with 85.  But his interceptions and passes defended, two and 10 respectively, did not increase from his rookie year.

24.Brandon Carr, Baltimore Ravens

In the 2017 season, Carr finished the season with 59 tackles, four interceptions, and 12 passes defended (high for the team).



23. Brent Grimes, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Grimes played in 13 games in the 2017 season.  In those games he collected three interceptions and 11 passes defended and 49 combined tackles.  Respectable stats for a defense that gave up 260.6 yards per game (32nd in league).

22. Malcolm Butler, Tennessee Titans

Forget the Super Bowl snub. Butler experienced a slight regression during the 2017 season, including giving up six touchdowns in his coverage.  But he also had 60 combined tackles, 12 passes defended, two interceptions and one sack.

21. Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens

Smith will be suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season.  Last season Smith played on an injured Achilles.  In 12 games he amassed 26 solo tackles, nine passes defended, three interceptions and one forced fumble resulting in a touchdown.  In eight of the twelve games he gave up 12 catches and no touchdowns.

20. Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots

Gilmore started the 2017 season off slow, but finished strong.  In 13 games played, Gilmore finished the season with 50 combined tackles, nine passes defended, and two interceptions.  He made his first entry in Pro Football Focus top 101 players last season, coming in at 73.



19. Josh Norman, Washington

Norman stats are seemingly not top 30 material, but look closer.  Opponents attempted 531 passes against Washington last season.  Norman was targeted 49 times, 9.2 percent.  That stat is enough to land him here.  But there are questions, last season he gave up three touchdowns, combine that with zero interceptions and his time in the top 30 hangs precipitously.

18. Patrick Robinson, New Orleans Saints

After having a questionable pre-season last year, Robinson dominated.  His season ending stats were one sack, 18 passes defended,  four interceptions and 47 tackles, including an interception returned for a touchdown in the NFC Championship game.  Philadelphia Eagles loss equals Saints gain.

17. Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons

For the 2017 season, Trufant collected 34 solo tackles, two tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries, one sack, 12 passes defended, two interceptions, and a touchdown.



16. Trumaine Johnson, New York Jets

Johnson’s stats for the 2017 season: 57 solo tackles, two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, one forced fumble, and 14 passes defended.

15. Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

Last season Howard picked off Tom Brady twice in one game, only the second player to do so in the last 10 seasons.  He also had two interceptions versus the Denver Broncos.  His season totals included 42 solo tackles, one sack, 13 passes defended and four interceptions.  Howard is trending up.

14. Trae Waynes, Minnesota Vikings

In 2017, Waynes was the fifth most targeted cornerback in the NFL.  In 16 games he had 57 solo tackles, one sack, 11 passes defended, and two interceptions.  Statistically better in the run defense than pass defense, Waynes managed to shake off his propensity for penalties and make strides towards a complete package in 2017.

13. Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota Vikings

Rhodes finished the 2017 season with 44 solo tackles, 10 passes defended and two interceptions.  While his stats look pedestrian, remember this stat; since 2016 Rhodes has held Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., and A.J. Green to a combined nine catches for 94 yards when the ball comes into his domain.

12. Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers



It is well documented that Sherman’s season and tenure with the Seattle Seahawks was cut short last season with an Achilles injury.  In the nine games he played last season, Sherman collected 25 solo tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions.

Per Pro Football Focus, Sherman has not allowed a passer rating above 75.5 percent in his coverage, and that was last year’s truncated season.  He has gone 94 consecutive games without giving up 100 yards into his coverage.  And this is whether he is staying on the right side of the opponent or shadowing their best receiver for the game.

11. Marcus Peters, Los Angeles Rams

There is no doubt that Peters is gifted.  But those gifts bring him into the boom or bust status.  Over three seasons he has 34 pass breakups and 21 interceptions.  He also has given up 15 touchdowns.  Last season in Kansas City he played 14 games.  In those games he had 42 solo tackles, five interceptions, nine passes defended and four forced fumbles.

The question this season in Los Angeles is will he be the more focused for a boom, or lose it and be a bust?

10. Darius Slay, Detroit Lions

Led the league in interceptions totaling eight with 13 passes defended.  He also gave up over 700 yards and three touchdowns.  Add in his 54 solo tackles, one forced fumble, and one sack and you see how he is in the top 10.

9. Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos

Constantly underrated Harris Jr. is possibly the best slot corner in the league.  He plays outside but goes to the slot in sub packages, where he excels.  Last season, Harris lined up 62.4 percent of the time in the slot, and according to Pro Football Focus his catch rate was the lowest allowed in the league.  But Harris also is very good at locking down the number one or two receivers on the outside also.  For example in two seasons 2013-2015, he did not allow a touchdown until Antonio Brown scored two on him in one game.

That was then, but now even with 2017 being a statistically down season, with 24 solo tackles, seven passes defended, two interceptions and one forced fumble, he is still an elite cornerback.

He had the second most coverage snaps from the slot per reception allowed.  And he remains one of the best tacklers at the position, missing only one tackle a season ago in 45 attempts, earning a top 10 run defense grade at his position.

With the departure of Aqib Talib, Harris is now in line to be the most talked about member of the Broncos’ secondary.



8. Kendall Fuller, Kansas City Chiefs

Last season in Washington, Fuller played the slot and excelled.  His 0.74 yards per route run allowed was the best among those targeted 40 or more times and the third lowest among slot corners.  He also allowed a miserly 55.0 passer rating when covering the slot.

Fuller was the antithesis of the sophomore slump.

7. Aqib Talib, Los Angeles Rams

Talib’s stats regressed last season, amassing only 23 solo tackles and one interception, he added one forced fumble and 7 passes defended that was with a change in scheme.  Still he only allowed 250 receiving yards for the season.

Now he is reunited with Wade Philips and the man coverage scheme that saw he resurgence in 2015-2016, where both seasons he had over 40 total tackles and three interceptions.  In both seasons he had double digits passes defended and three touchdowns, two in 2015 and one in 2016.

What remains to be seen is if being reunited will feel so good.

6. Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills

White finished his rookie season 2017 with 53 solo tackles and four interceptions.  He also added 18 passes defended and two fumble recoveries, one returned for a touchdown.

After all this he was named Pro Football Focus’ top rookie of the year.



5. Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars

Yes, there is the talk.  But oh yes, he can actually walk the walk. Last season he was targeted 92 times in coverage allowing a 51.1 percent pass completion.  He had 10 passes defended and four interceptions.

Per Pro Football Focus, among the 73 NFL cornerbacks playing at least 350 coverages snaps, Ramsey ranked 10th in passer rating allowed and 12th in catch percentage.  He allowed a first down or touchdown on just 9-of-34 critical down targets in 2017.

Throwing shade is the least of his talents.

4. Casey Hayward Jr., Los Angeles Chargers

Last season Hayward earned the second highest Pro Football Focus cornerback rating, scoring a 96.4.  The only cornerback to score higher is the recently retired Darrelle Revis, who earned a 96.6 in 2009.

He allowed 42.7 percent of passes thrown in his coverage to be caught, while collecting 15 passes defended, and four interceptions.  And for good measure add in 33 solo tackles.

3. William Jackson III, Cincinnati Bengals

In his second season in the NFL, Jackson allowed only 34 percent of the passes thrown his way to be caught, yielding a passer rating of 36.1, second only to AJ Bouye.  And let’s talk dominance, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, as Jackson was targeted seven times when covering Antonio Brown.  Jackson did not allow a single catch while also tallying four pass breakups.



2. Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints

This rookie allowed a passer rating of 45.3 on passes thrown in his coverage, the third lowest mark in the league.

Named the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Lattimore gave up a first down or touchdown on only 27.9 percent of his targets according to the Pro Football Focus matrix.

In the regular season he led all rookies in interceptions and passes defended.

1. A.J. Bouye, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bouye was historically good in 2017.  His 31.6 percent passer rating allowed for balls thrown into his coverage is the lowest recorded on Pro Football Focus for an outside cornerback.  He also did not allow a touchdown all season.

True he is tasked with covering the opponents WR2 and WR3, but he still never gets beat deep and simply dominates the opposition.

 

Sure there are many deserving, but these are 30.  Who did I miss and why should they be included? Shout!

Follow me on Twitter @neverenoughglt

 

 

 

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