Charlie’s College Football Rankings: Cornerbacks

Charlie’s College Football Rankings: Cornerbacks

by July 22, 2021 0 comments

The college football season is now only about a month away, and that means we are reaching the tail-end of our rankings. This week’s cornerbacks are the second to last rankings we have, with safeties coming up next week. This is a really star-studded group of players, and all are guys who will excite for years to come.

Be sure to check out all of Charlie’s College Football Positional Rankings.

1. Derek Stingley Jr.– LSU

Stingley is the definition of a shutdown cornerback. He was one of the highest-rated corners ever coming out of high school, and in his two years so far, he’s yet to disappoint. Stingley has all the makings of a truly great cornerback. Hips, fluidity, ball skills, route-mirroring, he just possesses it all. Sure, DeVonta Smith did have his number in last year’s matchup, but other than that, Stingley has pretty much clamped everybody he’s faced. After being a consensus All-American in 2019, Stingley will look to back it up with a stellar 2021.

2. Andrew Booth Jr.– Clemson

For a player who was a former five-star guy, and now plays at Clemson, you would expect him to be a little overrated by the media, but somehow, Booth is the exact opposite. He’s a springy player with absurd movement down the field. Last season, on passes 20 plus yards, quarterbacks targeting Booth had a 9.0 passer rating. This number was 5.6 better than anybody else in the country. If you were to look at other rankings, you wouldn’t see Booth’s name nearly as high as he is here, but he will prove in short order why he is one of the premier cornerbacks in this sport. He doesn’t even need a break-out year to prove it, but if he improves just a little, we are looking at a Thorpe Award finalist and a first-round draft pick.

3. Ahmad Gardner– Cincinnati

Another super underrated player is Gardner. A lot of the guys on the Cincinnati Bearcats’ team are wildly underrated, and it makes sense because they are a group of five teams, but at the same time, they’re one of the best teams in the country. The best stat to describe Gardner, he’s let up zero touchdowns since his career began in 2019. It will be interesting to see, however, how he progresses in zone coverage with a new defensive coordinator in town, but his man coverage is probably the best in the country. At 6’2″ Gardner also has a tremendous length that he really knows how to use to his advantage and he’s just such a joy to watch on the field.

4. Eli Ricks– LSU

Stingley’s counterpart on the opposite side of the field, Ricks impressed tremendously as a true freshman. On 19 targets last season, he only allowed six catches. He had four interceptions off of these 19 targets and knocked away three other passes. He is certainly a shutdown man coverage cornerback, as that is what is most required in LSU’s system, but he’s shown the ability to get it done on both ends. Only a sophomore, we will be hearing Ricks’ name a lot more in the next couple of years.

5. Josh Jobe– Alabama

Like his teammate, and 2020 NFL Draft first-round pick, Patrick Surtain II, Jobe is a fundamentalist. His technique is what’s best about his game and he can do it all. Like Surtain, he has gotten burnt his fair share of times, but his overall play is remarkable. Jobe is probably best off in press coverage. We rarely see receivers getting out of his jam effectively and this makes for a pure lockdown guy. If Jobe can nail down his inconsistencies, then we will definitely be calling him a top-three cornerback by the end of the season.

6. Tiawan Mullen– Indiana

The Indiana team is built on toughness and hard work. Mullen has exactly that. He’s a super scrappy corner that has relentless physical pressure. With all these adjectives to describe his play also come the statistics. Advanced stats love this guy, and for good reason. Throughout his career, he has a 23 percent incompletion rate and has only one game where he’s allowed over 40 yards. Mullen also made a play on six balls in 2020, an impressive feat in such a shortened year. Because of his intensity, and pure shutdown ability, Mullen has established himself as the best cornerback in the Big 10, and will be a fun watch this season.

7. Kaiir Elam– Florida

It seems like every year Florida produces a super athletic cornerback, and Elam is next in line. The first thing worth mentioning is that this is a player who’s been inconsistent throughout his career, but the flashes he’s shown are wildly promising. One thing Elam is great at is racking up the stats. He had two picks last year, but 11 pass breakups, ranking him fourth in the nation. In 2019, he had three interceptions and four passes defended. Overall, Elam is a true playmaker and another big-time name to watch out for this year.

8. Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson– TCU

After graduating Trevon Moehrig-Woodard and Ar’Darius Washington, the next men in line step up for TCU. Hodges-Tomlinson is a player with barely any recognition, and he demands some with this upcoming season. For a small corner (5’9″), Hodges-Tomlinson is tremendous in man coverage. On 45 targets, receivers only caught the ball at a 26.6 percent clip. He also ranked second in the country with 13 passes defended. One thing Hodges-Tomlinson did not do last year was get any interceptions, but with all those pass breakups it shouldn’t matter too much.

9. Coby Bryant– Cincinnati

Besides Stingley and Ricks, Bryant and Gardner are probably the best cornerback duo in the country. When we discussed Booth, we mentioned that he led the country in lowest quarterback rating on passes 20 plus yards downfield, well, Bryant is second in this ranking. He was also eighth in the nation with four interceptions and added on an exceptional seven passes defended. Bryant is a corner who won’t make all the highlight plays but does it all for a tremendous Cincinnati defense.

10. Derrick Canteen– Georgia Southern

We’ve talked about underrated a lot so far, but Canteen is probably the most underrated on this entire list. Obviously, a Georgia Southern team is not going to get nearly enough recognition as any other program on this list, but Canteen has done more than enough to get seen by fans on a broader stage. He was tied for the lead in the nation last year with six interceptions and ranked top-20 with nine pass breakups. We won’t be hearing too much from Canteen on the mainstream media but try to keep an eye out because this guy is a fantastic player.

Honorable Mentions 

Mykael Wright (Oregon), Roger McCreary (Auburn), Storm Duck (North Carolina), Raleigh Texada (Baylor), Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State)


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