Projecting the Top 10 for the 2020 NFL Season: Outside Cornerbacks

Every year the NFL Network does its top 100 countdown based on the previous season. However, that’s the past, and we want to look forward to the future. Four of our writers have put together a 14 part series, predicting our top 10 at each position. We’ve also included the most under and overrated at each position. Today, we continue the series with our top 10 outside cornerbacks.

10) Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles

Slay has been considered one of the top corners in the NFL for some years now. However, with a new era of cornerbacks entering the league, Slay has seen himself fall in these types of rankings. However, in his final season with the Detroit Lions in 2019, Slay still put up two interceptions and 13 passes defended. He would pair this with a fumble recovery and 46 tackles. While he may not be the top guy anymore, Slay is still a corner that you can rely on to make defensive plays.

9) Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints

After his 2017 rookie season that saw several fans and analysts calling Lattimore the best corner in the league, he had a bit of a down year in 2019. Lattimore would put up just one interception but still deflected 14 passes. His turnover numbers were down last season, but he was still a strong tackler putting up 57 tackles and only five missed tackles. Lattimore improved his coverage abilities as quarterbacks only threw a 50% completion percentage in 2019 versus 64.4% in 2018. If Lattimore can capitalize more in 2020, he could find himself much higher on this list in the future.

8) Casey Hayward, Los Angeles Chargers

For some time now, Hayward has been old reliable for the Chargers defense. In his four seasons with the Chargers, Hayward has put up 13 interceptions, and 37 passes defended with two of those interceptions and eight passes defended in 2019. While these aren’t eye-catching, Hayward allowed only a 62.5% completion percentage, 82 yards after the catch, and only had three missed tackles in 2019. Hayward can still ball, so don’t forget his name too quickly.

7) Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams

Some might be surprised by how low Ramsey is on this list. However, looking at his 2019 stats, Ramsey had a bit of a down year. Ramsey would post just one interception, and five passes defended and would allow opposing quarterbacks to throw 66.2% completion on passes his way. On the positive side, Ramsey is still a great tackler having missed just two tackles, and in his time with the Rams in 2019, he would only allow 89 yards after the catch.

6) Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens

Humphrey has emerged as one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL. He is part of easily the best secondary in football, and Humphrey would put up three interceptions, and 14 passes defended in 2019. Not only that, but Humphrey would also force a couple of fumbles and recover three. Pair all this with 65 tackles and a 58% completion percentage for opposing quarterbacks, Humphrey finds himself right in the middle of this list. Still, he could be higher in the coming seasons.

5) J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots

Jackson entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2018, but he was a second-round talent. However, due to character concerns, his draft stock plummeted. After the final picks were made, he found himself without a phone call. Then the Patriots picked him up. In 2019, he showed what he was capable of, putting up five interceptions, and 10 passes defended. Jackson allowed a 53.2% completion percentage on passes thrown his way, and he only had three missed tackles. Be sure to keep an eye on Jackson heading into the 2020 season and beyond.

4) Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers

While some will argue that Sherman is no longer a top cornerback in the NFL, I beg to differ. While he may not be the same press-heavy, lockdown man corner he was during the “Legion of Boom,” he can thrive in the 49ers zone-heavy scheme. Sherman put up three interceptions paired with 11 passes defended in 2019 and nearly tied his best tackle numbers falling four short with 61. He would allow just one touchdown and only 111 yards after the catch on 43 receptions thrown his way.

3) Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens

Peters might be the most controversial placement for these rankings. While most are used to the boom or bust style of play Peters made while playing in Kansas City and Los Angeles, the final 10 games of 2019 when Peters lined up for the Ravens, he was a new player. Peters put up five interceptions, and 14 passes defended, three and 10 of which came with the Ravens. He also would allow just a 55.6% completion percentage on 90 targets. 2020 could be a big year for Peters.

2) Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills

White has quickly emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. After two solid seasons, 2019 was White’s breakout year, putting up 58 tackles, six interceptions, and 17 passes defended. White also became the first cornerback since 2006 to lead the NFL in interceptions and still allow no touchdowns thrown his way. White is tasked with continually following the opposing team’s top receiver each week, and nearly every time was able to either slow them or shut them down.

1) Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots

Gilmore has arguably been one of the best, if not the best cornerback for two years straight now. 2019 saw him post six interceptions along with 20 passes defended. Gilmore has become one of the best lockdown corners in the league, and his technique is a big part of that. Gilmore would only allow a 50.5% completion percentage and allowed zero touchdowns on passes thrown his way. Like White, Gilmore is tasked to lock down the opposing team’s number one receiver every week, and he does it well.

Most Underrated – J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots

With Gilmore getting the spotlight in the Patriots defense, people often overlook the corner on the opposite side. Jackson has only been in the league for two seasons. Still, he was able to put up five interceptions, and 10 passes defended in his sophomore season. Jackson allowed zero touchdowns and held quarterbacks to a 35.6 passer rating when throwing his way.

Most Overrated – Joe Haden, Pittsburgh Steelers

I’ll be honest, when I saw some calling Haden a top-three corner, I thought, “is this 2013?” Don’t get me wrong, Haden has had an outstanding career, and he put up some solid numbers in 2019. However, he had a large amount of missed tackles and allowed five touchdowns. My top five combined allowed just six. With those stats in mind, I just can’t put Haden in the same company. Haden just misses out on this top-10 list.

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