Cornerbacks are one of two defensive positions in the NFL that command the big-money contracts, other than pass rushers, and their importance is even greater today with the constant rise of the passing game.
In fact, with the rise of the passing game and how often teams throw the ball, it’s hard to determine who is actually an elite, shutdown corner.
But there are some corners that deserve that tag and are, in their way, still shutdown corners.
Here are our top five cornerbacks entering the 2019 NFL season.
5. Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jalen Ramsey was one of the most hyped corners entering the 2018 season, and had he fully lived up to his hype, he would probably be higher on this list. Ramsey is still one of the best corners in the game today, despite allowing 53 catches on 97 targets for 749 yards with a pair of touchdowns. He added three picks to his name last season for some good measure. His incredibly aggressive play makes him streaky, but when he’s on his game, he’s nearly impossible to beat.
4.Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears
Kyle Fuller was tested a lot last season, and, for the most part, he passed the test in a breakout season. He allowed 69 catches on 113 targets for 819 yards with four touchdowns last season, but also tied the league lead for interceptions with seven, nearly matching his career total entering last season (8), and led the league in passes defended with 21. He earned his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods last year as well. He continues to get better and better.
3. Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
For the first time in his career, Patrick Peterson will miss games for the Arizona Cardinals, ending an eight-year streak where he started every game since his rookie season. Despite a nightmare year for the Cardinals, Peterson still proved that he’s one of the best man-on-man corners in the league last season for a team that played zone almost twice as much. Peterson allowed just 30 catches on just 52 targets for 364 yards with three scores. He added a pair of picks last season, keeping him on his interception average of about two-to-three interceptions per year since 2013. It’ll be interesting to see how he comes back from his six-game suspension to start the year if he can still stay on average with his game in a much shorter span.
2. Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills
Third-year corner Tre-Davious White may be one of the best young cornerbacks in the league who’s only getting better. He only allowed 30 catches last season on 52 targets for just 357 yards with a pair of touchdowns. He also added a pair of interceptions last season, two less than the four he recorded in his 2017 all-rookie team campaign and only defended eight passes, down from the 18 in 2017. Some of that is because he didn’t get the ball thrown his way too often last season. His tools continue to grow at the position and it doesn’t seem like he’ll plateau anytime soon.
1. Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
Stephon Gilmore is, quietly, the best corner in the game and the best man-to-man corner not named Patrick Peterson (it’s worth arguing that Gilmore may be better). He easily handles the opposing team’s best receiver, holding wideouts to just 48 receptions on 109 targets for 611 yards last season. His 20 passes defended in the regular season was just one shy of Kyle Fuller’s league-leading 21, and he tallied four picks last year, including one against the Rams that clinched Super Bowl LIII.