Pro Football Weekly's 2018 CB rankings

Jaguars land two in top 10, but No. 1 becomes the top sniper out west

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Pro Football Weekly’s player rankings are compiled with the help of NFL evaluators and coaches, with input from the entire PFW staff. Players are ranked on their performances to date at positions they’ve played and are not projected at new positions which they might move. Rookies are not included in the rankings. NFL personnel participated on condition of anonymity.

We continue our player ratings with PFW’s top 10 cornerbacks. For the full rankings (1-27) and player ratings for every position, along with team-by-team season previews, get our Pro Football Weekly NFL Preview Magazine on newsstands now and online.

1. Marcus Peters, Rams

Peters is one of the least dependable players in the NFL with questions about his character that have dogged him since he was dismissed from his college team at Washington. He is also the game's most gifted cornerback. There is no evidence he is a bad guy, but there is proof he will freelance and ignore his assignments, most often to make an exceptional play, but occasionally leaving his team in jeopardy. From the Chiefs' vantage point, they sold him cheaply — Peters and a sixth-round pick for a second- and a fourth-rounder — to be rid of him. The Rams' perspective?Buy low seeking a big payoff. It kind of reminds us of when Denver and Wade Phillips took on Aqib Talib. Can’t wait to see what Phillips does with Peters, the NFL's premier ballhawk, with 21 interceptions in his first three years in the league.

2. Jalen Ramsey, Jaguars

In just his second season, Ramsey became the most effective lockdown corner in the game, with 63 tackles, 17 passes defensed and four picks, earning him his first Pro Bowl trip and a selection as an AP first-team All Pro. At 6-2, 208, and possessing 4.4 speed, Ramsey has the size and strength to match up with any of the NFL’s current fleet of jumbo wideouts and the athleticism and speed to take on any of the smaller guys. Ramsey is the prototype for the next generation of top corners.

3. Patrick Peterson, Cardinals

Peterson hasn’t slipped at all, earning his seventh Pro Bowl nod last year in his seventh season in the league. Last season was just an off year for the Cardinals — and the younger Peters and Ramsey reached new heights. At 6-1, 203, Peterson is another of today’s big corners and a three-time first-team All Pro. Another super impressive stat with Peterson: he has started every one of the Cardinals' 112 games since he came into the league, a real rarity at his position.

4. Xavier Rhodes, Vikings

Like our top three, Rhodes is big for the corner position (6-1, 218 pounds) and a former first-round draft choice, which is pretty much where you find the special cover men these days. Like Ramsey, Rhodes also played his college ball at Florida State. Rhodes was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl last season, his fifth overall, and was a first-team All Pro for the first time. While he benefits from playing behind the best defensive line and pass rush in the game, and alongside other great defensive backs in Minnesota in Harrison Smith, Trae Waynes and Terence Newman, Rhodes draws the opponents’ top receiver each week.

5. Casey Hayward, Chargers

The playmaking Hayward breaks the mold of today's top cornerbacks a bit, standing just 5-11 and weighing 192 pounds, but when he came into the league six seasons ago, that was considered pretty good size for the position. Hayward possesses excellent speed and quickness, making him equally adept in man and zone coverages. Last season, he logged 22 passes defensed and four interceptions — which brought his two-year Chargers total to 42 and 11, respectively — en route to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.

6. A.J. Bouye, Jaguars

Bouye made the Houston Texans roster as an undrafted rookie free agent from Central Florida in 2013, spending three years as a bottom-of-the-roster guy. When Kevin Johnson broke his foot at the beginning of the 2016 season, Bouye stepped in for him and became the breakout star of the year in Houston. Last year, Bouye parlayed that one season as a starter into a $67.5-million free-agent deal with the Jaguars that included $26 million in guarantees. He then went out and continued earning it, finishing tied for second in the NFL with six picks en route to his first Pro Bowl honor. Bouye (6-0, 191 pounds) has nice size, and great speed and man-coverage skills.

7. Richard Sherman, 49ers

If Sherman was still the player he was three seasons ago — the best corner in the NFL — there is no way Pete Carroll gives him his walking papers. Yes, Sherman has lost a quarter step, but he can definitely still play. The biggest concerns with Sherman, 30, stem from the ruptured Achilles that cost him the second half of the season last year — after playing in 117 consecutive games in his first six-plus seasons — and recovery from offseason procedures on both Achilles tendons. At 6-3, 195, he’ll rely more on his physicality than coverage skills, and if healthy, Sherman will still dare receivers to come to his side of the field and win every jump ball.

8. Marshon Lattimore, Saints

Lattimore, the first of New Orleans' two 2017 first-rounders, hit the jackpot last year — or maybe we should say the Saints did — as he started 13 games as a rookie and quickly morphed into a shutdown cover corner in the NFL en route to Defensive Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowl honors. The 6-0, 192-pound ex-Buckeye has plenty of length and strength, along with outstanding man-to-man cover skills. Lattimore is credited as being one of the two keys, along with Cameron Jordan, to the sudden resurgence of New Orleans’ long-dormant defense.

9. Darius Slay, Lions

Slay (6-0, 195 pounds) is another bigger corner, who excels in both zone and man-to-man coverage, and isn’t afraid to come up and get physical. He doesn’t appear to fear any receiver, while locking down the strong side of the field for the Lions’ defense. He is known in the Motor City as “Big Play” Slay — and NFL evaluators marvel at his ability to almost always show up in the toughest spots and biggest moments for the Lions. His best season came in 2017, with a league-leading eight picks, earning him first-team All Pro honors and his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

10. Stephon Gilmore, Patriots

The Patriots shocked the entire league when they uncharacteristically leapt into the 2017 free-agent market to hand Gilmore, who had played well but never up to his former No. 10 overall draft status, a $65-million deal including $31 million guaranteed — particularly stunning because their own Pro Bowler, Super Bowl XLIX hero and now-Titans CB Malcolm Butler, was entering a contract year. Gilmore started slow, but over the second half of the season, he really began to excel, and by the time the playoffs and Super Bowl arrived, he was taking away the other teams' top receiver and dominating in coverage.

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