2023 NFL player rankings: Cornerbacks

Just like any other year, there will be a lot of competition when it comes to the best cornerbacks in 2023.

It’s a position that seems to attract players with big egos who take pride in being the best. That’s at least part of the reason why it’s hard to distinguish between the top cornerbacks in the NFL year after year.

Ranking the 10 best cornerbacks in 2023

Who are the best NFL cornerbacks currently? Well, we created a long list of contenders before narrowing it down to the top 10.

Of course, we know there is a lot of room for debate among the corners on this list. But here is our list of the 10 best cornerbacks in 2023.

10. Charvarius Ward

It’s no coincidence that Charvarius Ward played for one of the best defensive teams in the NFL last season after signing with the 49ers. Of course, the San Francisco defense would have been good without him, but Ward clearly helped take the 49ers to a new level with his coverage skills.

He’s obviously not one of the highest-paid corners in the league, nor does he have the resume of the other top corners in the league. But he was an underrated part of Kansas City’s success for several years and has continued to excel with the 49ers, which is why Ward deserves to be mentioned among the NFL’s top corners.

9. James Bradberry

Despite becoming something of a scapegoat in the Super Bowl last season, James Bradberry still needs to be mentioned among the best corners in the NFL right now. Keep in mind he was a Second-Team All-Pro last year, playing a pivotal role in helping the Eagles get to the Super Bowl in the first place.

That controversial penalty in the Super Bowl aside, the Eagles knew what they had in Bradberry, which is why he got an extension this offseason. He should be ready to put that penalty behind him and have another strong season in 2023.

8. Stephon Gilmore

More than a decade into his career, Stephon Gilmore refuses to go away. Now with the Cowboys, Gilmore will be playing for his fourth different team in four years this season. Yet, he still figures to be one of the best cornerbacks in 2023.

Gilmore missed some time in 2020 and 2021, but he came back strong in 2022, playing 16 games for the Colts with two interceptions and 11 defended passes. As a five-time Pro Bowler, Gilmore brings a wealth of experience to the table that few corners in the league can match. Keep in mind that he’s still only a few years removed from being the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, so there is still every reason to believe Gilmore belongs among the top corners in the NFL.

7. Trevon Diggs

Teams finally figured out not to throw the ball toward Trevon Diggs last season after he collected 11 interceptions in 2021. Of course, Diggs still had three picks and 14 defended passes in 2022 on his way to being named to the Pro Bowl for the second straight season.

It seems like Diggs has been around a lot longer than he has, but he only has three seasons under his belt. That means he should be entering his prime years and is poised for another impressive campaign in 2023.

6. Marshon Lattimore

It’s a little tempting to forget about Marshon Lattimore after a kidney injury limited him to seven games last season. But there’s no reason to think that he’s not capable of getting back to the same level he was before the injury.

After all, Lattimore has been to four of the last six Pro Bowls and is just two years removed from signing a $97.8 million extension with the Saints. When he was fully healthy two years ago, Lattimore collected 19 defended passes and averaged close to 15 defended passes per year during the first five seasons of his career. He’s very much in his prime right now and Lattimore should prove that in 2023.

5. Darius Slay

For a long time, Darius Slay has been one of the best corners in the NFL. He’s gone to five of the last six Pro Bowls and played a huge role in Philadelphia’s success last season. Slay is good for at least a couple of interceptions every year and impressed with 14 defended passes in 2022.

Even in his early 30s, Slay is showing no signs of aging and will continue to be among the NFL’s elite at his position in 2023.

4. Jaire Alexander

Coming off an injury-plagued 2021 season, Jaire Alexander proved last season that he’s still among the elite cornerbacks in football. There is also little doubt that he’ll be one of the best cornerbacks in 2023 if he can stay healthy.

Alexander finished last season with a career-high five interceptions and 14 defended passes, making teams pay for thinking he had lost a step after his injuries in 2021. Obviously, he was left off the All-Pro Team in 2021 because of the injuries. But Alexander quickly got back to that level last year and should have no problem maintaining that level this season and beyond. 

3. Patrick Surtain II

As the son of a three-time Pro Bowler, Patrick Surtain II has a lot of work to do get out of his father’s shadow. However, he’s well on his way to doing that just two seasons into his career.

Surtain has already amassed 24 pass deflections and six interceptions over two seasons, earning First-Team All-Pro honors last year. He looks the part of a top-flight cornerback with his size and physicality, which is why Surtain played such a big role on a great Denver defense last year. We’re expecting more of the same from him in 2023, especially since he’s only 23 and should have his best years ahead of him.

2. Jalen Ramsey

There’s little doubt that Jalen Ramsey will go down among the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history. He’s been to six straight Pro Bowls, helped the Rams win a Super Bowl, and is also the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history. Obviously, Ramsey’s track record speaks for itself. But he’s still only 28 and very much in his prime right now.

Being traded to the Dolphins in March means a change of scenery and some new challenges for Ramsey. However, playing with a new team should give Ramsey a lot to prove in 2023, which is why he still figures to be among the elite corners in the league this year.

1. Sauce Gardner

After just one season, it’s not a stretch to call Sauce Gardner the best cornerback in the NFL. Not only did he win Defensive Rookie of the Year honors last year but he was also a Pro Bowler and a First-Team All-Pro. That’s what happens when you lead the league in defended passes with 20. Gardner stepped out of college and immediately played at an elite level. He has a chance to be even better in 2023 now that he has a year of experience under his belt.

It’ll be interesting to see if teams are cognizant of avoiding him this season. But even if they don’t, it’s clear that Garner is up for the challenge and figures to be one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL for a long time.

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