The NFL is and will likely for the foreseeable future be a passing league. Because it is, cornerbacks have arguably never been more important. They have the primary coverage assignment on the league’s top pass-catchers, and thus have arguably the most responsibility for disrupting an opponent’s passing game.
The secondary tends to be a weak-link system where the whole can either be better or worse than the sum of its parts, but having a top-flight player at the position tends to make things easier for everyone else on the field. In the space below, we’re going to walk through the top 10 players at this important spot for the 2023 season.
Just missed (alphabetical order): A.J. Terrell, Falcons; Carlton Davis, Buccaneers; Charvarius Ward, 49ers; Denzel Ward, Browns; Jamel Dean, Buccaneers; James Bradberry, Eagles; Marshon Lattimore, Saints; Tariq Woolen, Seahawks; Tre’Davious White, Bills; Xavien Howard, Dolphins
Gilmore might be headed into his age-33 season and he is obviously no longer at his Defensive Player of the Year peak. But over the past two seasons he has recaptured something close to top form, and is one of just four players league-wide to rank inside the top 15 in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades in both 2021 and 2022. (The other three are also on this list.) Heading to Dallas to play for Dan Quinn and across from Trevon Diggs (more on him in a minute), Gilmore should be able to shine even as he approaches his mid-30s.
Horn has been a bit overshadowed by another star corner selected one pick after him in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he put together a terrific sophomore campaign and should only get better. Last season he allowed just 28 completions and 310 yards in coverage, with zero touchdowns against three interceptions and three pass-breakups, according to PFF. His ability to move into the slot and line up in the box make him more versatile than your typical perimeter…