PFF Cornerback Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season (2024)

The New York Jets boast three top-15 cornerbacks: Sauce Gardner, Michael Carter II and D.J. Reed all find a home in the top 15.

49ers' Charvarius Ward cracks the top three: Ward seems to get lost in the debate when it comes to naming the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but he’s quietly put up the third-best coverage grade over the past two years (88.5).

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Continuing our series highlighting the top players in the NFL at every position heading into the 2024 season, here are the top 32 cornerbacks in the league.

These cornerback rankings consider several factors: PFF coverage grade (which is primarily influenced by plays where the defender was targeted), ability to prevent separation, difficulty of assignment and PFF grade on plays where the players were not targeted.

Adjustments will be made for some players based on their health and snap count while also considering multiple years of context.

Other Position Rankings:

QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | DI | EDGE | LB| S

Full Roster Rankings

1.Sauce Gardner, New York Jets

Gardner has arguably the most impressive start to a career for a cornerback in NFL history, having quickly transformed the Jets secondary into the best unit in the NFL.

The Jets star has earned a 92.1 coverage grade and allowed only 0.53 yards per coverage snap over the last two years, both of which rank first among all cornerbacks in the league. He's had a simply incredible two-year run and will look to continue his elite play in Year 3.

Sauce Gardner: Advanced stats and rank among 142 qualifying cornerbacks since 2022 (playoffs included)
MetricRank
PFF coverage grade92.11st
Catch % allowed50.0%2nd
Passer rating allowed63.01st
Yards allowed per coverage snap0.531st
Coverage snaps per target9.372nd
Coverage snaps per reception18.742nd
Forced incompletion %25.0%2nd
% of targets that have resulted
in a first down/touchdown
21.8%1st
% of targets that have resulted
in a 15-plus yard gain
1.03%2nd

Grades, advanced statistics and more: Available in PFF Premium Stats

2.Trent McDuffie, Kansas City Chiefs

McDuffie, a 2022 first-round pick, helped lead the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Bowl victories to start his career. He has graded well, earning an 83.8 coverage grade that ranks seventh at the position over the last two years. However, he excels at preventing separation, rushing the passer and stopping the run, giving him an elite all-around game.

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3.Charvarius Ward, San Francisco 49ers

Ward seems to get lost in the debate when it comes to naming the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but he’s quietly put up the third-best coverage grade over the past two years (88.5). Perhaps it’s the overall strength of the 49ers team, the number of other superstars who overshadow him or the fact he plays on the West Coast, but Ward deserves more praise as one of the league's best corners — he has locked down receivers in coverage since arriving in the Bay Area.

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4.Pat Surtain II, Denver Broncos

Surtain’s 2023 season was a step down from his stellar 2022 campaign. But while his PFF coverage grade took a hit in 2023, his advanced metrics looked much better, as he turned in the eighth-best season when accounting for the difficulty of assignment, separation allowed and grading on non-targeted plays.

Grades, advanced statistics and more: Available in PFF Premium Stats

PFF Cornerback Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season (2)

5.Jaylon Johnson, Chicago Bears

Johnson had a monster 2023 campaign, and the Bears rewarded him with a hefty contract this offseason. He finished the year with the highest coverage grade at the position and turned in the sixth-best season by the advanced metrics.

Johnson started to show signs of great play in 2022 when he ranked 26th in the advanced metrics despite posting a middling 65.2 coverage grade. He then put it all together in 2023.

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6.Jalen Ramsey, Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins traded for Ramsey prior to the 2023 season, but he suffered a torn meniscus in training camp and missed the first half of the campaign. He didn’t look like himself when he returned, so he takes a hit on these rankings. When fully healthy, Ramsey is a top-five — if not top-three —cornerback, as his 90.4 grade from 2020 to 2022shows.

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7.Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers

The Packers star is another injury-riddled player who takes a hit on the rankings. Alexander earned a 91.9 grade from 2020 to 2022, the league's best mark over that span. He needs to show he can stay healthy in 2024, as he’s now missed large portions of two of the last three seasons.

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8.Kendall Fuller, Miami Dolphins

Fuller has been excellent for several years now, putting up an 85.0 grade over the last two seasons and preventing separation at a very high level. While he won’t wow on the stat sheet with gaudy interception or forced incompletion numbers, he’s as reliable as they come when it comes to making tackles and being sticky in coverage.

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PFF Cornerback Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season (3)

9.Michael Carter II, New York Jets

The Jets boast two top-10 cornerbacks, as Carter has been arguably the best slot cornerback in the game over the last two seasons. He allowed just one touchdown and eight first downs in 2023, giving up just 0.62 yards per coverage snap. He prevents separation and grades exceptionally well.

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10.Taron Johnson, Buffalo Bills

Johnson has earned an 82.8 coverage grade over the last two years, eighth in the NFL. He is also another player who prevents separation at a high level, ranking fifth in the advanced metrics. The six-year pro has been vital to the success of the Bills defense for several years.

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11.Darious Williams, Los Angeles Rams

Williams has been one of the league's best at preventing separation for several years now, but the grades finally caught up with him in 2023. His 85.3 coverage grade ranked tied for fifth among his peers, and now he returns to Los Angeles, where he posted an 81.9 grade in 2019 and an 81.5 grade in 2020.

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12.L'Jarius Sneed, Tennessee Titans

After helping the Chiefs to two straight Super Bowl victories, Sneed will suit up for the Titans in 2024 and hope to form a lockdown tandem with Roger McCreary. Sneed was often tasked with shutting down the opponents' top receivers, and he did so with mixed results. He didn’t allow a touchdown in the 2023 regular season, and his 79.1 grade from 2021 to 2023 ranked 18th among players at the position.

Grades, advanced statistics and more: Available in PFF Premium Stats

PFF Cornerback Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season (4)

13.Brian Branch, Detroit Lions

Branch made his presence known on the opening night of the 2023 season by taking an interception to the house. While he had some of the usual rookie-year ups and downs, his overall play in 2023 was exceptional for a first-year player. He finished with a 77.7 coverage grade and had the seventh-best season by the advanced metrics. The Lions drafted themselves a steal in the second round of the 2023 draft.

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14.D.J. Reed, New York Jets

Reed has been incredibly consistent for years now, as he’s put up PFF grades above 75.0 in each of the past three seasons. His two-year 84.1 grade ranks sixth at the position.

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15.Rasul Douglas, Buffalo Bills

The Bills traded for Douglas in the middle of the 2023 season, and it did wonders for the defense as it dealt with injuries on the outside in 2023. Douglas’ 82.0 coverage grade ranks 10th among qualifying corners over the last two years, and his nine interceptionsput him second at the position over the same period.

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16.Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens

Humphrey is a top-five talent, but injuries suffered in two of the past three seasons have hurt his play. When he’s at his prime, he prevents separation at a high level and grades very well, having put up coverage grades north of 74.8 in five seasons from 2017 to 2022. The Ravens need him to return to that level of play in 2024.

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PFF Cornerback Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season (5)

17.Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns

Many talented cornerbacks have suffered injuries in the past few seasons, and this bug hit Ward in 2022 and 2023. His grades have taken a hit because of it, but when he’s on the field, the Browns secondary instantly becomes one of the best in the NFL. The former Ohio State star earned an 88.6 coverage grade over his first four seasons in the NFL (2018-2021), the fifth-best mark in the league over that span.

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18.Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dean is as consistent as they come, as he has earned a 70.0-plus coverage grade in all five of his seasons as a pro. He recorded a career-high 18 stops in 2023 and has missed a grand total of 15 tackles in his five-year career.

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19.Trevon Diggs, Dallas Cowboys

This will be a big year for Diggs as he returns from an injury-shortened 2023. After hauling in an incredible 11 interceptions in 2021, Diggs hauled in just three in 2022.

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20.Asante Samuel Jr., Los Angeles Chargers

Samuel has big shoes to fill, but his play over the last two years has shown that he is more than capable of doing so. His 80.8 grade since 2022 is 12th at the position, even though he has given up 11 touchdown passes. He’ll need to prevent separation at a higher rate if he is to move up the rankings.

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PFF Cornerback Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season (6)

21.Devon Witherspoon, Seattle Seahawks

In his first year in the NFL, Witherspoon allowed just 0.81 yards per cover snap and put up a 79.7 coverage grade. He battled with injuries, but his first year was excellent as far as rookie seasons go.

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22.Carlton Davis III, Detroit Lions

Davis has often been tasked with tracking the opposing team’s top receiver, which never results in high grades. The advanced metrics look more kindly on him, though, as he ranks 18th there over the past two years.

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23.Stephon Gilmore, Dallas Cowboys

We may have seen the start of the decline for Gilmore, who has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL for nearly a decade. The 734 yards he allowed in 2023 were the most he’s allowed since his rookie season.

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24.Greg Newsome II, Cleveland Browns

The Browns fielded arguably the best defense in the NFL last season, and Newsome’s play out of the slot was a big reason why. He has earned a very respectable 74.4 coverage grade over the past two years, and his 21 forced incompletions are tied for 20th at the position over that same span.

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PFF Cornerback Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season (7)

25.Tariq Woolen, Seattle Seahawks

Woolen has reeled in eight interceptionsover the past two years, the third-most at the position in that time frame, while his 79.0 coverage grade is good for 20th. With the emergence of Devon Witherspoon, Woolen was perhaps overlooked in 2023, but his overall play was arguably better in his second season.

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26.Roger McCreary, Tennessee Titans

McCreary struggled as a rookie in 2022, but his 2023 season showed why many draft analysts considered him a first-round prospect. He was sticky in coverage and produced a 72.2 coverage grade. He doesn’t break up many passes but racked up 18 passing stops a season ago.

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27.Derek Stingley Jr., Houston Texans

The 2023 version of Stingley is much more of what we expected after he was selected third overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. He followed up a 49.9 grade in his rookie year with an 85.3 grade that ranked fifth at the position in 2023. If he plays like he did a season ago, he’ll find himself in the top 10 of these rankings next year.

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28.Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles

We might have seen the cliff for Slay, as his 65.4 coverage grade marked a three-year low while his advanced metrics looked even worse. His career-long play kept him on the list, though, and he’ll have a lot to prove in 2024 as the Eagles look to get back on track.

Grades, advanced statistics and more: Available in PFF Premium Stats

PFF Cornerback Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season (8)

29.Tyson Campbell, Jacksonville Jaguars

Campbell looked incredible in 2022, earning an 80.7 grade and forcing 10 incompletions, but things took a turn for the worse in 2023. Last season, he broke up just two passes, allowed eight touchdown passes and earned a 56.4 grade. This upcoming season will be a big one for the former Georgia Bulldog.

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30.Jaycee Horn, Carolina Panthers

If Horn can stay healthy, he has the potential to be a top-10 cornerback in the NFL. His 80.3 coverage grade is 15th at the position over the past two years, and his 0.83 yards per coverage snap ranks tied for eighth.

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31.DaRon Bland, Dallas Cowboys

Bland's ranking will likely upset many Cowboys fans. Yes, the 2022 fifth-rounder set the NFL's pick-six record in 2023, and his 14 interceptionsover the last two years paces the league. But he’s almost a carbon copy of teammate Trevon Diggs in the risk-it-all for-the-biscuit style of play.

Bland has allowed 1.35yards per cover snap the last two years, which ranks 111th among qualifiers, while his 1,351 yards allowed is 11th-most. The interceptions are obviously valuable, but that number is not likely to be sustainable long term.

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32.Joey Porter Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers

Porter concludes the list, as he turned in an excellent rookie season for the Steelers in 2023. His coverage grades took a hit the last few weeks of the season but he was still preventing separation at a high level. He allowed just one touchdown pass and just 0.76 yards per cover snap in 2023.

Grades, advanced statistics and more: Available in PFF Premium Stats

Just missed the list: James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles;Martin Emerson Jr., Cleveland Browns;Steven Nelson, Free Agent.

PFF Cornerback Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season (2024)
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