This list includes Denzel Ward, Marlon Humphrey, J.C. Jackson, and Jaire Alexander. All of these players are projected to start at cornerback in the NFL in 2022, and they all have great upside. But which one will win the job? This year’s cornerback class will be interesting to watch.
Denzel Ward’s steady ascent to the top tier of cornerbacks in the NFL helped him earn a second trip to the Pro Bowl after his rookie season in 2018. In his second year with the Cleveland Browns, Ward anchored a relatively inexperienced group of cornerbacks, as the Browns weren’t sure how their young players would fare in their first year.
A former Kansas City Chief, Ward was undrafted out of Middle Tennessee in 2018, but has quickly established himself as one of the league’s best corners. Last year, he played slot corner for the Eagles, where he allowed a passer rating of 84.3 and 9.7 yards per reception.
Marlon Humphrey is a solid secondary player who is expected to bounce back after an offseason in which he was limited to 12 games. In that span, Humphrey had 13 defended passes and one interception. His production as a rookie was impressive, and he’s expected to be even better in 2020 and 2022. In fact, he’s already been named to the Pro Bowl once, and he’s expected to be in the top 10 again.
The Ravens have a lot of talent at cornerback, and Humphrey is one of the top options on their team. The Ravens’ secondary features three former first-round picks, including Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Kyle Fuller. The team also added a playmaker in the draft, in Marcus Williams. This is why the Baltimore Ravens have one of the best secondary units in the NFL heading into 2022.
Jackson is a top-10 cornerback prospect and a free agent in 2018. He was a Pro Bowl selection and Second-Team All-Pro in 2021. According to NFL Media analyst David Carr, Jackson will be one of the top 10 cornerbacks in the next two seasons. His production will depend on his ability to stop the ball and play a dominant role in the secondary.
The top 10 cornerbacks in 2022 class includes a few notable names. The former Kansas City Chief went undrafted out of Middle Tennessee in 2018, but has since established himself as a top cornerback. The Eagles’ slot corner, Avonte Maddox, allowed an 84.3 passer rating last season and 9.7 yards per reception.
Alexander is coming off a shoulder injury that cost him most of last season. Despite missing the entire season, he was voted a second-team All-Pro. His performance last season was impressive considering his limited playing time. He finished third in yards per snap and passer rating, and he intercepted one pass. He also broke up 13 passes. Although quarterbacks did not test him as much, he still allowed a sub-50 percent completion rate and 4.7 yards per target.
Humphrey’s versatility allows him to play outside cornerback. He has the requisite length and is a good blitzer, although he has only recorded one interception since entering the league. He also ranks eighth in forced incompletions with a 15.3% rate.
Ahmad Gardner is one of the top cornerback prospects in the draft, and he has excellent physical attributes. His size and a strong frame are ideal for an NFL cornerback. He can play in a press-heavy scheme and has a good feel for the position. He also uses his length well and maintains ideal positioning.
As a cornerback, Gardner has an especially large role in limiting big gains. He has a five-inch edge in wingspan over Stingley, and he is taller. He was a standout at Cincinnati, making First Team All-AAC three times. In his last two seasons, he allowed just 122 total passing yards against opponents. His strong play last season helped him reach the College Football Playoff semifinals. His selection as a top 10 cornerback in 2022 is a great choice.