Twice a week this offseason Blaine Grisak and Jake Ellenbogen will share their top-10 players from each position in the NFL. We’ll discuss our lists and why we ranked players where we did as well as the position in general.
We also asked the rest of the Downtown Rams staff who their top-10’s were and will have a poll and its results at the end.
In this edition, Blaine and Jake unveil their top-10 cornerbacks in the NFL heading into the 2019 season and who is ready to take that next step.
- Top-10 Quarterbacks
- Top-10 Running Backs
- Top-10 Wide Receivers
- Top-10 Tight Ends
- Top-10 Offensive Tackles
- Top-10 Interior Offensive Linemen
- Top-10 Edge Rushers
- Top-10 Defensive Linemen
- Top-10 Linebackers
1. Jalen Ramsey – JAX
2. Desmond King – LAC
3. Chris Harris Jr. – DEN
4. Stephone Gilmore – NE
5. Kyle Fuller – CHI
6. Patrick Peterson – ARI
7. Casey Hayward – LAC
8. Xavien Howard – MIA
9. Kareem Jackson – HOU
10. Jaire Alexander – GB
1. Jalen Ramsey – JAX
2. Chris Harris Jr. – DEN
3. Darius Slay – DET
4. William Jackson III – CIN
5. Casey Hayward – LAC
6. Jaire Alexander – GB
7. Byron Jones – DAL
8. A.J. Bouye – JAX
9. Xavien Howard – MIA
10. Desmond King – LAC
Blaine: We’re nearing the end of the DTR Top-10, but first, we’ll hit the cornerbacks. Jalen Ramsey is my No. 1 cornerback in the NFL. He had a down year last year, but so did everybody else in Jacksonville. I expect him to get back to that top-5 form. Chris Harris at No. 3 is as reliable as they come and then I have Kyle Fuller rounding out my top-5. Xavien Howard just signed his big deal in Miami and then I feel like I’m low on him, and he could be higher, but Jaire Alexander wraps up my top-10.
Jake: You and I have the same thought process on Jalen Ramsey. He checks in at number one on both of our lists. Let’s not let a down year for an entire organization distract us from the type of career Ramsey is having. At No. 2 Chris Harris is possibly the best NFL slot corner ever, and he continues to overcome injuries. No. 3 goes Darius Slay who might be considered too high, but he’s turned himself into one of the best corners in the game.
Following up with that is one of the biggest things happening in Cincinnati, and that is William Jackson III. He missed his entire first year and then came back to have his actual rookie season and instantly made his presence felt. Casey Hayward is No. 5, and he has been a consistently dominant corner with the Chargers. My top cornerback in the 2018 NFL Draft is next, and that is Jaire Alexander who turned into a star in Green Bay.
Entering the latter half of this list, I have Cowboys former safety turned corner Byron Jones. That maneuver to switch Jones over to cornerback has paid off well. No. 8 is another Jaguars cornerback that also had a rough year AJ Bouye was once in my top three at the position. Xavien Howard comes in at nine as I’m cautious about labeling him a top-5 cornerback
Lastly, number ten goes to Desmond King, who could have been as high as five for me. Seeing what King has done as a cornerback, safety or a returner since joining the Chargers has been amazing. He might be the most underrated defensive player in the game today.
Blaine: Before we dig into our lists, I do want to touch on this from a Rams perspective. If we would have made this list last year, Marcus Peters gets included. The Rams trade for Peters, and he has a very up and down season. He started slow but eventually finished strong. Peters is one of the best playmakers in the game at cornerback. Do you think he gets back to that top-10 level in his second year for the Rams? Then going off of that, do you think he’s a guy that the team tries to re-sign as he enters the final year of his rookie contract?
Jake: I agree to the point where I considered adding Marcus Peters to this list. My only reservation is about Peters being on an island. The best corners can be on their own. However, Peters seemed to need Aqib Talib last year, which is another argument against Peters.
The Rams want to get a deal done with him, and when Steve Wyche of NFL Network came on the podcast, he made it pretty clear that’s what the Rams intend to do. They want Peters long-term, which is why they traded for him. Next year, I suspect Peters will rank in the top ten and mentor young David Long, the third-round pick from this past draft.
It’s also worth mentioning that Peters finished the year strong. His “bad year” has been overblown. That is why. In reality, Peters had a solid year, but to his standards, solid is not good enough.
Blaine: Ya I expect to see a bounce-back year from him and we’ll see if that leads to an extension. My guess is the franchise tag is the likely scenario, but we’ll see. The next player on this list that I want to talk about is Jaire Alexander. I’m not sure the Rams faced a better cornerback in the NFL last season. Alexander was noticeably outstanding in the Rams game against the Packers. Alexander was taken 18th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, but he and Denzel Ward who went No. 4 could push each other for the best cornerback in that draft class. What stood out about Alexander that had him as your CB1?
Jake: Yes, you are right that might have been the absolute best cornerback performance of the year versus the Rams. I liked Denzel Ward, and he kicked his career off with a career-day against the Steelers to open up the season. However, Jaire Alexander’s only issue was his injury history. On film, he’s almost perfect, and he translated great to the NFL.
He’s a 5-foot-11 cornerback that plays bigger than that, ran in the 4.3’s, has unbelievable mirroring skills, is a fantastic man corner, and this is someone that can do anything you ask him to. Alexander is also an “on an island” corner. Leave him out there isolated on Woods, Cooks or an Odell Beckham Jr. and he’s going to give you results.
Alexander might not be the playmaker Ward can be, but as far as lockdown and shut down corners, Alexander is the guy. He knows what needs to be done and gets it done.
Blaine: Alright, so I do want to get into this next class of rookies. Byron Murphy and Greedy Williams led the class. The Rams took David Long. What did you think of the Long pick? I know they passed on players like Justin Layne, Isaiah Johnson, and Amani Oruwariye. Then when all is said and done do you think Murphy is the best cornerback in this draft?
Jake: I think Murphy is the best cornerback in this draft by a wide margin and then I would say Justin Layne is right there at number two. As far as David Long goes, there were players I preferred, and I mentioned it earlier. I was all about Desmond King NOT John Johnson III for the Rams. However, this time, I wanted Justin Layne over David Long. Long is likely another guy the Rams drafted that will blow my expectations.
It still pains me to see guys like Layne, Murphy, and Oruwariye fall in the draft. As far as the best cornerback in this draft, that’s still Murphy.
Blaine: Alright, before we hit our honorable mentions, I do want to talk about the best cornerback duos in the league. A lot of teams focus on building teams inside-out, but being able to build a team outside-in and taking away an opponent’s receiving options is just as important in today’s NFL. Who would your top-3-5 duos be? I like Jacksonville’s pairing of Bouye and Ramsey. Then maybe you go Peterson and Murphy in Arizona. After that, I like what the Chargers have in Hayward and King.
Jake: I think you have to start with Jacksonville’s duo of Ramsey and Bouye for sure, those guys were my No. 1 and No. 2 corners just a year ago. After that, it’s Hayward and King of the Chargers. Bryce Callahan joined the Broncos, and he will be with Chris Harris Jr. which should be a top duo. I think that Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters would have merit in that conversation as well. A guy you like in Mike Hughes could form a really great duo with Xavier Rhodes in Minnesota. Lastly, I’ll mention most underrated duo in Buffalo with Tre’Davious White and emerging rookie talent Levi Wallace who was fantastic last year.
Blaine: Alright, let’s finish with our honorable mentions. I like Byron Jones in Dallas. Darius Slay would also be right on the edge for me as well as William Jackson III and Tre’Davious White. Who just missed the cut for you?
Jake: Yeah, so guys that missed the cut for me would be Xavier Rhodes, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Bryce Callahan, Kyle Fuller, Trevor Williams, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Tre’Davious White, Marshon Lattimore, Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Peterson, Kareem Jackson, Pierre Desir, and Marlon Humphrey.
Blaine: Great stuff! Alright, Jake, we’ll finish off the DTR Top-10 next week with our safeties.
DTR Top-10 (First Place Votes)
1. Jalen Ramsey – JAX – 73 (5)
2. Stephone Gilmore – NE – 59 (3)
3. Chris Harris Jr. – DEN – 54
4. Patrick Peterson – ARI – 42
5. Casey Hayward – LAC – 31
6. Tre’Davius White – BUF – 26
7. Xavien Howard – MIA – 25
8. Darius Slay – DET – 23
9. Kyle Fuller – CHI – 19
10. Desmond King – LAC – 14
Others Receiving Votes: Marshon Lattimore – NO, Denzel Ward – CLE, A.J. Bouye – JAX, Xavier Rhodes – MIN, William Jackson III – CIN, Jaire Alexander – GB, Marcus Peters – LAR, Marlon Humphrey – BAL, Byron Jones – DAL, Kareem Jackson – HOU
Tyler Browning: 1. Jalen Ramsey, 2. Stephon Gilmore, 3. Chris Harris, 4. Tre’Davius White, 5. Patrick Peterson, 6. Marshon Lattimore, 7. Casey Hayward, 8. Byron Jones, 9. Xavien Howard, 10. Darius Slay
Dan Gleason: 1. Stephon Gilmore, 2. Jalen Ramsey, 3. Xavier Rhodes, 4. Chris Harris Jr., 5. Xavien Howard, 6. Tre’Davious White, 7. Patrick Peterson, 8. A.J. Bouye, 9. Marshon Lattimore, 10. Casey Hayward
Alexis Kraft: 1. Stephen Gilmore, 2. Denzel Ward, 3. Jalen Ramsey, 4. Chris Harris Jr, 5. Patrick Peterson, 6. Kyle Fuller, 7. Desmond King, 8. Marathon Lattimore, 9. Darius Slay, 10. Xavien Howard
Max Perez: 1. Jalen Ramsey, 2. Stephon Gilmore, 3. Chris Harris Jr., 4. Casey Hayward, 5. Patrick Peterson, 6. Kyle Fuller, 7. Darius Slay, 8. Xavier Howard, 9. Denzel Ward, 10. Marlon Humphrey
Bill Riccette: 1. Jalen Ramsey, 2. Casey Heyward, 3. Darius Slay, 4. Patrick Peterson, 5. Marcus Peters, 6. Tre’Davious White, 7. Stephon Gilmore, 8. AJ Bouye, 9. Chris Harris, 10. Xavien Howard
Alex Washburn: 1. Stephon Gilmore, 2. Tre’Davius White, 3. Patrick Peterson, 4. Xavier Howard, 5. Jalen Ramsay, 6. Chris Harris, 7. Marlon Humphrey, 8. Kyle Fuller, 9. Marshon Lattimore, 10. AJ Bouye