NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2022" -- voted on by the players themselves -- kicked off on Sunday, Aug. 14. Players ranked 100-51 were revealed Sunday over the course of five hours, with each one-hour episode unveiling a new set of 10 honorees. Three cornerbacks, Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward and Kenny Moore, were revealed in Episode 2 (Nos. 90-81) at Nos. 89, 87 and 82, respectively. With that in mind, former NFL quarterback David Carr provides his ranking of the top 10 cornerbacks heading into the 2022 NFL season.
Humphrey sneaks into the final spot here over New Orleans' Marshon Lattimore, who had a down year in 2021 and allowed seven touchdowns in coverage. Humphrey missed the final five games of 2021 with a torn pectoral muscle and the Ravens' defensive production took a big hit. Baltimore allowed nearly five more points per game in Weeks 14-18 without Humphrey than it did in Weeks 1-13 with him. He's one of the best slot cornerbacks in the league but also thrives on the outside, ranking second only to Atlanta's A.J. Terrell in completion percentage allowed on the outside last season, per PFF.
White tore his ACL in Week 12 last season and missed the Bills' postseason run. Prior to his injury, he had only one pick and six passes defensed in 11 games played. Though he doesn't always make the splashy plays, White has been a consistent defender in coverage throughout his career, as he has allowed the second-lowest passer rating in coverage (64.2) since 2019, per PFF (min. 100 targets). He is a sticky defender and QBs tend to stay away from him due to his physical play. Look for a bounce-back season from White, who's aiming for a Week 1 return from injury.
Ward isn't the flashiest player on this list but he knows how to get the job done. With great footwork and technique, his ability to blanket No. 1 receivers makes him a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Ward has allowed a 53.9 completion percentage in his career, the sixth-lowest among cornerbacks with 100-plus targets since 2018. His consistent production on the island led to a massive contract extension this offseason, but his health remains a concern as he has yet to play a full regular-season slate. He's a ballhawk, with 10 interceptions and 50 passes defensed in his first four seasons, and he might just be hitting his stride if he can stay healthy.
Alexander, who became the league's highest-paid CB in average annual value this spring, comes into this season looking to pick up where he left off before his season-ending injury in 2021. In his last fully healthy season in 2020, he allowed the lowest passer rating (52.9) and fewest receiving yards in coverage (335) among all cornerbacks, including the playoffs. He shuts down No. 1 receivers each week with sticky coverage and is a big play waiting to happen thanks to his speed, ball skills and understanding of pass concepts. With one of their leaders back healthy, the Packers' defense should feed off his energy and build on last year's improvement.
An undrafted free agent in 2017, Moore has played more slot coverage snaps than any other player in the league since 2018, and in turn, he's been one of the biggest playmakers with 12 interceptions from the slot in that span. His great instincts, production and versatility have made him an instrumental member of Indy's opportunistic defense, which validates his desire for a new deal.
Surtain is one of the best cornerbacks to come into the league over the last half-decade. The second-year pro doesn't panic when he has to turn and run with receivers. His athleticism and confidence are two reasons he broke out as a rookie, allowing the second-lowest passer rating in coverage (69.7) last season, per PFF (among 42 players with at least 75 targets in coverage). Well-coached and calculated in his risk-taking, Surtain feels poised to have an even better performance in Year 2 with the Broncos' roster improving from top to bottom.
Terrell looked to rebound in 2021 after a disappointing rookie season. Mission accomplished. The third-year pro earned PFF's second-highest coverage grade (85.6) among 133 cornerbacks with at least 150 coverage snaps in 2021, second to only Jalen Ramsey's 86.3 grade. He excelled in Dean Pees' scheme, which confuses quarterbacks with a variety of looks both pre- and post-snap. He allowed just 200 receiving yards and a 43.9 completion percentage in coverage. His rise in confidence and comfort level has helped him become one of the top players at his position. Now he'll be tasked with repeating his 2021 performance and elevating a defense that tied for 29th in scoring last season.
Howard might have the best ball skills in the NFL. He has an NFL-high 27 interceptions since entering the league in 2016, and he is one of two players with at least five picks in three of the last four seasons, joining J.C. Jackson. For whatever reason, it seems there isn't the same intimidation factor with Howard as there is with Jalen Ramsey or Jackson. Quarterbacks apparently feel more comfortable throwing his way than they do when it comes to a lot of other guys on this list, and that's why he's able to make so many big-time plays for the Dolphins. Often times, cornerbacks lose sight of the receiver when the ball is in the air but not Howard. He stays with the receiver and knows where the ball is at all times. He's a smart player who understands route concepts and knows what's coming.
Ramsey doesn't necessarily travel with the opponent's best receiver at all times, but he's always around the action. The five-time Pro Bowler is elite at seeing route concepts develop and understanding where he needs to be on the field. Ramsey often plays the cornerback position like a safety, covering more ground than most defensive backs, safeties included. He's coming off a career year, posting 77 tackles, four INTs, 16 passes defensed, nine tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He earned an 86.3 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus (first among cornerbacks with a minimum of 120 coverage snaps). Fresh off helping the Rams win the franchise's second Super Bowl, Ramsey has returned to practice after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and is poised to once again lead the backend of Los Angeles' star-studded defense.
As the Rams' defensive coordinator in 2020, Brandon Staley -- now entering Year 2 as the Chargers' head coach -- oversaw the league's top-ranked defense, and he had a true No. 1 cornerback (Jalen Ramsey) that year. I have to believe that played a role in the Chargers' decision to sign Jackson to a five-year, $82.5 million deal this offseason. The former Patriot is a physical corner who plays the ball tremendously well (league-high 24 takeaways since 2019). He's the type of player quarterbacks are terrified to throw toward because even if a receiver has a step on Jackson, he's still not open. Of the players with a minimum of 100 targets in coverage since 2019, Jackson has allowed a league-low 46.3 passer rating with no other such player allowing a sub-60 passer rating in that span, per PFF. He'll provide a big boost to a Chargers unit that ranked 29th in scoring defense in 2021.
NFL+ gives you the freedom to watch LIVE out-of-market preseason games, LIVE local and prime-time regular-season and postseason games on your phone or tablet, the best NFL programming on-demand and more! Wherever you are, this is how you football! Learn more about NFL+.