Top 25 College Football Cornerbacks of 2019

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Joe Broback

Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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If you have a shutdown corner, you don’t really realize how good he is until he’s one. When one player has the ability to eliminate one half of the field, defensive coordinators are given more freedom. Many corners are growing it seems (or switching from receiver to defense), and that length becomes something NFL teams covet. This year’s group of cornerbacks is interesting. A few teams are loaded in their secondary, a few players have famous relatives, and others are simply just fun to watch. We are wrapping up our preseason position previews, but we’re going out with a bang.


25. Jeff Gladney, TCU

2018 Stats: 41 tackles, 12 passes defended, 2 interceptions

While TCU figures out nearly every other position, the secondary brings stability. Gladney gives the Horned Frogs one of the best cornerbacks in the country, but there are concerns elsewhere.

24. Nevelle Clark, UCF

2018 Stats: 46 tackles, 13 PD, 2 INT

The Knights boast the best secondary in the conference, and Clarke’s not even the best in that group. UCF’s defense needs some work, and the secondary wants to get the bad taste of the Fiesta Bowl out of their mouths.

23. Stanford Samuels III, Florida State

2018 Stats: 58 tackles, 4 PD, 4 INT

His dad played in the NFL and CFL. Samuels moves from safety to cornerback, which will require some time to transition. The Seminoles are moving quite a few players around defensively, so it could be rough right off the bat.

22. Terell Smith, Minnesota

2018 Stats: 43 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 8 PD, 1 INT

Antoine Winfield Jr. headlines the Gophers secondary, but Smith’s a great prospect too. Oh, and he’s a freshman. Smith’s one of PJ Fleck’s recruits who’s already making an impact.

21. AJ Green, Oklahoma State

2018 Stats: 49 tackles, 11 PD, 1 INT

Not that AJ Green, and not the same caliber. Green plays the opposite side of the ball, but is still solid. He has good length to break up passes, and enters his third year as a starter.

20. Marco Wilson, Florida

2017 Stats: 34 tackles, 10 PD

Played in one game last year and was lost for the season. Wilson returns and gives the Gators one of the best cornerbacks in the country. He’ll be surrounded by a ton of talent as well, and the Gators could have fans reminiscing of the Joe Haden and Ahmad Black days.

19. Camryn Bynum, Cal

2018 Stats: 48 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 9 PD, 2 INT

Already has 25 games of experience under his belt, including 17 passes defended. Bynum’s also productive as a tackler (106 for his career). The Golden Bears defense took big steps last year under Justin Wilcox, and boasted one of the best passing defenses (9th overall) in the country.

18. TJ Carter, Memphis

2018 Stats: 68 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 12 PD, 2 INT

Exploded onto the scene as a freshman in 2017, but struggled last year. Teams tested him more frequently as a sophomore and found more success. Still, Carter’s the best in the conference, and testing him remains a risky choice.

17. Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh

2018 Stats: 47 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 14 PD

Jackson was an All-ACC Honorable Mention last year, and should improve on that this year. Pitt’s defense was largely average last year, but the Panthers expect to be a lot better with a number of starters returning.

16. Avery Williams, Boise State

2018 Stats: 49 tackles, 9 PD, 2 INT

In addition to being a great cornerback, Williams is an elite kick returner. He knows how to make plays on the ball, and is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Williams takes over as the top corner for the Broncos, and their defense will be one of the best in the country.

15. DJ Williams, Utah State

2018 Stats: 42 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 11 PD, 4 INT

Williams played on Last Chance U Season 3, and took that spotlight and made his own with the Aggies. He’s undersized, but he’s a playmaker who plays bigger than his measurements.

14. Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon

2018 Stats: 57 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 18 PD, 3 INT

Pac-12 offenses might want to find another side of the field to throw. Graham can contribute to both the passing game and defending the run. The Ducks defense must be better this year, but they’ve got a solid option at corner.

13. Mark Gilbert, Duke

2017 Stats: 35 tackles, 15 PD, 6 INT

Gilbert lost nearly all of his 2018 season to injury. Unfortunate as that was, the Blue Devils get back a valuable weapon in their secondary. Six interceptions isn’t something to take lightly, and opposing offenses certainly won’t when throwing to his side.

12. AJ Terrell, Clemson

2018 Stats: 53 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 3 PD, 3 INT

Clemson’s front seven returns just one player, but three of the four starters in the secondary return. The last time we saw Terrell, he was picking off Tua Tagovailoa and running it back to the end zone. Now, it’s his turn to be the guy after with Trayvon Mullen in the NFL.

11. Kristian Fulton, LSU

2018 Stats: 25 tackles, 9 PD, 1 INT

Fulton suffered a late season injury that required surgery, but he’s set to be one of the best cornerbacks in the country. Greedy Williams received a ton of the attention last year, but he’s now on the Cleveland Browns. Fulton’s the next man up, and the Tigers are in good hands.

10. Jaylon Johnson, Utah

2018 Stats: 41 tackles, 4 PD, 4 INT

With Julian Blackmon moving to safety, Johnson becomes the man at corner. Someone must fill Blackmon’s spot, and they can expect plenty of targets as long as Johnson is on the field.

9. Trevon Diggs, Alabama

2018 Stats: 20 tackles, six passes defended, one interception

His brother is Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. That should tell you what you can expect from little brother. Trevon played in only six games due to injury, but he was easily the Crimson Tide’s best cornerback. His next stop is the NFL, and it will be fun to watch him cover Stefon is he gets that chance.

8. Damon Arnette, Ohio State

2018 Stats: 40 tackles, 6 PD, 1 INT

Many pegged Arnette as the best of Ohio State’s cornerbacks for the last couple years, and that won’t change in 2019. The Buckeyes utilize him in stopping the run (over 100 career tackles), but he’s also great in pass coverage. Even with the loss of Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State will be just fine on the backside.

7. Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern

2018 Stats: 42 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 12 PD, 4 INT

Vildor may play for a Group of 5 team, but he plays with an unmatched tenacity. He doesn’t care who he’s playing. They’re not going to beat him. Georgia Southern will have one of the best secondaries in the Sun Belt this year because of him, and his production won’t take much of a hit even with teams avoiding him.

6. Lavert Hill, Michigan

2018 Stats: 14 tackles, 4 PD, 1 INT

Michigan’s cornerbacks (and secondary in general) found life tough against Ohio State last year, but otherwise were a great group. Hill returns for his third year as a starter, and the secondary will be much better because of it.

5. CJ Henderson, Florida

2018 Stats: 38 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 5 PD, 2 INT

Henderson took two interceptions back for touchdowns in 2017, and has six career picks. Henderson’s length helps him cover bigger receivers, and he shows his NFL potential weekly.

4. Essang Bassey, Wake Forest

2018 Stats: 73 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 15 PD, 1 INT

All Bassey does is produce. For his career, he has 167 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, four interceptions, and 34 passes defended. There’s no reason why he won’t continue this pace.

3. Josiah Scott, Michigan State

2018 Stats: 13 tackles, 7 PD, 2 INT

Scott only played in five games, but produced the above numbers in them. Injuries cost him the rest of his season, but he’s back. Michigan State’s star on the backside will help lead a defense that was fairly average defending the pass last year.

2. Paulson Adebo, Stanford

2018 Stats: 64 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 17 PD, 4 INT

NFL scouts already love Adebo, and he’s got another year of college football to play. At the end of the year, he could be one of the top cornerbacks (and prospects) in the country.

1. Bryce Hall, Virginia

2018 Stats: 62 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 21 PD, 2 INT

Hall’s a lockdown corner who only made Second Team All-American. That will change this year even though teams will avoid Hall’s side of the field. He turned down an opportunity to go to the NFL, and returns to give the Cavaliers a stout secondary.

Others to Watch

DeMarkus Acy, Missouri: Underrated corner who picked off three passes last year.

Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame: Julian Love is gone, leaving Pride to take over as the lockdown corner.

Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State: His coaches think he’s the best corner in the country, and the NFL appears to be in his future.

Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State: Joining Damon Arnette, Okudah gives the Buckeyes another great player at corner.

Mike Hampton, USF: First year as a starter produced 42 tackles, 16 passes defended, and two interceptions.

Darnay Holmes, UCLA: NFL scouts already like him, and he picked off three passes last year. One of the most underrated cornerbacks in the country.

Patrick Surtain Jr., Alabama: Took over when Trevon Diggs was injured, but must be more consistent in his sophomore season.

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