For lovers of cornerback play, get used to this debate this season: Who is No. 1 between Jalen Ramsey or Jaire Alexander.
Three national outlets – CBS Sports, Pro Football Focus and USA Today Touchdown Wire – have revealed their cornerback rankings during the month of June. The trio have come down to deciding between Alexander of the Green Bay Packers and Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams on who is the best CB for 2021.
Turns out, two out of the three favors the L.A. Ram.
Who Has Ramsey at No. 1
On June 22, CBS Sports’s Patrik Walker revealed who he and the outlet believes are the league’s best cornerbacks. Walker and CBS’s criteria was based off of “players who are the gold standard at their position and who routinely impact the outcome of games.”
And topping the list? Ramsey, with Walker writing “Ramsey is a perennial problem for wide receivers and quarterbacks, and will be again in 2021.”
Walker took Ramsey’s No. 1 ranking further by writing: “He’ll regain his true form this coming season, after already bouncing back to another All-Pro nod and fourth Pro Bowl honor last year. Ramsey is a game-changer of the highest order, as evidenced by his mammoth contract in Los Angeles and the film to back it up.”
CBS Sports isn’t alone in placing Ramsey at the top. Mark Schofield of Touchdown Wire plugged the Ram at the top in his June 16 article. Shofield cited Ramsey’s versatility and skill set as the reasoning for going at the top. Shofield added “Ramsey’s varied skill-set allowed (former defensive coordinator) Brandon Staley to play him on the inside, or on the outside, and/or against any kind of receiving threat. You might see him matched against tight ends, big-bodied wide receivers, or even shifty slot receivers. With his movement skills and technique, Ramsey can cover them all.”
Who Has Alexander Ahead of Ramsey
While CBS and Touchdown Wire are ardent believers in Ramsey dominating WR’s this upcoming season, PFF placed him behind the fast-rising star from Green Bay Alexander.
The analytics website revealed its own listings of best outside CB’s on June 1 by making Alexander PFF’s top CB with Ramsey trailing behind him. Ben Linsey of PFF cited Alexander’s 16 forced incompletions since 2019 and allowing just 353 receiving yards in coverage in 2020 as the chief reasonings behind his No. 1 ranking. To further back PFF’s top spot for Alexander, he was given a 90.5 player grade, making him and Jessie Bates III of the Cincinnati Bengals as the lone CB’s with a 90 grade.
Ramsey’s PFF player rating was 79.8. Surprisingly, PFF lists Ramsey’s CB teammate Darious Williams with a higher grade.
Rankings are a pivotal part of any pre-NFL season buildup. But here’s where it’ll really be determined who is best by season’s end: Shutting down wideouts in the new 17-game gauntlet.
Alexander will be tangling with a healthier Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints in week one. From there, he’ll likely get to cover four WR’s who finished with 100-catch seasons in 2020: Allen Robinson (twice) of Chicago, De’Andre Hopkins of Arizona and Tyler Lockett of Seattle. Also mixed in on Alexander’s schedule: Juju Smith-Schuster of Pittsburgh and Tyreek Hill of Kansas City who had 97 and 87 receptions, respectively.
Ramsey looks like he has the fiercer obstacles: Robinson to start the year, then a combined four games against Hopkins and Lockett. Plus there’s Lockett’s chiseled teammate D.K. Metcalf, who was limited by Ramsey production wise in their wildcard matchup. Then there’s Super Bowl champ Mike Evans, Alexander’s teammate Davante Adams (115 catches last year) and the new Tennessee Titan Julio Jones sprinkled in for Ramsey.
Limiting the production against those All-Pro, highly-decorated wideouts is going to be the final determination on who really is the better CB in 2021.