NFL Power Rankings 2023: Top 5 Defensive Backs Featuring Seahawks’ Ball Hawk

Published 12/30/2023, 2:56 PM EST

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With the NFL tweaking its rules to favor the offense, it is becoming harder for defensive players to lock out individual corners of the field. The number of dime and nickel formations in the league has increased and more importance is given to zone coverage, instead of man-to-man coverage making it more difficult for talented defensive backs to have more control over the outcome of the game, at least defense-wise.

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As the regular season draws to a close, who were the stand-out defensive backs of the season and how did they swing the tide in their team’s favor?

Which cornerbacks shined this season?

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The last true cornerback who set the gold standard for all his successors was Deion Sanders, who also won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1994. Which of these players comes close to the NFL legend?

1. Tariq Woolen

Tariq Woolen, who is currently in his second season, is the most recent member of Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s long, rangy cornerback family, which is led by Richard Sherman. The converted wide receiver at UT-San Antonio, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2022 draft, tied for the league lead with six interceptions in 2022 and was invited to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Woolen, who stands tall at 6’7″, led the Seahawks in pass breakups last season with 16.

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USA Today via Reuters

2. Denzel Ward

Former No. 4 overall pick, Denzel Ward does not receive enough recognition for his contribution to the Cleveland Browns’ superior defense. Throughout his career, he has played only in 12 to 15 games due to various injuries, but when he is healthy, he is easily one of the league’s top cornerbacks.

In his first six seasons, he was selected for two Pro Bowls. Last year, he recovered two fumbles for touchdowns, which is an NFL record. Among cornerbacks who have played at least 70 snaps this season, he has allowed just a 55.9 passer rating when targeted and a 59% completion rate, which ranks fifth and eighth in the league, respectively, according to Next Gen Stats.

3. Trevon Diggs

It’s possible that his 11 interceptions two years ago were an anomaly, primarily because teams won’t throw the ball at him frequently enough for him to continue to perform at that level. It doesn’t lessen his talent, though, which is why it is such a huge blow for the Dallas Cowboys to lose him for the season due to an ACL tear.

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Diggs is nimble, and intelligent, and has demonstrated a talent for reading the movements of opposing receivers. He undoubtedly benefits from having a fantastic pass rush in front of him. However, those pass rushers also give him credit because it’s easy for them to pressure the quarterback when they know that Diggs has their back.

4. Darius Slay

The Philadelphia Eagles believe that despite being 32 and in his 11th NFL season, he is not slowing down. Indeed, they prioritized keeping him during the offseason to prevent their defense from collapsing due to the salary cap. In the backfield, Slay is a ray of confidence, ready to take on any receiver and frequently emerge victorious. Slay is still fast enough to keep up with them all, even though his speed has decreased.

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5. Patrick Surtain Jr.

The Denver Broncos’ defense had a dismal start to the year. And Surtain had a role to play in it as he allowed a 152.2 passer rating when targeted, which is second-worst in the league among all defensive backs who have played at least 30 defensive snaps. However, the sample size is too small to warrant concern. Since joining the NFL two years ago, Surtain has performed incredibly well; last season, he was selected to the first team of the All-Pro and Pro Bowl.

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Can any of the players on the list win the award after the postseason wraps up in February? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Written by:

Jakso James

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One take at a time

I am a hardcore believer in the ?Mamba Mentality?, which certainly applies to the NFL. The sport is not just about physical prowess but also demands a powerful mindset. Growing up, I spent time with athletes on the neighborhood soccer field.
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Edited by:

Garima Yadav

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