• Passer rating allowed, explained: The stat is the NFL passer rating generated from a player's coverage numbers when targeted.
• James Bradberry paces the league: His 51.8 passer rating allowed in 2022 was the best mark of his seven-year career.
• A new wave of talent at cornerback: Jaycee Horn and Sauce Gardner, both 22 years old, round out the top three.
Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins
Playing cornerback is no easy feat, especially in today’s pass-happy NFL.
In this article, we used PFF Premium Stats to identify cornerbacks with the lowest NFL passer rating allowed in coverage in 2022. Out of 90 qualified corners who faced 300 or more coverage snaps, here are the top 10 in lowest NFL passer rating surrendered.
NFL passer rating allowed: 51.8
Bradberry backed up his late signing with the Eagles, posting the second-highest coverage grade (77.1) of his career. Not only that, his 51.8 passer rating allowed was the best mark of his seven-year career. Bradberry and Sauce Gardner were tied first with 21 total forced incompletions.
Bradberry started his career in Carolina, where he had to face the peak performance of Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Michael Thomas in his division. That being said, it makes sense that his grades have improved since moving to the NFC East, and the tape comes to the same conclusion. The Eagles ended up bringing back their veteran duo of Bradberry and Darius Slay, which at one point looked unlikely, but they return as one of the league’s best cornerback tandems.
NFL passer rating allowed: 52.6
After his rookie season was cut short due to injury, Horn bounced back in a big way and proved he was worthy of the Panthers' first-round selection in 2021. Horn had nine coverage snaps per target, which tied for second with Marlon Humphrey, trailing only Patrick Surtain II.
Horn was also one of just five qualifying corners to not allow a single touchdown last season. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Horn posted a 4.39-second 40-yard dash. Match that with his 95th-percentile arm length (33 inches), 98th-percentile vertical jump (42 inches) and 96th-percentile broad jump (11 feet, 1 inch), and Horn is one of the top athletes at cornerback in the NFL.
NFL passer rating allowed: 53.9
Gardner stepped into the league as one of the best, as he was PFF's highest-graded cornerback, posting a 90.0 coverage grade. Gardner averaged 18 coverage snaps per reception allowed, which also led the league.
The Jets drafted Gardner fourth overall, led by head coach Robert Saleh, who is one of the best defensive minds in the league — a true match made in heaven. Gardner, as we know, did not allow a single touchdown in his college career at Cincinnati. His 27% forced incompletion rate also led the league, and his stellar debut season put the league on notice.
NFL passer rating allowed: 58.3
The rookie out of Tennessee made this list because of his low passer rating allowed in coverage. This stat is not the end-all-be-all, because his coverage grade will certainly tell you a different story (56.3).
Although it was a small sample size of just 10 coverage snaps, you saw the flashes with a pass breakup and allowing zero catches in the first game of his NFL career versus Tampa Bay. However, his most complete game came in Week 15 against Atlanta, when he recorded three pass breakups and posted an 86.7 coverage grade on 40 coverage snaps. Taylor allowed zero touchdowns as a rookie and seems to have solidified the spot opposite of teammate Marshon Lattimore.
NFL passer rating allowed: 66.2
Alexander has the highest coverage grade in the league back in 2020. Coming off his injury-ridden season in 2021, Alexander bounced back to his regular form, posting a top-three coverage grade in the league (82.1).
Against Chicago in Week 13 was the only game that Alexander allowed over 100 yards in coverage. He has consistently shown to be one of the best corners in the league, and he is exceptional at getting his hands on the football–with five interceptions and eight pass breakups last season.
NFL passer rating allowed: 69.6
After spending the past six seasons in Pittsburgh, Sutton now forms a cornerback tandem with his former teammate in college at Tennessee Emmanuel Moseley. This has a chance to be extremely profitable for the Lions, as the duo is combined to make just $17 million per year on average.
Sutton notched career highs with three interceptions and eight pass breakups last year. The savvy veteran has played some in the slot, as well as safety, but has found a home on the outside. He will bring that veteran presence with him to an otherwise young secondary in Detroit.
NFL passer rating allowed: 72.1
Woolen comes in as the second rookie on this list, and he had an extremely impressive debut season in Seattle. He is an unbelievable athlete who was thought to need a lot of work to become a starting NFL cornerback, but he quickly debunked that theory.
Woolen's six interceptions led the league last season, and his 13 forced incompletions tied for 10th. On average, he played about 15.3 snaps per reception allowed, which is an elite figure that ranked in the top five among the qualified cornerbacks. Woolen gets to pair up with rookie Devon Witherspoon, the Seahawks' fifth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, forming one of the best young cornerback duos in the league.
NFL passer rating allowed: 74.5
Humphrey is one of the five qualified cornerbacks who did not allow a single touchdown in coverage last season. He had been playing from the slot at times, but last season he saw 823 snaps out wide. He earned the lowest coverage grade of his career in 2021 (65.0) but responded accordingly last season with a 75.6 mark.
Humphrey excels in man coverage, as his 90.2 coverage grade in man led the league among all qualified cornerbacks. He also let up only 10 catches on 19 targets from man. His ability to jam receivers in a press look is second to none.
NFL passer rating allowed: 74.6
Wallace led the entire league in passer rating against when in man coverage (41.8). When in man coverage, Wallace allowed zero touchdowns while forcing four incompletions and snagging three interceptions.
As previously stated, this stat does not paint the entire picture; Wallace earned a 59.3 coverage grade in 2022. The five-year cornerback will likely take a backseat to rookie Joey Porter Jr. in 2023 but will be able to help him along the way and rotate in, as well. Between Wallace and veteran Patrick Peterson, Porter will have some good experience alongside him to help ease his transition into the league.
NFL passer rating allowed: 74.9
Jacobs recorded the lowest coverage grade of the players on this list, with a 54.5 mark last season. His top performance came in Week 9 against Green Bay, as he posted a career-high 83.3 PFF grade. Across 45 snaps, he was targeted four times but allowed zero catches and broke up a pass.
The former undrafted free agent has started 17 games for the Lions over the past two seasons. With the new additions of Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley, he will become even more of a rotational corner this season.