NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 6 Secondary Rankings

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (2) reacts against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles take top spot: Philadelphia moves up seven places from our Week 2 rankings.

• 49ers climb to No. 3: Charvarius Ward (87.0 PFF grade) and Tashaun Gipson Sr. (84.4) have propelled the secondary so far this season.

Dolphins biggest fallers: Miami drops 22 places from our Week 2 rankings due to poor play and injuries.

Estimated Reading Time: 15 mins

1. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Up 7 from Week 2 Rankings)

Darius Slay and James Bradberry have been the best cornerback duo in the NFL this season. Their safety play leaves a little bit to be desired, but teams just have not been able to create many big plays against this secondary. If the safeties can play better over the next 11 games, this defense could be the best in the NFL by the end.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Eagles are No. 1 in EPA allowed per passing play (-0.183)
  • Opponents have a 31.8 passer rating when targeting Darius Slay 
  • Philadelphia is No. 5 in team coverage grade (74.7)

2. DENVER BRONCOS (Up 4)

The Broncos' secondary has been outstanding this season, and Patrick Surtain II might just be the best cornerback in the NFL. The only thing holding this unit back is injuries, which have forced Damarri Mathis into a bigger role. Otherwise, this is an elite group with a ton of size and athleticism.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Broncos are No. 1 in team coverage grade (90.6)
  • Patrick Surtain II has allowed just 147 yards on 38 targets this season
  • Denver is No. 8 in EPA allowed per passing play (-0.113)

3. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (Up 16)

When the 49ers are fully healthy, they have a top-three secondary. Charvarius Ward (87.0) is the second-highest-graded cornerback in the NFL, and Tashaun Gipson Sr. (84.4) is the second-highest-graded safety. The 49ers have also gotten great play from Talanoa Hufanga. When at full strength, there might not be a better secondary in the NFL.

PFF stats to know:

  • The 49ers are No. 2 in EPA allowed per passing play (-0.171)
  • Denver is No. 2 in team coverage grade (89.3)
  • Quarterbacks have just a 69.7 passer rating when targeting Charvarius Ward


4. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (Up 14)

The Patriots' secondary continues to be a massive strength for the team despite losing J.C. Jackson this offseason. They have one of the league's deepest units and an emerging star at cornerback in rookie Jack Jones. While the New England secondary might not have the “star” power of other units, it's still one of the NFL's best.

PFF stats to know:

  • Jack Jones has the highest coverage grade in the NFL (91.7)
  • The Patriots have the No. 11 coverage grade in the NFL (65.8)
  • New England is No. 3 in EPA allowed per passing play (-0.166) 

5. DALLAS COWBOYS (Up 5)

The Cowboys have one of the deepest secondaries in the NFL, with eight players already logging 50 or more snaps. The safety room has been especially good, and Malik Hooker is currently grading out as the No. 3 safety in the NFL. 

PFF stats to know:

  • Quarterbacks have an 88.7 passer rating when targeting Trevon Diggs
  • The Cowboys have the No. 4 team coverage grade (79.0)
  • Malik Hooker has allowed just 16 yards in coverage all season

6. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (Down 1)

The Buccaneers have been hit with some injuries in the secondary, as Logan Ryan, Mike Edwards and Sean Murphy-Bunting have all missed time. Still, this is one of the league's best secondaries, and most of their defensive issues have been due to a lack of pass rush.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Buccaneers are No. 3 in team coverage grade (83.3)
  • Tampa Bay is No. 6 in EPA allowed per passing play (-0.123)
  • Jamel Dean is the fifth-highest-graded cornerback in the NFL (82.6)

7. BUFFALO BILLS (Down 5)

Despite a ton of injuries in the secondary, the Bills continue to be one of the league’s best defenses. They’ve already had four cornerbacks play 125 or more snaps this season, and that does not include Tre’Davious White, who has missed all six games so far. When this unit is fully healthy, it might just be the best secondary in the NFL.

PFF stats to know:

  • Jordan Poyer is tied for the most interceptions plus pass breakups among safeties (5)
  • The Bills are No. 4 in EPA allowed per passing play (-0.157)
  • Quarterbacks are completing 72.4% of their passes when targeting Kaiir Elam

8. NEW YORK JETS (Up 16)

There might not be a more fun defensive player in the league right now than Sauce Gardner. He has been dominant over the past few games, helping turn this secondary around. The Jets have gotten outstanding play from all their cornerbacks, and the safeties have not been a major issue. They are still one more playmaker at safety away from being an elite group, but this is one of the better secondaries in the NFL through Week 6.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Jets are No. 10 in EPA allowed per passing play (-0.067)
  • Sauce Gardner has allowed just 149 receiving yards on 33 targets
  • New York is No. 6 in team coverage grade (71.8)

9. CINCINNATI BENGALS (No Change)

No one Bengals secondary player has been outstanding this season, but they have gotten solid play from every starter outside of Eli Apple. And with rookie Daxton Hill playing more snaps each week, this is one of the deeper secondaries in the NFL. 

PFF stats to know:

  • The Bengals are No. 5 in EPA allowed per passing play (-0.137)
  • Eli Apple has allowed 203 yards on 28 targets this season
  • Cincinnati is No. 8 in team coverage grade (69.9)

10. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (Up 4)

Stephon Gilmore has been outstanding for the Colts this season, helping them get wins over the Chiefs, Broncos and Jaguars. Even Isaiah Rodgers is playing the best football of his career. However, what has to be disappointing for the Colts is the play of Kenny Moore II, who has struggled in coverage this season. Otherwise, this is an outstanding secondary that does not get enough attention.

PFF stats to know:

  • Quarterbacks have a 69.9 passer rating when targeting Stephon Gilmore
  • Gilmore has not allowed a touchdown despite being targeted 37 times this season
  • Kenny Moore II has allowed 224 yards and three touchdowns on 33 targets

11. GREEN BAY PACKERS (Down 8)

This should be one of the NFL’s best secondaries. On paper, Green Bay has high-quality players and top draft picks at every position and a Pro Bowl cornerback in Jaire Alexander. However, the Packers have been a bit of a disappointment this season, grading out as just an above-average secondary. There is certainly time for them to turn things around, but it’s fair to be discouraged by the way they’ve played so far.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Packers are No. 10 in team coverage grade (68.8)
  • Eric Stokes has allowed 241 passing yards on 19 targets this season

12. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (Down 11)

This was the No. 1-ranked secondary in the NFL going into the season. Derwin James continues to play like an All-Pro, and the Chargers have gotten solid play from cornerback Bryce Callahan. But J.C. Jackson has not lived up to his sizable free-agent contract, as he is one of the NFL’s lowest-graded cornerbacks (29.6). He has not been healthy, though, which has certainly impacted his play. 

PFF stats to know:

  • J.C. Jackson has allowed three touchdowns on 25 targets 
  • The Chargers are No. 14 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.019)
  • Los Angeles is No. 22 in team coverage grade (59.3)

13. ATLANTA FALCONS (Up 15)

After a fantastic 2021 season, A.J. Terrell has regressed in Year 3. He was one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks a year ago, and now he is among the most inefficient. The good news is that Richie Grant (71.6) has really improved in Year 2, and the Falcons have gotten solid play from Jaylinn Hawkins.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Falcons are No. 12 in team coverage grade (65.1)
  • A.J. Terrell has allowed seven touchdowns on 40 targets this season
  • Atlanta is No. 19 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.062)

14. BALTIMORE RAVENS (Down 1)

Marcus Williams, before dislocating his wrist, was the Ravens' highest-graded defensive back through five games. His injury combined with Baltimore's continued issues at cornerback — six players have logged 50 defensive snaps so far — have the secondary here at No. 14.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Ravens are No. 17 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.040)
  • Baltimore is No. 21 in team coverage grade (61.4)
  • Quarterbacks have a 52.7 passer rating when targeting Marlon Humphrey

15. LOS ANGELES RAMS (Down 4)

After a rocky start in Week 1, Jalen Ramsey has bounced back in a huge way. He is the No. 4 graded cornerback after six games. The problem for the Rams has been finding a suitable cornerback opposite him. Derion Kendrick and David Long Jr. have both struggled this season, and the Rams have dealt with some injuries at safeties. If not for Ramsey, this might be the worst unit in the NFL.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Rams are No. 13 in team coverage grade (64.6) and in EPA allowed per passing play (0.017)
  • Jalen Ramsey has allowed a combined 18 receiving yards since Week 4.
  • Derion Kendrick has allowed 19 receptions this season for 254 yards (31 targets)

16. HOUSTON TEXANS (Up 16) 

The Texans are starting two rookies in their secondary (Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre), and they have both struggled. Both are among the lowest-graded players at their positions through six weeks. However, the Texans have gotten good play from their veterans, including Desmond King II and Steven Nelson. That is why Houston is still a middle-of-the-pack unit despite some early-career struggles from Stingley and Pitre.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Texans are No. 9 in team coverage grade (69.6)
  • Quarterbacks have just a 64.6 passer rating when targeting Desmond King II
  • Derek Stingley Jr. has allowed 345 passing yards on 43 targets this season

17. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Down 10)

In terms of overall talent, the Saints are near the top of the league. But they certainly have not played like it this season. Marshon Lattimore (52.2) and Paulson Adebo (34.1) are among the lowest-graded cornerbacks in the NFL. Tyrann Mathieu has been a fine addition to the safety room, but this unit has played at a below-average level through the first six games of the season.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Saints are No. 24 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.089)
  • Paulson Adebo is the No. 111-ranked cornerback (fourth-lowest)
  • The Saints are No. 19 in team coverage grade (61.9)

18. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (Up 8)

The Jaguars' secondary has been much improved compared to last season. Tyson Campbell has taken a huge leap and is currently the No. 7-graded cornerback in the NFL (79.5). Jacksonville has also gotten strong play from Andre Cisco (70.1), another 2021 draft choice. The team's biggest issue in coverage has been the linebackers, but the secondary has been pretty strong through six games.

PFF stats to know:

  • Tyson Campbell has allowed 198 yards on 35 targets this season
  • The Jaguars are No. 11 in EPA allowed per passing play (-0.058)

19. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (Down 7)

The Steelers have really struggled to find quality cornerback play, and it has not helped that Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace and Cameron Sutton have all missed time with injuries. But the safety group has propped up this unit, with both Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick grading out as top-20 players. If the Steelers can find some more consistency at cornerback, they could rise up this ranking in no time.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Steelers are No. 18 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.044)
  • Akhello Witherspoon has allowed a 72.7% completion percentage this season

20. CAROLINA PANTHERS (Down 5)

The Panthers' secondary has been very middling this season, but Jaycee Horn‘s emergence is the story here. He is currently the No. 11-ranked cornerback in the NFL in coverage grade (77.2). He is a star on the rise within an otherwise not-very-good secondary.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Panthers are No. 20 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.072)
  • Quarterbacks have a 37.5 passer rating when targeting Jaycee Horn
  • Horn has allowed just 107 yards on 22 targets this season.

21. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (No Change)

After a rough start to the season, the Vikings' cornerbacks have turned things around. Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler have both played well over the past few games. The Vikings have even been without safety Harrison Smith for a stretch, but they have gotten solid play from Josh Metellus in his absence. While this still isn’t an elite unit, it has played adequately this season. 

PFF stats to know:

  • The Vikings are No. 29 in team coverage grade (49.5)
  • Minnesota is No. 15 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.022)

22. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (Down 6)

The Chiefs have been hit with a ton of injuries in their cornerback room, headlined by rookie Trent McDuffie, who has not played since Week 1. Eight defensive backs have already logged 70 or more snaps, and it’s been hard for this unit to have any sort of continuity. 

PFF stats to know:

  • L'Jarius Sneed has allowed a 106.6 passer rating when targeted
  • The Chiefs are No. 23 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.086)

23. NEW YORK GIANTS (Up 7)

The Giants have struggled to even find cornerbacks this season, and so it’s truly amazing they are 5-1. Five cornerbacks have played at least 60 snaps for the team, and only Fabian Moreau has played at an above-average level for any sustained period of time. At safety, Xavier McKinney has disappointed, but the unit has not yet been exposed. However, it could be an issue as the season goes on. 

PFF stats to know:

  • The Giants are No. 27 in team coverage grade (52.1)
  • Adoree' Jackson is allowing 13.6 yards per completion this season

24. CHICAGO BEARS (Up 3)

The Bears have one of the NFL’s youngest secondaries, as they are starting two rookies in Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker. Both players have made some splashy plays over the past few weeks but are still far too inconsistent snap to snap. With Jaylon Johnson returning to the lineup, there is hope that the unit can improve over the next few months.

PFF stats to know:

  • Kyler Gordon has allowed 410 yards in coverage on 42 targets
  • Quarterbacks have a 122.1 passer rating when targeting Gordon
  • The Bears are No. 16 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.037) and team coverage grade (63.2)

25. CLEVELAND BROWNS (Down 8)

The Browns have fielded one of the most disappointing secondaries in the NFL this season. Denzel Ward is among the league's lowest-graded cornerbacks (39.8), and the safety play has been tough to watch. Unless this unit improves, the Browns will continue to have one of the league’s worst defenses.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Browns are No. 21 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.081)
  • Denzel Ward has allowed 293 yards on 28 targets this season
  • Quarterbacks have a 130.2 passer rating when targeting Grant Delpit

26. MIAMI DOLPHINS (Down 22)

It has been tough to evaluate the Dolphins' secondary this season, as Byron Jones has yet to play a snap. Plus, Xavien Howard clearly isn’t healthy and they just lost Nik Needham to an Achilles injury that will cause him to miss the rest of the 2022 season. The Dolphins' secondary is clearly talented, but it is not playing well this year.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Dolphins are No. 28 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.134) and in team coverage grade (49.5)
  • Jevon Holland has allowed just 36 receiving yards all season
  • Quarterbacks have a 29.9 passer rating when targeting Holland in coverage

27. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (Down 4)

Washington's unit has not played well overall this season, but it does feature two extremely talented safeties in Kamren Curl and Darrick Forrest. Still, until the Commanders can figure out the cornerback position, this will always be a middling secondary.

PFF stats to know:

  • Kamren Curl is the No. 1-graded safety in the NFL (89.8)
  • The Commanders are No. 14 in team coverage grade (64.0)
  • Washington is No. 26 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.099)

28. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (Up 3)

The Seahawks' secondary is not good, but there are up-and-coming players to be excited about. Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant were both Day 3 picks by the Seahawks, and they are each coming off strong games in Week 6. This is a very young secondary with a chance to grow as the season progresses.

PFF stats to know:

  • Tariq Woolen is tied for the most interceptions in the NFL (4)
  • The Seahawks are No. 29 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.170)
  • Seattle is No. 30 in team coverage grade (47.3)

29. TENNESSEE TITANS (Down 7)

No one is playing well in the secondary for Tennessee. Even All-Pro Kevin Byard is off to the worst start of his career. But the Titans' bigger issue is at cornerback, as both Caleb Farley and Roger McCreary have struggled. Kristian Fulton has been the team’s best cornerback this season, but he has just a 60.7 coverage grade through five games.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Titans are No. 30 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.171)
  • Tennessee is No. 26 in team coverage grade (54.8)
  • Caleb Farley has allowed a 147.3 passer rating when targeted

30. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (Down 10)

The cornerback position has been a clear weak point for the Raiders this season, outside of Nate Hobbs. And with Hobbs now on the injured reserve list due to a broken hand, it is about to get a lot worse. It also does not help that Johnathan Abram and Trevon Moehrig are two of the lowest-graded safeties in the NFL. It is one of the league’s worst secondaries even when fully healthy.

PFF stats to know:

  • Nate Hobbs has allowed just one touchdown reception in his NFL career (784 coverage snaps)
  • The Raiders are No. 32 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.206)
  • Las Vegas is No. 25 in team coverage grade (55.3)

31. ARIZONA CARDINALS (Down 2)

It’s been a rough year for the Cardinals' secondary. They have dealt with several injuries at cornerback, but the established starters (Budda Baker, Byron Murphy Jr.) have both taken a step back. If those players can pick up their play, this unit could quickly return to the middle of the pack. But expect the outside cornerback spot to give them problems all year long.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Cardinals are No. 27 in EPA allowed per passing play (0.106)
  • Arizona is No. 32 in team coverage grade (44.3)

32. DETROIT LIONS (Down 7)

The Lions have endured some unfortunate luck at cornerback, including multiple injuries. They’ve been forced to use Will Harris at cornerback, a safety by trade. They have also lost Tracy Walker for the season due to an injury, and this is now the NFL’s worst secondary. The hope is that the Lions can get a few players back from injuries, but even then, it is still a bad unit.

PFF stats to know:

  • The Lions are No. 31 in EPA allowed per passing play (.200)
  • Amani Oruwariye is the NFL’s lowest-graded cornerback (27.7)
  • The Lions are No. 31 in team coverage grade (44.5)
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