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PFF Rankings: The highest-graded defensive backs through Week 3 of the 2019 NFL preseason

As the preseason winds to a close, we’re looking at the top players we’ve seen so far. That means that now we’re turning our attention to the defensive backfield. Which starters have seen enough playing time and look ready for the regular season, and which players are making a strong case for spots at the bottom of the roster as cuts loom? Here are our top-15 highest-graded defensive backs (who have played a minimum of 50 snaps) so far this preseason. 

[Editor's Note: All of PFF's player grades and advanced statistics are finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers before 5 pm ET on the Monday following each weekend's slate of games during the season. Sign up today to gain access!]

1. S Donovan Wilson, Dallas Cowboys — 93.7

The sixth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M has seen plenty of work this preseason, totaling 102 snaps so far in August. In three games, we’ve seen two big performances from him, with an interception against both the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans. From the three passes thrown into his primary coverage, Wilson has allowed a passer rating of just 2.8.

2. S Deon Bush, Chicago Bears — 92.6

Bush had one of the plays of the preseason this week, ripping the ball away from the receiver and somehow avoiding being touched down by contact before taking it back for a touchdown. He has started all three games for the Bears and been on the field for 78 snaps, with three of his six solo tackles resulting in a defensive stop.

3. S Jaquan Johnson, Buffalo Bills — 92.1

A sixth-round draft pick out of Miami, Johnson is coming off his best game of the preseason, where he forced a fumble against the Lions. He’s been on the field for 130 snaps this preseason and has forced a pass breakup in all three games. 

4. CB Eric Rowe, Miami Dolphins — 90.2

Rowe has been targeted 11 times so far this preseason, with little success for opposing quarterbacks and receivers. He has allowed just six receptions for 64 yards and recorded an interception and two pass breakups from 34 snaps in coverage.

5. S Jayron Kearse, Minnesota Vikings — 88.9

Heading into his fourth year out of Clemson, Kearse is enjoying the best preseason of his career so far. He’s seen 98 snaps on the field, including starting the most recent game against the Arizona Cardinals, and he has forced two pass breakups.

6. S Raven Greene, Green Bay Packers — 87.5

An undrafted free agent a year ago, Greene had a nice preseason as a rookie and is following it up with a better one in 2019. Three of his eight solo tackles have resulted in a defensive stop, and he has a pass breakup and a forced fumble to his name on just 63 snaps.

7. CB Kevin Peterson, Los Angeles Rams — 87.0

The former undrafted free agent has been on the field for 50 coverage snaps in August and has allowed just one reception for 19 yards. He also leads all cornerbacks with two interceptions so far in the preseason and also has a pass breakup to his name.

8. S Terrell Edmunds, Pittsburgh Steelers — 86.7

Edmunds had an up and down rookie year after being drafted with the 28th overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s looked much more impressive this preseason though, with a forced fumble and two pass breakups from his 66 snaps on the field.

9. S Bennett Jackson, Baltimore Ravens — 86.3

Jackson made a big impact in the preseason opener, coming away with an interception, but it has been his tackling which has been most impressive in August. He has yet to miss a tackle from 80 snaps on the field, with three of his five solo tackles resulting in a defensive stop.

10. CB De’Vante Bausby, Denver Broncos — 83.9

An undrafted free agent back in 2015, Bausby is enjoying an impressive preseason and is tied for second among cornerbacks with three pass breakups. From 52 snaps in coverage, he has allowed just two receptions on seven targets.

11. S Antone Exum Jr., San Francisco 49ers — 83.2

The former sixth-round draft pick is enjoying the best preseason of his career so far, forcing a pass breakup in the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. He saw a career-high 594 snaps in the regular season last year, producing an overall grade of 65.3.

12. CB Mike Hilton, Pittsburgh Steelers — 82.2

An undrafted free agent from the class of 2016, Hilton has seen just shy of 600 snaps on defense for the Steelers in each of the past two seasons. So far this preseason he has allowed just two receptions and has recorded two pass breakups on 30 coverage snaps.

13. CB Tae Hayes, Jacksonville Jaguars — 80.7

Targeted 12 times so far this preseason, Hayes has allowed just seven receptions for 64 yards and has recorded an interception and three pass breakups. The undrafted free agent has allowed a passer rating of just 38.2 on throws into his coverage.

14. CB Darius Phillips, Cincinnati Bengals — 80.4

Opposing quarterbacks have gone after Phillips five times so far in August, netting just one measly reception for eight yards. That has resulted in an NFL passer rating allowed of 39.6 on throws into his coverage, with the fifth-round draft pick out of Western Michigan coming away with two pass breakups, too.

15. CB Shaquill Griffin, Seattle Seahawks — 80.1

As a third-round draft pick back from the class of 2017, Griffin has played 1,891 regular season snaps so far in his career, though he struggled in 2018. So far this preseason he has allowed just one reception from three targets and has come away with two pass breakups.

Read more about the outstanding performers through three weeks of the preseason: Grading all 32 first-round picksTop-15 pass-rushersTop-15 rookie quarterbacksTop-15 pass-catchersTop-15 offensive linemenTop-15 defensive backsTop-25 rookies

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