Ranking AFC West cornerback trios

·3 min read

We are about two weeks from the start of the 2022 season. So, as we wind down the preseason, we also wind down our Ranking the AFC West series.

We move into the secondary now, starting with the cornerback trios. There was a time when the focus would be on the outside cornerbacks, but in today’s NFL a nickel cornerback to cover the slot is just as important.

This is how I see the AFC West stacking up at cornerback.

1. Chargers — Asante Samuel Jr, J.C. Jackson, Bryce Callahan

Finding a solid group of cornerbacks has been the top priority for the Chargers the past couple offseasons. Last year they made Asante Samuel Jr their pick at 47 overall in the second round and this offseason they made the splash of free agency, signing former Patriots star JC Jackson to a monster deal.

Jackson has led the NFL in interceptions over the past two seasons (17) and has an impressive 25 picks and 53 pass breakups in just four NFL seasons, despite not starting every game until last season. It’s become very clear, the more snaps he plays, the more plays he makes.

Samuel had two interceptions and 11 pass breakups in 12 games as a rookie and, as is often the case, he is expected to take a step up in his second NFL season. While Callahan comes over from Denver.

2. Broncos — Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby, K’waun Williams

The 9th overall pick in last year’s draft had four interceptions in his first NFL season along with 14 pass breakups. Surtain came in as a rookie and took control of an already solid defensive unit as arguably the division’s best cornerback.

Though Darby had no interceptions, he led the division with 16 pass breakups. The Broncos will replace the departed Bryce Callahan with former longtime 49ers cornerback K’waun Williams who put up 52 tackles last season.

3. Chiefs — L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, Trent McDuffie

Sneed had the second most tackles in the league (76) among cornerbacks while playing both inside and outside for the Chiefs last season. He also has five interceptions and 15 pass breakups in just 24 games over his first two NFL seasons.

No AFC West cornerback had a higher PFF grade than Rashad Fenton’s 82. He had no interceptions, but allowed just 33 catches and batted down seven passes. Trent McDuffie was the Chiefs’ top pick in this year’s draft at 21 overall out of Washington.

4. Rock Ya-Sin, Anthony Averett, Nate Hobbs

After a standout rookie season, Hobbs is easily the top cornerback on this Raiders roster. With the uncertainty surrounding one of the outside cornerback spots, they moved Hobbs from his usual slot duties to see how he held up on the outside. So, it’s possible we see more of him moving around and perhaps being the number two cornerback regardless of where he lines up.

In an attempt to replace the departed Casey Hayward, the Raiders acquired Rock Ya-Sin in trade with the Colts. The former second round pick has started eight games in each of the past two seasons in Indianapolis, but the Raiders clearly think he’s ready to be a full time starter.

Averett won the job over incumbent Trayvon Mullen who was traded to Arizona. The former fourth round pick spent his first four seasons in Baltimore. He put up three interceptions and 11 pass breakups last season which was his first as a full time starter.

Story originally appeared on Raiders Wire