Ranking season continues on with training camps still at least a few weeks away from getting underway and ESPN.com is well into their positional series for 2020. On Thursday, ESPN.com released their rankings of the top 10 cornerbacks for the 2020 season and Pittsburgh Steelers cornerbacks Joe Haden and Steven Nelson both failed to make the cut.
According to ESPN.com, more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts, and players were asked to help us stack the top 10 players at 11 different positions. Voters gave their best 10 to 15 players at a position, then the results were compiled and the candidates ranked based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, interviews and research. Ties were broken by isolating the two-man matchup with additional voting and follow-up calls.
The list of top 10 cornerbacks for 2020 includes Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots at the top and he’s followed by Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams and Tre’Davious White of the Buffalo Bills. Darius Slay of the Philadelphia Eagles and Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints round out the top five cornerbacks for 2020.
While Haden and Nelson both failed make this year’s top 10 list at their positions, both were listed as honorable mentions along with six other cornerbacks
Here is the synopsis on Haden not making the top 10:
“Had one of his better years last year. He’s held up really well and had a nice resurgence in Pittsburgh.” — NFL passing game coordinator
And here is the synopsis on Nelson not making the top 10:
“I thought both [outside] Pittsburgh corners were good last year. He probably doesn’t get enough credit.” — NFL coordinator
Is it fair that Haden and Nelson both weren’t included in the 2020 top 10? Personally, I didn’t expect either to land in it even though both have them had great 2019 seasons.
Haden had five interceptions last season to go along with 65 total tackles and it ultimately resulted in him going to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career, As for Nelson, who was in his first season with the Steelers in 2019, he registered 66 total tackles and an interception.
Both Haden and Nelson, now affectionately known in Pittsburgh as Batman and Superman, according to Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward, were very tough to throw on in 2019, their first season playing together in a secondary. While each might not have done enough last season to warrant being ranked in the top 10 cornerbacks ahead of the 2020 season, as a duo, they certainly should be considered top 3 league wide.
Assuming both Haden and Nelson stay healthy in 2020, each could wind up having better seasons than they had in 2019 and especially with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick now entering his first full season with the Steelers. The entire Steelers secondary could wind up being the best in the NFL in 2020.
Will either Haden or Nelson wind up being in ESPN’s top 10 for 2021? It’s possible and especially if one or both can register close to double-digit interceptions.
In case you’re curious, below are this year’s top 10:
1. Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
2. Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams
3. Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills
4. Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles
5. Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints
6. Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens
7. Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
8. Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens
9. Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
10. Byron Jones, Miami Dolphins