Football is a game of matchups and there’s nothing fans enjoy more than a quality matchup between two NFL top tens at wide receiver and cornerback. It usually brings a healthy dose of trash talk, a handful of Sportscenter top-ten worthy plays, and a plethora of excited fans.
Wide receivers and cornerbacks come in all different shapes, sizes, and skill levels. Some are small, some are tall, some are fast, and some are tough. When it comes to the NFL top tens at wide receiver and cornerback, they often possess a combination of high-quality traits.
Whether you spend your time on the offensive side of the field or the defensive side of the field, wide receivers and cornerbacks have similar goals — catch the football, or at least stop the other person from catching it. It’s a battle that many people are ready and willing to pay to witness.
NFL Top Tens: The 10 Best NFL Wide Receivers
The NFL is a ‘what-have-you-done-for-me-lately’ kind of league. Every year, there’s a group of players that exceed expectations, a group of players that fall short of expectations, and a group of players that fall in the middle. Those that exceed expectations are considered NFL top tens.
As we approach the midpoint of the 2021 season, we’re starting to see which players fit into which group. Much like any other year, we’re seeing several receivers perform at a higher level than others. Don’t worry, we’re going to break down who the best are so far in the NFL this year.
Starting with several honorable mentions, let’s take a look at the current NFL top tens at the wide receiver position!
Honorable Mentions: Michael Pittman Jr., Brandin Cooks, DJ Moore, Chris Godwin, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Mike Williams, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb
10. Stefon Diggs
Team: Buffalo Bills
2021 Stats: 8 games, 48 receptions, 73 targets, 588 yards, 3 touchdowns, 12.3 yards per reception
Career Stats: 94 games, 540 receptions, 773 targets, 6,746 yards, 41 touchdowns, 12.5 yards per reception
Stefon Diggs is now in his second season with the Buffalo Bills after being traded to the team prior to last season. He’s not only coming off a year where he set career-highs in receptions and yards, but he was clearly the best receiver last season and led the league in both categories.
He’s still one of the top receivers in the league, but his stats have dropped off this season — which is why he sits at No. 10 in the league right now. He hasn’t recorded more than 9 catches in one game and has only recorded more than 100 yards in one game so far this season.
9. Marquise Brown
Team: Baltimore Ravens
2021 Stats: 8 games, 46 receptions, 69 targets, 682 yards, 6 touchdowns, 14.8 yards per reception
Career Stats: 38 games, 150 receptions, 240 targets, 2,035 yards, 21 touchdowns, 13.6 yards per reception
After leading the Baltimore Ravens in receptions, targets, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns last season, Marquise Brown is at it again during the 2021 season. In fact, he’s only 13 receptions, 32 targets, 87 yards, and 3 touchdowns away from setting career-highs.
Brown currently ranks sixth in the league in receiving yards and is one of nine players with six or more receiving touchdowns. He has recorded more than 100 yards in three games this season, including a season-best 125 yards and two touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts (Week 5).
8. DK Metcalf
Team: Seattle Seahawks
2021 Stats: 8 games, 39 receptions, 56 targets, 580 yards, 8 touchdowns, 14.9 yards per reception
Career Stats: 40 games, 180 receptions, 285 targets, 2,783 yards, 25 touchdowns, 15.5 yards per reception
DK Metcalf is one of the most physical and athletic receivers in the game today. He led the Seattle Seahawks in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season and is doing it again this season. In fact, his 8 receiving touchdowns is five more than the next player on the team.
While his yards, targets, and receptions have taken a hit since last season, Russell Wilson’s injury is playing a big part in that. Still, he has had two multi-touchdown games this season, has scored a touchdown in six of eight games, and is on-pace to have over 1,000 yards receiving.
7. DeAndre Hopkins
Team: Arizona Cardinals
2021 Stats: 8 games, 35 receptions, 49 targets, 486 yards, 7 touchdowns, 13.9 yards per reception
Career Stats: 134 games, 782 receptions, 1,257 targets, 10,495 yards, 67 touchdowns, 13.4 yards per reception
DeAndre Hopkins has the best hands in the entire league and puts it on display every single game. His stats might be taking a small hit this season, but that’s because Kyler Murray has more options than ever before. Still, he finds himself among the NFL top tens at wide receiver.
Hopkins has yet to record more than seven receptions in a single game, hasn’t recorded more than 87 yards in a game this season, but does have two multi-touchdown games to his credit. In fact, he’s one of just six receivers to score at least seven reception touchdowns this season.
6. Mike Evans
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2021 Stats: 8 games, 39 receptions, 63 targets, 544 yards, 8 touchdowns, 13.9 yards per reception
Career Stats: 114 games, 571 receptions, 1,007 targets, 8,810 yards, 69 touchdowns, 15.4 yards per reception
Mike Evans is coming off a Super Bowl victory last season as he enters his second year with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. His stats haven’t been as dominant since Brady joined the Bucs, but Evans has to split targets with some of the league’s other best receivers.
So far this season, Evans is one of just three receivers to catch eight or more touchdowns and has three multi-touchdown games — including a three-touchdown performance in Week 7. With that said, he ranks 26th in the NFL in reception yards and 35th in total receptions this season.
5. Deebo Samuel
Team: San Francisco 49ers
2021 Stats: 8 games, 49 receptions, 81 targets, 882 yards, 4 touchdowns, 18.0 yards per reception
Career Stats: 30 games, 139 receptions, 206 targets, 2,075 yards, 8 touchdowns, 14.9 yards per reception
Deebo Samuel has been one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL this season and it all started Week 1 when he finished with 9 receptions, 189 yards, and one touchdown. He also had 8 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns in Week 4 and 7 catches for 171 yards in Week 7.
Overall, he has four games of over 100 yards this season, four games of 10+ targets, and one multi-touchdown game. He currently ranks 12th in the NFL in receptions, second in receiving yards, 17th in touchdowns. He even has a 13-yard rushing touchdown under his belt this year.
4. Davante Adams
Team: Green Bay Packers
2021 Stats: 8 games, 58 receptions, 87 targets, 786 yards, 3 touchdowns, 13.6 yards per reception
Career Stats: 108 games, 604 receptions, 930 targets, 7,354 yards, 65 touchdowns, 12.2 yards per reception
Davante Adams isn’t scoring nearly as many touchdowns as we’re used to seeing from him, but he’s been just as effective on the field. He’s on-pace to set career-highs in receptions and receiving yards, despite only scoring three touchdowns halfway through the 2021-22 season.
Adams currently ranks fourth in the NFL in targets, third in receptions, and fourth in receiving yards. His 206-yard performance in Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals is the most receiving yards in a single game by a receiver this season — ahead of Ja’Marr Chase’s 201-yard game.
3. Ja’Marr Chase
Team: Cincinnati Bengals
2021 Stats: 9 games, 44 receptions, 73 targets, 835 yards, 7 touchdowns, 19.0 yards per reception
Career Stats: 9 games, 44 receptions, 73 targets, 835 yards, 7 touchdowns, 19.0 yards per reception
Speaking of Ja’Marr Chase, he finds himself at No. 3 on our list of NFL top tens at receiver. Despite it being his first year in the league, he’s taking the NFL by storm with young quarterback Joe Burrow. He has scored a receiving touchdown in six of his nine games so far this season.
While he only ranks 23rd in receptions and 12th in targets, Chase currently ranks third in receiving yards and is one of just six players with seven or more receiving touchdowns. He’s having a fine start to his young career and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
2. Tyreek Hill
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
2021 Stats: 9 games, 68 receptions, 101 targets, 772 yards, 6 touchdowns, 11.4 yards per reception
Career Stats: 83 games, 436 receptions, 650 targets, 6,163 yards, 53 touchdowns, 14.1 yards per reception
Tyreek Hill continues to prove why he’s one of the most valuable and consistent receivers in the NFL this season — despite the Kansas City Chiefs having one of their worst regular seasons in a while. He has been a bright spot on an offense that has failed to meet expectations thus far.
Hill currently ranks second in targets and receptions, fifth in receiving yards, and seventh in receiving touchdowns. He has recorded 11+ receptions in three games this season — including 197 yards and one touchdown in Week 1 and 186 yards and three touchdowns in Week 4.
1. Cooper Kupp
Team: Los Angeles Rams
2021 Stats: 9 games, 74 receptions, 103 targets, 1,019 yards, 10 touchdowns, 13.8 yards per reception
Career Stats: 63 games, 362 receptions, 510 targets, 4,589 yards, 34 touchdowns, 12.7 yards per reception
Cooper Kupp has been on a tear so far this season, leading all receivers in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He’s on pace for nearly 2,000 yards receiving, 20 receiving touchdowns, and 150 receptions by the end of the season, which is possible with 17 games.
This is Kupp’s first season with new Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback Matt Stafford and it has been a match made in heaven. Their team is 7-2 after nine games and Kupp’s performances have been a big reason why. He’s established himself as the top receiver in the NFL right now.
NFL Top Tens: The 10 Best NFL Cornerbacks
Where there’s a talented wide receiver, there’s a talented cornerback ready to make that receiver’s day as stressful as possible. And since most teams have several talented wide receivers, they also have several talented cornerbacks to help win both sides of the ball.
Much like the receiver position, the NFL top tens at the cornerback position change every year and things are no different during the 2021-22 season. It’s hard to find your name on that list consistently and it’s something only a few cornerbacks will accomplish year-in and year-out.
Since we’ve already looked at the NFL top tens at wide receiver, let’s take a look at the NFL top tens at cornerback — starting with some honorable mentions.
Honorable Mentions: P.J. Williams, Amani Oruwariye, Lonnie Johnson Jr., Stephon Gilmore, Darius Slay, Anthony Brown, Asante Samuel Jr., Kenny Moore II, Jamel Dean
10. Josh Norman
Team: San Francisco 49ers
2021 Stats: 6 games, 28 tackles, 1 interception, 3 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 tackles for loss
Career Stats: 126 games, 468 tackles, 16 interceptions, 86 passes defensed, 17 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries, 1.0 sack, 13 tackles for loss, 3 defensive touchdowns
Josh Norman has provided a veteran presence the past two seasons, spending the 2020 season with the Buffalo Bills and now the 2021 season with the San Francisco 49ers. In addition to that veteran presence, he is having himself a fine season with only six games played thus far.
Despite having just one interception, which came in a Week 8 matchup against the Chicago Bears, he has already recorded a career-high four forced fumbles. He leads all cornerbacks in that statistical category and has emerged as a reliable starting cornerback for the 49ers.
9. Tre’Davious White
Team: Buffalo Bills
2021 Stats: 8 games, 29 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 tackle for loss, 0.5 sacks, 4 passes defensed
Career Stats: 69 games, 267 tackles, 15 interceptions, 3.0 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, 1 defensive touchdown, 5 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, 58 passes defensed
Tre’Davious White has emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the league over the past few seasons and while his stats don’t say much this season, he’s still locking down top receivers week-in and week-out. He’s a big reason why the Buffalo Bills have one of the best defenses.
With 15 interceptions in his first four seasons, White has yet to record one this year and only has four passes defensed after having 28 over the past two seasons. The small dip in production has him listed at No. 9 on our list of NFL top tens, but he’s better than that ranking.
8. Anthony Brown
Team: Dallas Cowboys
2021 Stats: 8 games, 40 tackles, 2 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 1 defensive touchdown
Career Stats: 74 games, 251 tackles, 8 interceptions, 43 passes defensed, 2 defensive touchdowns, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 9 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks
Anthony Brown has started all eight games for the Dallas Cowboys so far this season and the team has been rewarded as a result. He has already tied his career-high in interceptions, is on pace to shatter his career-high in tackles and passes defensed, and recorded his first pick-six.
He has been a steady contributor on a Cowboys’ defense that has helped their team to a 6-2 record. His play has been consistent, it’s been reliable, and it has been exactly what the Cowboys need — especially considering he’s making $2.5 million more than he did last season.
7. Marshon Lattimore
Team: New Orleans Saints
2021 Stats: 7 games, 27 tackles, 1 interception, 10 passes defensed
Career Stats: 64 games, 257 tackles, 11 interceptions, 65 passes defensed, 1 defensive touchdown, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 5 tackles for loss
After recording 10 interceptions over the past four seasons, Marshon Lattimore has just one interception during his 2021-22 campaign. With that said, he’s one of just five cornerbacks in the league with 10 or more passes defensed and is a key contributor every night for the Saints.
He put on a remarkable display in Week 5 against the Washington Football Team, recording a career-high six passes defensed. He was a nightmare for the opposing team and you have to wonder why they kept trying to throw his way. We’ll see if Lattimore can continue that play.
6. Xavien Howard
Team: Miami Dolphins
2021 Stats: 8 games, 26 tackles, 2 interceptions, 10 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Career Stats: 64 games, 217 tackles, 24 interceptions, 65 passes defensed, 1 defensive touchdown, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1.0 sack, 6 tackles for loss
Xavien Howard has recorded 22 interceptions over the past four seasons, including a career-high 10 interceptions last year. Expectations were high entering his 2021-22 campaign and he has delivered thus far, adding two more interceptions to his career total through 8 games.
Not only that, but he’s one of just five cornerbacks — along with Marshon Lattimore — with at least 10 passes defensed and he’s on-pace to break his career-high of 20 passes defensed last year. With a couple more interceptions, he would easily be higher on our list of NFL top tens.
5. Byron Murphy Jr.
Team: Arizona Cardinals
2021 Stats: 8 games, 34 tackles, 3 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 defensive touchdown
Career Stats: 39 games, 163 tackles, 4 interceptions, 26 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 2.0 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, 1 defensive touchdown
Byron Murphy Jr. was drafted 33rd overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2019, but hasn’t lived up to the expectation until this season. He’s one of the best corners in the league right now after a hot start to the year — which included three interceptions and one touchdown in Weeks 3 and 4.
Murphy Jr. is one of just 15 cornerbacks with at least 8 passes defensed this season and one of just 15 defensive backs with at least three interceptions. He has already recorded a career-high in interceptions, is nearing a career-high in passes defensed, and still has a lot of games left.
4. Jalen Ramsey
Team: Los Angeles Rams
2021 Stats: 9 games, 46 tackles, 3 interceptions, 8 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 6 tackles for loss
Career Stats: 84 games, 333 tackles, 14 interceptions, 66 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 1 defensive touchdown, 14 tackles for loss
Jalen Ramsey has been one of the top cornerbacks since he entered the league in 2016. After only recording two interceptions over the past two seasons, Ramsey looks like his old self this year with three interceptions through 9 games. He has been excellent for the Rams thus far.
He’s one of just 15 defensive backs with at least three interceptions this season and one of 15 cornerbacks with at least 8 passes defensed. He also has six tackles for loss, which is a career-high for the sixth-year cornerback. It’s safe to say he’s doing well in Los Angeles.
3. James Bradberry
Team: New York Giants
2021 Stats: 9 games, 30 tackles, 3 interceptions, 10 passes defensed, 2 fumble recoveries
Career Stats: 84 games, 363 tackles, 14 interceptions, 75 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 3.0 sacks, 7 tackles for loss
James Bradberry has been a mainstay on the New York Giants’ defense over the past five seasons and is putting together another fine campaign this season. He recorded his third interception of the year in Week 7 — the third consecutive year he has achieved that feat.
Not only is he one of just 15 defensive backs with at least three interceptions this season, but he’s one of just five cornerbacks with at least 10 passes defensed. With two fumble recoveries also under his belt, it’s becoming clear that the Giants have a reliable cornerback on their hands.
2. J.C. Jackson
Team: New England Patriots
2021 Stats: 9 games, 38 tackles, 5 interceptions, 12 passes defensed, 1 defensive touchdown
Career Stats: 54 games, 138 tackles, 22 interceptions, 42 passes defensed, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 tackles for loss
J.C. Jackson is continuing what he has done his entire four-year career — catch interceptions. Over the past three seasons, he recorded 17 interceptions in just 22 games started. He has started in all nine of the Patriots’ games this year and has added another five interceptions.
Jackson has now recorded five or more interceptions in three of his first four years in the league. He has the second-most interceptions in the league and is tied for first in passes defensed. Not only that, but he recorded his first career pick-six against Carolina in Week 9.
1. Trevon Diggs
Team: Dallas Cowboys
2021 Stats: 8 games, 26 tackles, 7 interceptions, 12 passes defensed, 2 defensive touchdowns
Career Stats: 20 games, 72 tackles, 10 interceptions, 2 defensive touchdowns, 1.0 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble
Trevon Diggs is having himself an incredible season as he establishes himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the league. It’s just his second year in the league, but he’s playing like a veteran, making all the right decisions, and is a nightmare matchup for any wide receiver.
After recording three interceptions and 14 passes defensed his rookie season, Diggs already has a whopping seven interceptions and 12 passes defensed this season. He leads the league in interceptions and is tied for first in passes defensed. Expect his success to continue!
There’s Nothing Better Than a Good WR-CB Duel
Look at all those talented players listed above. It’s no wonder why the NFL community looks forward to these matchups, you never really know what you’re going to get and there’s no way of predicting which player will get the better of their opponent. It’s extremely exciting to witness.
And while we discussed the NFL top tens at each position in the league right now, that doesn’t even begin to include all the talented players currently having down years (Jaire Alexander and Julio Jones), or those that have been injured (Sean Murphy-Bunting and Michael Thomas).
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 25 of the Best Linebackers of All-Time
While we don’t always know what the future holds, we can certainly count on the NFL top tens at wide receiver and cornerback to deliver exciting performances when on the field. They’re playing better than anyone else in the NFL right now, so let’s see if they can keep it going.
At The Buzzer, or ATB is the place for those who love sports, life, family, community, and so much more. We are far from the run-of-the-mill 24/7 sports news websites. We not only bring you what’s happening in the world of sports in terms of trades and breaking news, but we also bring you the news that goes on behind the scenes, like big life moments, and so much more. So take a minute and read one of our articles, we promise you won't regret it.