Xavien Howard and Byron Jones Ranked 6th in Latest Cornerback Rankings

Xavien Howard Mark Brown / Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are entering the 2020 season with a stronger duo at cornerback, based in part on a new ranking that places Xavien Howard and Byron Jones sixth among the league’s 32 teams.

Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report pointed out how valuable such players have become in the current NFL, where the passing game has become a central component of most NFL offenses.

  1. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens
  2. Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty, New England Patriots
  3. Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins, New Orleans Saints
  4. Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr., Los Angeles Chargers
  5. Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, Miami Dolphins
  7. Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, Green Bay Packers

He then offered evidence of why Howard and Jones should be ranked so high.

“Between 2017 and 2018, Howard made a case as the top cornerback in the league, logging 11 interceptions and 25 pass breakups,” Moton wrote.

“Howard’s ability to force takeaways complements Byron Jones, who’s snagged just two interceptions. The former Dallas Cowboy primarily lined up at safety for his first three seasons and then transitioned to cornerback. Since 2018, he’s allowed completions rates below 54 percent, which makes up for his lack of forced turnovers.”

Jones was signed as a free agent during the offseason, with his five-year, $82.5 million deal making him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. That sort of investment is an indication of Jones’ potential in the Dolphins’ secondary.

In Howard’s case, his 2019 season was marred by injury, which limited him to five games in which he had one interception and four pass breakups.

One potential problem in Howard’s case is that he could be subject to a league suspension due to an off-the-field issue that resulted in no charges being filed against him.

One thing that’s certain is that having Howard and Jones at cornerback should help the Dolphins see improvement with their pass defense. In 2019, they allowed 4,198 yards and 39 touchdown passes, the latter number being the league-worst in that category.