How deep are the New England Patriots at cornerback? According to one metric, that position group boasts two of the top 50 players in the entire NFL.
NFL Network on Sunday unveiled Nos. 100 through 41 of its annual "Top 100" list, in which NFL players vote on the best players in the league regardless of position. Two Patriots cracked the top 50: Cornerbacks J.C. Jackson (No. 49) and Stephon Gilmore (No. 47).
Jackson shot into the Top 100 after finishing second in the NFL last season with nine interceptions. He's the highest-ranked undrafted player on the list, beating out big names like J.J. Watt, Chase Young, Justin Herbert and George Kittle.
The fourth-year cornerback clearly has the respect of his peers, who marveled at Jackson's ability to be in the right place at the right time in 2020.
As for Gilmore? He dropped to just two spots ahead of Jackson after ranking No. 9 on last year's Top 100 list. The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year had a down year by his standards in 2020, missing five games due to injury and missing out on First-Team All-Pro.
Gilmore still was a Pro Bowler in 2020, though, and talented wide receivers like Stefon Diggs and Chris Godwin still view him as a shutdown corner.
These rankings highlight how much Jackson improved in 2020, nearly reaching Gilmore's elite level despite missing out on the Pro Bowl. But while Gilmore regressed in 2020, he's still viewed as the Patriots' No. 1 corner, which makes it imperative that he and New England work out their contract differences prior to the season.
The 30-year-old has been on the Patriots' physically unable to perform list since the beginning of training camp as he deals with a torn quad, but if he and Jackson are both on the field in Week 1, they'll form one of the top cornerback duos in the NFL.