BOSTON (CBS) — Provided Stephon Gilmore reports for work this summer, the Patriots sure do have themselves a pretty good one-two punch at the cornerback position.

That much is known well around these parts, as J.C. Jackson’s ascent from scrappy, undrafted rookie to a reliable starter has played out over the past few years. As a result, it’s getting some national attention.

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CBSSports’ Patrik Walker ranked the top 10 cornerbacks in the NFL right now, and the list included both Gilmore and Jackson.

Jackson got the 10th spot, ahead of the likes of Patrick Peterson, Mike Hilton, Kyle Fuller, William Jackson III, Chris Harris Jr., and Byron Jones — all of whom were among those ranked 11-20.

“You’re going to hear about how a couple of those in the honorable-mention list deserved the nod above Jackson, and while that point could be reasonably argued, did you miss the part where I said he grabbed nine interceptions [in 2020]? OK, let me add in how he recovered three fumbles and did this all with only 11 starts in 2020, and how his five INTs in 2019 were in only six starts,” Walker wrote. “If the Patriots do move on from Stephon Gilmore, there can be no doubt who’ll immediately put on the crown in their secondary. The only reason he’s bringing up the back end of this top 10 list is because the 25-year-old still needs to polish his cover skills, but he’s got plenty of time and talent to do it.”

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Gilmore was at the top of the list a year ago, when he was coming off his Defensive Player of the Year season. But a knee injury and then a quadriceps injury limited him to just 11 games last year, which led to his drop to fifth on the list.

“Ahead of the 2020 season, Gilmore was already seeing comparisons between himself and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, and it stands to logic he’ll continue to dominate going forward — once healthy and in a contractual situation he’s pleased with,” Walker wrote. “He was elite heading into 2019, having been a two-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro before going on an absolute tear en route to another Pro Bowl and All-Pro nod.”

Though Gilmore held out of minicamp in New England due to dissatisfaction with his contract, Walker said “whomever he plays for this coming season will be instantly upgraded.”

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While the Patriots (currently, anyway) employ two of the top 10 corners on this list, the AFC East has two higher-ranking corners: Miami’s Xavien Howard at No. 4 and Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White at No. 3. Jalen Ramsey earned the No. 1 spot.

CBSBoston.com Staff