Cornerbacks are a bit more tricky than other positions when it comes to their metrics. If you read a previous post on the problems with CB stats, you’ll understand that the stats are rather ambiguous and can be tricky when taken at face value. I’ll try to be transparent and put them in context, but there are many more confounding factors than say…with a running back.
All numbers are hand charted by me. Because a target or ‘burn’ may be a bit subjective, the numbers won’t always line up with other stat services. However, I’ve used the same criteria for each player which means we can at least compare these stats to each other on an objective basis.
QB Metrics featuring Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel.
WR Metrics 1.0 featuring Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marqise Lee and Kelvin Benjamin.
WR Metrics 2.0 featuring Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham and Allen Robinson.
The Trinity of CB Stats
These are what I like to call the trinity of CB stats. Burn rate, which is the number of completions against a defensive back divided by the total number of targets (the number below is adjusted for screens and pass interference). PD Rate which measures how often a DB gets their hands on the ball – a PD rate of 5 would mean the DB defenses the ball once every 5 targets. Finally Snaps/ Targets describes how often the DB is thrown at – the lower the number the more often a DB is targeted.
- Dennard is the clear winner here when it comes to burn rate. While he was targeted at a higher rate than the rest of the CBs, once every 5.73 snaps – he rarely let the WR catch the ball with a burn rate of 27.45%.
- Racking up maybe the most solid overall resume within the ‘trinity’ of stats, Jason Verrett capitalized heavily on his ball skills. He broke up one out of every 2.75 targets which makes him the best ballhawk of this group, if not the entire CB class.
- For a guy who’s getting little hype, Terrance Mitchell did well across all three stat-lines. It may not seem like it, but that burn rate of 35.29% would be best for third in the entire class among the top 10 corners. The biggest concern is that while he had 5 interceptions on the year, he didn’t have many other passes defensed.
- Roby by far comes out looking the worst. He certainly wasn’t helped by his scheme at Ohio State getting beat on nearly 50% of his targets, but on top of that he had the worst passes defensed rate of the entire group. If one category isn’t strong, you’d at least like to see another strong stat – not so here.
Where the Ball was Thrown?
This represents the total percentage of targets for each DB. Targets may not seem important when you can look at YPA/YPC, but it’s important to know if those are being skewed by a number of short or long throws. Green represents a below-average amount of targets while red represent an above-average number of targets. One isn’t better than the other, that’s just the scale I’m using.
- Darqueze Dennard was targeted heavily on both short and deep passes. That certainly contributed to his lower burn percentage, but he still did a great job defending those passes as we’ll see in the next section. He was tested deep by nearly every Big Ten school he played
- Verrett on the other hand was targeted much more in the intermediate 11-20 yard zone where 38% of his total targets came. You’d rather your DB not be giving up those crucial, NFL style throws, so we’ll check in on his defensive prowess there in the next section as well.
- The scheme at Ohio State forced a lot of passes short on Roby where he was either expected to make a play on the ball, or make the tackle. We can see that nearly 55% of his targets came within 10 yards of the LOS.
- Meanwhile, Gilbert’s came in the intermediate zones where he was targeted an above-average amount of times in the 6-20 yard areas.
How Did the DBs Defend Those Throws?
The completion percentage and target charts are essentially linked. It’s doesn’t matter if someone is getting beat 100% of the time if that only represents 5% of their total targets. Green is representative of an above-average completion percentage meaning that the DB defends those zones better than average. Red, of course, means their completion percentage is worse than average.
- Like I mentioned, Dennard while tested deep only allowed an 8.33% completion percentage when targeted 20+ yards. That’s more than half the average for a top-level defensive back showing that his much-debated long speed may not be an issue.
- We can check in on Verrett’s intermediate completion percentage, per the last section here. In the 11-20 yard zone he allowed a 31.58% of passes to be completed, which is above-average. Given how often he was targeted in that intermediate zone and an average completion percentage, that’s definitely something to keep an eye on when watching film.
- Mitchell really succeeds at defending the intermediate and deep zones. His ability to defend those 11-20 yard passes, allowing only a 25% completion percentage is particularly impressive. That may make you feel comfortable about your ability to put him on an island with the WR.
- Justin Gilbert’s inability to defend the intermediate zones combined with his tendency to be targeted there is throwing up all sorts of red flags. Does he have the ability to defend the NFL type routes or is he going to get picked on by better receivers and quarterbacks?
Where Did They Line Up?
This chart represents the technique the defensive back was playing at the start of the play. It’s been simplified down, so press-bail may not represent exact press-bail technique but situations where the DB didn’t get his hands on the WR. This can give you a feel for the experiences of each DB. These don’t tell you about their success playing these, but just the amount they played them.
- Dennard stands out because the numbers bear out exactly what we’d expect – a physical presence at the line of scrimmage. He lined up in press the most out of the top CBs at 27% of the time and then still lined up in press-bail another 28% of the time.
- Verrett may have the least experience playing a variety of techniques. He was lined up 1-5 yards off the line of scrimmage slightly more than half the time. He still had a decent amount of snaps where he played press – around 16% of the time.
- Where Verrett may be the least rounded here, Terrance Mitchell may have the most varied experience. He still pressed the WR 24.42% of the time, but also played off-coverage another 62% of the time.
- Gilbert and Roby both rarely pressed, only doing so around 11% of the time. However where Gilbert played a variety of off-coverage, Roby lined up 6-10 yards off the LOS 67% of the time. Another place the OSU scheme put him in a position to either make a play or give up a completion on short passes.
That’s the extent of the stats here, there are a few more minor stats that I’ve left out for the sake of brevity. I’ll tweet out those and answer any questions on Twitter @NU_Gap. Thanks for reading.