Pre Snap Read’s Tier 1 Cornerback Rankings/Roundup

Is Richard Sherman the best cornerback from the PSR positional series?

This is a long article, there are nine contributors combining on this piece, but don’t be put off because it has been cut into sections so you can pick and choose what to read at any given time. If you are familiar with PSR’s Defensive Back Series, you can skip the next paragraph, but if you have stumbled on this piece as an unknowing new reader, then welcome and I hope you enjoy the previous articles.

I recently carried out a cornerback analysis series with the All-22 NFL tape. Because I was looking to provide in-depth analysis, I watched every single snap from the player’s season and compiled the data under comparable criteria. However, because I am not an analytics analyst, never have been-never will be, the analytics part of my articles was just one piece. The whole article involved analytics, tape analysis and an overall judgment on the player. In short, I wanted to provide context from all angles. You can find the process explained at the beginning of every individual article.

Returning readers, first I must say thank you all for reading and putting up with my lack of brevity. Secondly, I’m going to capitalize this just to be clear THIS IS NOT THE END OF CORNERBACK ANALYSIS’ ON PRE SNAP READS. There will be more and they should come relatively soon, but it is a long off-season and there is value in looking at other positions. I’ve had many requests for different players and always welcome discussion about who you all want looked at, but I will compile that list when I get back to thinking about cornerbacks in a week or two.

Now onto this beastly article(of which I wrote very little and take next to no credit for). One thing I’m very proud about when it comes to this website is the context and variety that has been put in every article. For that reason, it only made sense to bring in even more context and even more variety with a plethora of other writers. Some you’ll already know, some you should already know. Each writer graciously agreed to present a player for me as I ranked them. I am very grateful for their participation and even more impressed with the work they produced.

Let’s be clear on this too: I ranked the players, the guest writers only presented them and had no input about where they ranked(so abuse me about your favorite team’s player). I chose not to include Carlos Rogers. I didn’t feel his play was worthy of an 11th or 10th spot on this list, because it would imply that he was within touching distance of the other cornerbacks. I suspect he is somewhere close to the 20th or 30th ranked cornerback in the league instead of the top 10, if even that.

  • The first section of this article is that ranking, with the guest writers’ presentations.
  • The second section of this article is what I call the Randy Moss Test.
  • The third section of this article is what I call the Hines Ward Test.
  • The fourth section of this article is what I call the Johnny Knox Test.
  • The fifth section of this article is what I call the Isaac Bruce Test.
  • The sixth section of this article is what I call the Tony Gonzalez Test.
  • The seventh and final section of this article is a consistency ranking based on consistency ratings.

 Player Rankings

Number 10: Joe Haden73.6%.
Presented by Josh Liskiewitz of GM Jr Scouting.
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Haden has a solid frame and very good length for the CB position. He displays the top end speed needed to stay with faster receivers in space, and the burst needed to break and close effectively from off the ball as well as recover when beaten on the break. Despite his habit of playing upright, he demonstrates outstanding agility, quickness and body control, which allows him to change directions effectively. When he does play over his feet, he flashes the loose hips and foot quicks to consistently stay on his man’s hip in transition. Against the run he does an excellent job of staying aggressive with his blocker, using his hands to set and shed at the point of attack in time to set the edge and put himself in position to finish.

Despite his athletic superiority, Haden was constantly in recovery mode at Florida because of his poor technique. He consistently gets upright and choppy in his backpedal, limiting his ability to change directions efficiently and often resulting in him losing a step in transition. While he has the strength to play physical at the LOS in press coverage, too often he gives free releases off the snap and does not work to alter his man’s route or establish inside leverage. He also has a tendency to open his hips up too early, leaving him susceptible to double moves. While he is aggressive and willing against the run, he tends to overrun the ball carrier and miss tackles, and must be more consistent breaking down in space.

Joe Haden was an intriguing prospect to evaluate because he has all the athletic and physical gifts needed to be one of the best cornerbacks in the game, but his technical flaws will likely lead to him being targeted often by opposing teams because he constantly puts himself out of position. His main flaw is his upright pedal, which often puts him a step behind out of the break and needing to rely on his closing speed to recover. He also needs to show the same physicality he does against blockers when playing press coverage, as he clearly has the strength and length to affect his man’s route off the LOS but rarely takes advantage of this physical gift. Some teams could be turned off by his 40 time (4.57), but he consistently plays at a significantly faster level on the field. His ability to change directions and accelerate is remarkable considering how high he plays, and if he learns to play with more consistent knee bend and do a better job of staying over his feet, he should develop into an excellent #1 capable of locking down one half of the field and making multiple pro bowls.

2012 NFL Season Total:
Total qualifying plays: 186
Failed coverages: 49
Shutdowns: 27
In Position: 110

Cian’s thoughts:
This excerpt from Josh was adapted from his evaluation of Haden when he came out of college. When I watched him this past season, very little appeared to have changed. Haden has all the talent, but he needs more direction and coaching if he is to ever reach his potential. Maybe Ray Horton, a former defensive backs coach, will be able to get the best out of him.

Number 9: Patrick Peterson62.9%.
Presented by Matt Waldman of Football OutsidersFootballGuys and the RSP.
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A game I’ve been playing in my head lately is to take an offensive player and find his mirror image on the opposite side of the ball. For example, Joey Galloway and Darrell Green were stylistically mirror images of each other. Both had amazing speed that overshadowed their underrated craft at their respective positions during an impressive tenure of productivity. Flesh it out a little more and I think it could provide a nice way to learn about the game.

A current example of mirror images is Dez Bryant and Patrick Peterson. Both are phenomenal physical talents with every tool you want at their respective positions. Physically each is a mismatch for nearly any opponent: strength, speed, and/or change of direction.

Both players are excellent with the ball in the air because they understand how to play the ball or the man and attack the target. They are nightmares to bring down once they become the ball carrier, which lends to their versatility to play their main position and big-play ability on special teams when called upon. Just like Bryant has the strength to block or win position early in single coverage on timing routes, Peterson is a disruptive tackler at the line of scrimmage and can ruin a receiver’s timing with his physical play. Both are improving their diagnostic skills and if they can master this aspect of the game they can achieve a level of dominance for years to come.

2012 NFL Season Totals
Total qualifying plays: 313
Failed coverages: 116
Shutdowns: 48
In Position: 149
Cian’s thoughts:
This comparison is completely on point. Peterson is already doing everything for the defense, lining up in the slot and on both sidelines, often without help, but needs to refine his game if he is to be considered amongst the best in the league. Peterson’s biggest issue is handling quicker, shorter receivers who can turn him and use his size against him. With improved footwork and experience, he may be able to easily overcome this aspect of his game.

For more on the Peterson-Bryant comparison, you should read Matt’s extended piece.

Number 8: Casey Hayward75%.
Presented by Jene Bramel of FootballGuys, the New York Times and Second Opinion.
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I very much doubt I’ll be the only guest submission to heap praise on Cian’s work. Having the All-22 tape is a significant help in analyzing defensive backs but it’s an under-appreciated and under-reported area of football reporting. Cian has done a tremendous job of examining success rates and technique in context. Take some time to read the entire series. It’s more than worth it.

I jumped at the chance to piggyback on Cian’s analysis of Casey Hayward. In a group of cornerbacks that included strong second-tier prospects like Alfonzo Dennard and Janoris Jenkins and Bill Bentley, Hayward stood out to me in Senior Bowl practices last year.

Hayward showed many of the same attributes Cian highlights in those practices. He changed directions fluidly, used his hands well (although he struggled on in-breaking routes against bigger receivers) and showed strong recognition and recovery skills. He also frequently drew the praise of Washington’s defensive back coach Raheem Morris.

I thought that Hayward played very well last year in the slot, but I’m not sure I fully appreciated how consistently successful he was until seeing the analysis here last month. A number of things in Cian’s analysis caught my eye. Though there’s always a risk of confirmation bias — seeing what you expect to see in a stat presentation — I think this is a clear case where Cian’s statistical analysis matches the good feeling you get when you watch Hayward on tape.

Cian charted 252 man coverage plays in which the receiver Hayward covered had enough time to get into his route. The success rate (75%) stands out as almost impossibly good for a rookie corner, but the details of Hayward’s success are telling.

It immediately stands out that of the 252 plays charted, 212 came in the slot with just 40 outside. There’s room to wonder whether Hayward, who doesn’t have great height and struggled a bit in man coverage when playing right cornerback in this analysis, might not project well outside.

But the chart on Hayward’s success rate tells a different tale. Hayward had a success rate of 75% or better on seam, post, curl/flat, double move and crossing routes. That implies good recognition of slower developing routes, routes that break back to the quarterback and the recovery speed to handle most routes that develop after 12-15 yards. Those were things I was impressed with at the Senior Bowl and qualities Hayward’s position coach praised him for last month.

Cian’s analysis has Hayward struggling — though in a relative sense only — on out routes (68%), slant routes (66%). His biggest difficulty seems to be on in routes (42%). That combination would make me wonder if Hayward still needs some technical improvement (footwork and leverage) on very quick breaking routes, especially those coming back to the middle. That’s something I noted during 1v1 drills in Mobile. Whether that limits him should the Packers transition him outside remains to be seen.

Cian’s analysis doesn’t comment on Hayward’s zone coverage ability directly. But attributes like route recognition and the instances Cian highlights where Hayward broke off one route in bracket coverage to make a play successfully on another argues strongly that Hayward can succeed in zone concepts. That’s backed up by Hayward’s near-elite grade at ProFootballFocus over 501 coverage snaps, suggesting that Hayward maintained his elite play on the 249 snaps that didn’t meet criteria for Cian’s man coverage analysis.

Something that Cian notes at times in his scouting but doesn’t come through well in the analytics is Hayward’s instincts. When trying to project whether a young corner will have success in a larger role, I like to see a high number of interception and passes defensed count. Teams will target young corners often. If that young corner can not only knock balls down regularly but convert a significant number to interceptions, it suggests that he often gets himself in position to not just knock the ball down, but pick it off, too. That suggests to me that a player’s route recognition and ball skills have the potential to become truly elite as the game continues to slow down for them with more experience.

That’s what’s exciting about Hayward. He shows signs of being an instinctive, big-play corner who projects as much more than a slot player. In Dom Capers’ aggressive defense, that combination will be a perfect fit.

2012 NFL Season Totals
Total qualifying plays: 252
Failed coverages: 63
Shutdowns: 45
In Position: 144
Cian’s thoughts:
I’ve nothing to add about Hayward, Jene covered it all. All I can add is to let you know that I asked Jene for a short paragraph or two on Hayward, he sent me the expansive and informative piece above. This tells you an awful lot about the passion that Jene has for football and his incredible knowledge of defensive players currently in the league.
Number 7: Champ Bailey81.2%.
Presented by Alen Dumonijic of The Score.
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Football fans are quick to discuss which players are elite, per se, at their position and which aren’t, but rarely consider the volatility of the positions. Take for instance cornerback, as it’s being discussed here.It’s one of the most difficult positions to play because it’s so heavily dependent on not making the small mistakes — the false steps, poor angles, too tall pads and so forth. That’s why when there is an elite player at the position, which there’s very few of, one should appreciate just how good he is.

Champ Bailey of the Denver Broncos is one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks and has been for more than a decade now. He excels at every detail of his position, which is why he’s so damn good. The detail he’s perhaps best known for is his patience. He mirrors the opposition throughout the play and lets the route develop in the process, something that few cornerbacks can do.

Cornerbacks are naturally taught to attack the football whenever they get the chance to but Bailey picks when he will and when he won’t. That is the mark of a truly elite player at his position and a trait that all cornerbacks should look to develop throughout their careers.

2012 NFL Season Totals
Total qualifying plays: 335
Failed coverages: 63
Shutdowns: 48
In Position: 224
Cian’s thoughts:

As Alen has eloquently described above, Champ Bailey is a technician. A technician who excels in every single aspect of the game that you can learn, while still carrying outstanding physical traits for most of his career. Those physical traits are undoubtedly on the decline now. Bailey still appears to have his speed at times, but he is much less consistent with it from week-to-week.

He played outstanding football and produced as well as anybody during the 2012 season, but there is no longer a comfort with him when it comes to covering deep later on in the season. It’s not a knee-jerk reaction to the Torrey Smith game, it’s simple that his body appeared to be slowing as the season went on and that’s not something you can really expect to reverse in a player who is in the latter stages of his career.

Number 6: Johnathan Joseph, 74.8%.
Presented by Joe Goodberry of Cincyjungle and DraftBengals.
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Having watched Johnathan Joseph attentively from 2007-2011 as a Bengal, it wasn’t until he was gone that I began to really appreciate him. Joseph battled nagging injuries throughout his entire career and maybe that poisoned my appreciation, but when I reflected on what he did while healthy, he’s a rare player.

There isn’t one physical ability he lacks or can’t compensate for. Joseph is one of the most athletic corners in the NFL and he rode that title for his first few years in Cincinnati. Over the past three seasons, Joseph has augmented his supreme physical abilities to become a complete corner; he’s a deceptive zone corner, isn’t afraid to lay a hit and has developed his ball skills. On top of this, I believe Joseph is the best man-coverage corner in the NFL thanks to his skill set. His feet are light and precise and his short area quickness make it very hard for receivers to gain separation. His elite speed and acceleration complete his ability to stay with any receiver.

When he’s on the field and healthy, Joseph is a top five NFL cornerback and a player I would build around.

2012 NFL Season Total:
Total qualifying plays: 282
Failed coverages: 71
Shutdowns: 46
In Position: 165

Cian’s thoughts:Joseph is my biggest regret from this series. Not because of anything he or I did, just simply because he wasn’t healthy. I couldn’t get a firm grasp of him because of that, but he still did enough to be one of the better players I tracked in spite of his injuries.

 Number 5: Brandon Flowers82.2%.
Presented by former NFL Operations Coordinator and writer of NFLosophy.
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Brandon Flowers is sort of a hidden gem. He is discussed as a ‘good’ cornerback but he’s actually so much better than that. He’s been tucked away in Kansas City where he hasn’t gotten as much as publicity as he deserves. Flowers is one of the smoothest cornerbacks in the league. His feet are superb (my favorite trait about him) and he uses them well to transition his hips and weight. Flowers does a great job of maintaining control of his body and balance. He’s anticipatory and does a good job of keeping his eyes on the ball. His body control is phenomenal. Even though he is only 5’8″ and 187lbs,, Flowers plays much bigger than his size. He’ll take on large WRs with confidence – and win. He’s not a superstar vs. the run but Flowers is above average and has the mentality to mix it up with a running back much bigger than he is.

The knocks on Flowers begin with the fact that he plays only the left cornerback position. He doesn’t trail a team’s best receiver all over the formation. This is no small deal because it makes it easy for an opposing offense to avoid him – they simply send their best WR to the other side of the formation and Flowers is rendered ineffective versus the other team’s biggest weapon. I also see Flowers struggle with the deep ball. It’s more mentality than anything. He’s aggressive as a cornerback and likes to try to squat on routes. He will sometimes leave himself flat-footed trying to sit on routes and he’s a step slow to turn and run. This gives the illusion that he’s not fast enough to cover the deep routes. The speed is there, it’s just his relentlessness to try to get to the ball first that leaves him slow to respond to a player running a jab step and then streaking deep.

There are very few negatives to Brandon Flowers’ game, but the Chiefs have a special player on their hands. Flowers is a top 5 cornerback in the AFC and with a little more pass rush in front of him and some help in the defensive secondary around him, Flowers should really be able to shine in what should be the prime of his career.

2012 NFL Season Totals
Total qualifying plays: 253
Failed coverages: 45
Shutdowns: 53
In Position: 155
Cian’s thoughts:
NFLosophy got the point I was going to put across here. Flowers is an outstanding cornerback, but there were times when teams moved their worse receivers to his side of the field knowing that he couldn’t move after them. It may be a minor detail, but minor details are what matters when you’re trying to beat out the best in the league.
Maybe if Flowers had faced more of the best receivers in the league, instead of swapping Josh Gordon out for Greg Little, Vincent Jackson for Mike Williams and splitting time between different receivers too often, he may have made it to the very top of these rankings.He’s still one of the best in the league and the Chiefs won’t worry about moving him around this year, because they will have better cornerback depth playing with him.

Number 4: Stephon Gilmore, 76.2%.
Presented by Joe Goodberry of Cincyjungle and DraftBengals.
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“Stephon Gilmore has every physical attribute you look for in a number one – shutdown type. He needs more practice experience in different coverages and general coaching. He shows the zone understanding already and that’s a plus, now he needs to get more comfortable in different man-coverage concepts. He’ll add physicality and scheme diversity to whatever team drafts him. I see him as an eventual top-15 CB in the NFL and should see a couple Pro Bowls.”

That’s how I concluded my Gilmore predraft report. After an unheralded rookie season, many would be surprised if you told them Stephon Gilmore is on track to become a true number-one corner that can do it all. Many of the reasons I fell in love with Gilmore as a prospect reappeared in Buffalo in 2012.

At South Carolina, Gilmore was new to the CB position, but you could visibly see his rapid improvement from his sophomore to junior years and from game-to-game his final season in 2011. His intensity, aggressiveness, natural strength, speed and ball skills were apparent from game one. I figured he’d always fall back on those in the NFL if he didn’t learn the finer points of playing cornerback.

I should’ve expected Gilmore’s rookie year would be full of leaps of progression. He became a more technical man cover corner and more disciplined zone corner as the season wore on. Buffalo didn’t hide their first round pick, they proudly put him on the opposing number one receiver. He played both sides of the field; something less than 10 starting NFL corners are asked to do consistently.

His initial season did nothing to convince me Gilmore won’t reach his potential. I actually probably under sold him.

2012 NFL Season Total:
Total qualifying plays: 366
Failed coverages: 87
Shutdowns: 62
In Position: 217

Cian’s thoughts:
I’ve moved onto watching pass-rushers and pass-blockers since doing this series, but I’m not sure any of the guys I’ve watched so far played as physically as Gilmore. As Joe points out, his aggressiveness and strength is outstanding, but it’s that combined with his balance and natural coverage ability that make him one of my favorite players to watch. In particular, his game against Larry Fitzgerald is incredible.

He’s the type of defensive back who wouldn’t just fight Steve Smith, he’d start the fight before Smith got to the stadium.

Number 3: Leon Hall85%.
Presented by Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated.
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Leon Hall was an All-American and first-team All-Big Ten performer during his senior season at Michigan. Following one game that year, a 17-3 win over Northwestern in which the Wildcats inexplicably tried to attack Hall through the air, then-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said of Hall, “From a technical standpoint, I don’t think we’ve ever had anybody any better.”

Keep in mind that Carr was a member of Michigan’s coaching staff from 1980-2007 and, during his time at head coach, presided over a truckload of standout cornerbacks, including Heisman winner Charles Woodson.

But that’s how terrific a player Hall was … and still is. Hall does not play with the physical aggressiveness of, say, a Richard Sherman, but he is more than competent in all zones and all coverages. Since Hall entered the league in 2007, just five players (a prestigious list of Ed Reed, Asante Samuel, Woodson, DeAngelo Hall and Antonio Cromartie) have more interceptions than Hall’s 22. Only Samuel,  Darrelle Revis and D. Hall have more pass break-ups.

Take out his 2011 injury, and few defenders in the league have been more consistently reliable than Hall. The Bengals were wise to lock him up through 2015, because they’d absolutely miss him if he were gone.

2012 NFL Season Totals
Total qualifying plays: 267
Failed coverages: 40
Shutdowns: 37
In Position: 190

Cian’s thoughts:
I love that Chris pointed out Hall’s technical ability. Hall is one of my favorite cornerbacks because he has everything and he gets the most out of his natural ability. Unlike others on the list, he moves all over the field and covers every single style of receiver without any special help from his teammates. There are very few guys in the league who can shut down a guy like Victor Cruz underneath before running stride for stride with Mike Wallace down the sideline.

His reputation is understated and his character is quiet, but his play speaks volumes more about his quality than I can with any words I write.

Number 2: Richard Sherman, 81%.
Presented by Eric Stoner of BigCatCountry and DraftBreakdown.
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If there’s one word to describe Richard Sherman’s play on the field, “bully” is the first that comes to mind. In many ways, Sherman’s brash demeanor and playing style remind me of a prize fighter, as he uses intimidation and self-promotion hand-in-hand to help put on a show.

Football is the ultimate team game, but there is perhaps no individual matchup more isolated than the interaction between wide receivers and defensive backs. To draw on my boxing comparison once again for Sherman, he shows excellent spatial awareness. Field awareness is incredibly important for an aggressive corner like Sherman – he likes to try and suffocate his opposition, using his length and physicality to smother receivers.

He also displays excellent recovery speed, an unfair asset for a man his size. By the end of some games, it often seems like the receiver he’s going against feels the field closing off around him. But this style can only work if a corner knows where he is on the field, and by knowing where his help and leverage advantages on the field are. Like Cian’s analysis has shown, Sherman isn’t just a brute that is beating up on receivers with un-channelled aggression. He excels at the pattern-reading principles of Seattle’s Cover 3, showing the ability to bait quarterbacks into bad throws and knowing when to break off his coverage to tighten zone windows.

2012 NFL Season Total:
Total qualifying plays: 380
Failed coverages: 70
Shutdowns: 86
In Position: 224

Cian’s thoughts:
The key word I took from Eric’s presentation is suffocate. Being a cornerback who can suffocate space away from receivers as well as Sherman does, with the rest of his talents, is a major, major asset for the Seahawks’ defense.

Continuing with the boxer analogy, if Sherman was a boxer, I suspect he’d be the brawling instigator who plays with more intensity and aggression than anyone else, but still understands how to manage a fight and is too talented to be caught out by one big punch. Sherman could be better than the player I have ranked atop this list, but the Seahawks defense doesn’t need to put him in the situations that would show off his talent to the same degree.

Number 1: Darrelle Revis60.2%.
Presented by Alen Dumonijic of The Score.
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Players like Darrelle Revis don’t come around (or get traded) often. It’s because he has a rare skillset that includes quickness akin to a snake’s strike, and discipline like some of the past greats at the position.

Revis is able to shut down receivers on a weekly basis because of the two traits above, especially the former. He is exceptionally quick-footed, which enables him to be even more aggressive than most cornerbacks because he can quickly make up for any mistakes he makes.

What’s mind boggling about Revis’ talent, however, is that he rarely makes mistakes. He works very hard and obviously soaks up every second of coaching, making him a nearly flawless player on the field. And when he’s playing mistake-free football, he’s able to be even more aggressive, striking receivers with the attitude of a venomous snake.

2011 NFL Season Totals
Total qualifying plays: 332
Failed coverages: 130
Shutdowns: 46
In Position: 156
Cian’s thoughts:

You may be confused in wondering how I have given Revis such a low percentage in comparison to other cornebracks, while Alen is saying that he rarely ever makes mistakes. If there was one percentage that I could throw out from this series of articles, it would be Revis’. He truly doesn’t play the game the same way as other cornerbacks. All of the hype and fawning over what coordinators can do with him isn’t a myth.

Revis plays the game on an island and tracks the best receiver in the game all over the field from week-to-week. His skill-set is such that he can contain players such as Dez Bryant, Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Marshall, while still following Wes Welker all over the field two or three times each season.

For me, he’s still the best cornerback in the league by some distance. Sherman, Hall and Gilmore may be on his level in terms of production and coverage talent, but none of their teams stress their star cornerback the way the Jets stress Revis.

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The Randy Moss Test

The Randy Moss is so named after the hugely talented receiver because it looks at how defensive backs stacked up against the physical freaks in this league. The receivers who have that combination of size and speed and use it to their advantage on the field every Sunday.

It isn’t about the measurable as much as it is about how you play the game, therefore someone like Steve Smith can make this because of the way he beats defenders to the ball and uses his physicality to gain position.

Overall Rank v. Specific CB.

Receiver Name.

Successful snaps/

Total Snaps.

Receiver’s

Success Percentage.

10.Casey Hayward

1

Calvin Johnson

8/9

88%

7

Brandon Marshall

2/7

28.5%

9

Sidney Rice

1/4

25%

Results:

3.7/6.7

55.2%

 9.Patrick Peterson

3

Calvin Johnson

14/25

56%

4

Brandon Marshall

9/16

56%

17

Sidney Rice

7/25

28%

24

James Jones

1/10

10%

Results:

7.75/19

40.8%

 8.Darrelle Revis

1

Dwayne Bowe

10/19

52.6%

3

Brandon Marshall

14/45

31.1%

6

Dez Bryant

6/25

24%

7

Hakeem Nicks

3/13

23%

9

Vincent Jackson

4/24

16.7

Results:

7.4/25.2

29.4%

 7.Johnathan Joseph

1

Brandon Marshall

8/16

50%

19

Demaryius Thomas

2/21

9.5%

Results:

5/18.5

27%

 6.Champ Bailey

1

AJ Green

9/24

37.5%

2

Dwayne Bowe

4/13

30.8%

3

Steve Smith

6/20

30%

4

Malcom Floyd

9/35

25.7%

10

Andre Johnson

4/19

21.1%

12

Vincent Jackson

2/11

18.2%

17

Julio Jones

0/6

0%

19

Josh Gordon

0/19

0%

Results:

4.25/18.375

23.1%

 5.Joe Haden

6

AJ Green

3/8

37.5%

14

Malcom Floyd

1/5

20%

15

Demaryius Thomas

1/5

20%

Results:

1.3/6

22%

 4.Stephon Gilmore

4

Andre Johnson

5/12

41.6%

7

Sidney Rice

4/11

36.4%

13

Larry Fitzgerald

5/19

26.3%

15

Greg Little

1/4

25%

24

Josh Gordon

1/18

5.5%

25

Michael Floyd

0/4

0%

27

Dwayne Bowe

0/5

0%

Results:

2.29/10.4

21.9%

3.Richard Sherman

5

James Jones

3/11

27%

7

Calvin Johnson

3/12

25%

11

Dez Bryant

2/8

25%

13

Larry Fitzgerald

4/17

23%

17

Julio Jones

1/5

20%

27

Brandon Marshall

0/4

0%

30

Steve Smith

0/5

0%

Results:

1.86/8.86

21%

 2.Brandon Flowers

2

Greg Little

2/5

40%

4

AJ Green

4/11

36%

9

Josh Gordon

2/9

22%

13

Demaryius Thomas

4/27

15%

16

Malcom Floyd

2/15

13%

Results:

2.8/13.4

20.9%

 1.Leon Hall

3

Malcom Floyd

1/4

25%

14

Demaryius Thomas

1/7

14.3%

17

Greg Little

1/9

11%

19

Dez Bryant

0/4

0%

22

Andre Johnson

0/6

0%

24

Josh Gordon

0/8

0%

Results:

.5/6.3

7.9%

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The Hines Ward Test

Recently retired receiver Hines Ward made a career out of being a physical receiver who worked the middle of the field. Although his reputation may have been gleaned off the back of his incredibly physical blocking, his greatest value to the Pittsburgh Steelers was his quickness and ability to lose defenders underneath and on intermediate routes. Ward could go deep, but he was definitely a quicker-than-fast receiver.

The Hines Ward Test takes the best quicker-than-fast, or possession if you like, receivers and ranks the cornerbacks in order of how they performed.

Overall Rank v. Specific CB.

Receiver Name.

Successful snaps/

Total Snaps.

Receiver’s

Success Percentage.

10.Patrick Peterson

1

Danny Amendola

4/5

80%

2

Stevie Johnson

8/12

66%

10

Davone Bess

3/7

42%

14

Jeremy Kerley

4/12

33%

16

Julian Edelman

4/12

33%

Results:

4.6/9.6

47.9%

 9.Richard Sherman

1

Danny Amendola

2/4

50%

2

Stevie Johnson

8/19

42%

19

Miles Austin

1/5

20%

Results:

3.66/9.33

39.2%

8.Darrelle Revis

2

Stevie Johnson

28/64

43.8%

5

Wes Welker

9/34

26.5%

Results:

18.5/49

37.75%

7.Stephon Gilmore

8

Jeremy Kerley

3/10

30%

Results:

3/10

30%

 6.Johnathan Joseph

3

Jeremy Kerley

3/7

42.9%

11

Stevie Johnson

3/14

21.4%

14

Davone Bess

1/8

12.5%

Results:

2.33/9.66

24%

 5.Joe Haden

16

Antonio Brown

1/5

20%

Results:

1/5

20%

 4.Leon Hall

1

Denarius Moore

2/7

28.6%

4

Antonio Brown

1/4

25%

7

Miles Austin

4/17

23.5%

9

Davone Bess

2/11

18.2%

13

Victor Cruz

4/26

15.4%

Results:

2.6/13

20%

 3.Brandon Flowers

5

Stevie Johnson

2/6

33%

11

Denarius Moore

1/6

16%

19

Lance Moore

0/4

0%

Results:

1/5.3

18.9%

 2.Champ Bailey

13

Antonio Brown

2/12

16.7%

Results:

2/12

16.7%

1.Casey Hayward

3

Lance Moore

3/5

60%

8

Jairus Wright

5/18

28%

13

Victor Cruz

1/6

16%

Results:

3/29

10.3%

————————————————————–————————————————————–—————-

The Johnny Knox Test

Although he was forced to retire after just a few years in the league, Johnny Knox’s career average still finished up as 16.6 yards, 114th in NFL history. For that reason, this test that judges how cornerbacks did against the best speedster receivers in the league is named after him.

10.Patrick Peterson

7

DeSean Jackson

13/28

46%

13

Chris Givens

8/13

38%

Results:

10.5/20.5

51.2%

9.Joe Haden

1

Donnie Avery

4/8

50%

3

Torrey Smith

2/4

50%

4

T.Y Hilton

3/7

42.9%

7

Mike Wallace

2/6

33%

8

Darrius Heyward-Bey

3/10

30%

12

DeSean Jackson

5/21

23.8%

Results:

3.16/9.3

34%

 8.Johnathan Joseph

5

Donnie Avery

5/19

26.3%

Results:

5/19

26.3%

 7.Champ Bailey

6

Darrius Heyward-Bey

4/13

30.1%

8

Torrey Smith

7/30

23%

Results:

5.5/21.5

25.6%

6.Stephon Gilmore

1

T.Y Hilton

3/6

50%

20

Chris Givens

5/27

18.5%

Results:

4/16.5

24.2%

 5.Richard Sherman

3

Titus Young

5/13

38%

21

Chris Givens

3/20

15%

26

Andre Roberts

1/12

8%

Results:

.75/12.3

21.3%

 4.Brandon Flowers

1

Devery Henderson

4/10

40%

7

Donnie Avery

3/12

25%

14

Mike Wallace

1/8

12.5%

15

Torrey Smith

1/8

12.5%

18

Darrius Heyward-Bey

1/11

9%

Results:

2/9.4

21.3%

 3.Casey Hayward

2

T.Y Hilton

5/8

62.5%

6

Chris Givens

2/6

33%

17

Andre Roberts

2/13

15%

25

Titus Young

0/8

0%

Results:

2/9.4

21.3%

 2.Leon Hall

10

Mike Wallace

2/12

16.6%

16

Torrey Smith

2/16

12.5%

Results:

2/14

14.3%

1.Darrelle Revis

4

DeSean Jackson

3/10

30%

18

Darrius Heyward-Bey

0/16

0

Results:

3/26

11.5%

————————————————————–————————————————————–—————-

 The Isaac Bruce Test

As part of the greatest show on turf, Isaac Bruce will always be remembered for being one of the most decorated receivers of all-time. For his career, he currently ranks seventh in receptions with 1,024, fourth in receiving yard with 15,208, 10th in receiving touchdowns with 91 and 25th in all-purpose yards with 15,399. At his peak, Bruce could do it all and do it consistently well. He was one of the most difficult players to cover during his time in the league because of that all-around play and ability. Therefore, this test looks at how cornerbacks did against the most well-rounded receivers who went against them.

Overall Rank v. Specific CB.

Receiver Name.

Successful snaps/

Total Snaps.

Receiver’s

Success Percentage.

 10.Patrick Peterson

5

Percy Harvin

3/6

50%

6

Roddy White

3/6

50%

8

Brandon Gibson

6/13

46%

9

Michael Crabtree

8/19

42%

12

Brandon Lloyd

3/8

38%

15

Brian Hartline

4/12

33%

19

Jordy Nelson

1/5

20%

23

Golden Tate

2/13

15%

24

James Jones

1/10

10%

Results:

3.4/10.2

33%

 9.Stephon Gilmore

2

Brandon Gibson

2/4

50%

3

Santonio Holmes

3/7

42.9%

6

Michael Crabtree

3/8

37.5%

11

Reggie Wayne

3/10

30%

12

Brandon Lloyd

10/36

27.7%

18

Brian Hartline

9/37

24.3%

19

Justin Blackmon

6/25

24%

Results:

5.14/18.14

28.3%

 8.Joe Haden

2

Anquan Boldin

3/6

50%

10

Reggie Wayne

1/4

25%

11

Rod Streater

1/4

25%

13

Eric Decker

4/18

22%

Results:

2.25/8

28.1%

 7.Johnathan Joseph

6

Brandon Lloyd

11/42

26.2%

7

Cecil Shorts

2/8

25%

8

Justin Blackmon

1/4

25%

9

Jordy Nelson

5/22

22.7%

Results:

4.75/19

25%

 6.Brandon Flowers

3

Rod Streater

2/5

40%

6

Mike Williams

3/10

30%

10

Eric Decker

3/16

19%

12

Reggie Wayne

1/6

16%

17

Marques Colston

1/9

11%

Results:

2/9.2

21.7%

 5.Richard Sherman

5

James Jones

3/11

27%

6

Michael Crabtree

3/11

27%

10

Brandon Lloyd

2/8

25%

15

Brandon Gibson

4/20

20%

20

Brian Hartline

3/18

16%

23

Jordy Nelson

1/11

9%

24

Roddy White

1/11

9%

Results:

2.43/12.86

18.9%

 4.Darrelle Revis

8

Anquan Boldin

2/11

18%

Results:

2/11

18%

 3.Champ Bailey

9

Brandon Lloyd

6/27

22%

14

Rod Streater

1/11

9.9%

15

Roddy White

1/11

9.9%

16

Marques Colston

2/24

8.3%

Results:

2.5/18.25

13.7%

 2.Leon Hall

6

Anquan Boldin

1/4

25%

15

Eric Decker

1/7

14.3%

25

Emmanuel Sanders

0/9

0%

Results:

.66/6.67

9.9%

1.Casey Hayward

14

Justin Blackmon

1/6

16%

18

Reggie Wayne

1/7

14%

22

Michael Crabtree

0/4

0%

23

Marques Colston

0/5

0%

Results:

.5/5.5

9.1%

————————————————————–————————————————————–—————-

The Tony Gonzalez Test

The Tony Gonzalez test is what you would expect it to be, a look at how these CBs handled tight ends in man coverage. Outside of Casey Hayward, none of the defensive backs I studied really covered tight ends however. Some didn’t cover any at all.

Overall Rank v. Specific CB.

Receiver Name.

Successful snaps/

Total Snaps.

Receiver’s

Success Percentage.

5.Brandon Flowers

8

Jacob Tamme

1/4

25%

Results:

1/4

25%

 4.Casey Hayward

5

Rob Housler

2/6

33%

10

Will Heller

1/4

25%

11

Vernon Davis

1/4

25%

12

Tony Scheffler

6/29

21%

21

Jimmy Graham

0/4

0%

Results:

2/9.4

21.3%

 3.Brandon Flowers

21

Tony Scheffler

1/5

20%

Results:

1/5

20%

 2.Leon Hall

12

Owen Daniels

1/6

16.6%

Results:

1/6

16.6%

1.Richard Sherman

28

Aaron Hernandez

0/4

0%

Results:

0/4

0%

 ————————————————————–————————————————————–—————-

Consistency Ratings

The formula for the consistency rating is this: You take the player’s worst two performances, add them to his best two performances and divide the results by four.

10. Patrick Peterson 40.75

9. Joe Haden 36.3

8. Darrelle Revis: 28.75

7. Johnathan Joseph 28

6. Stephon Gilmore 24

5. Casey Hayward 22

4. Brandon Flowers 20.75

3. Richard Sherman 20.5

2. Champ Bailey 17.75

1. Leon Hall 17.75

You can follow Cian Fahey on twitter @Cianaf