Ranking the NFL’s Top 15 Cornerbacks
At Dallas News, I ranked the NFL’s top 15 cornerbacks:
Cornerbacks are often ranked by YPA (yards per attempt), but I think that’s a poor metric. When Nnamdi Asmougha was in his prime in Oakland, he was targeted about half as often as other top cornerbacks, but he gave up a high completion rate and YPA because quarterbacks threw at him only when they knew his guy was wide open.
To truly capture great cornerback play, I think you need to reward them for not getting targeted. That’s why yards allowed per coverage snap is the best way to grade cornerbacks. Tracked by Pro Football Focus, yards per coverage snap reflects a cornerback’s solid coverage on a play, regardless of whether or not he was targeted.
Below, I’ve ranked my top 15 cornerbacks. Yards per coverage snap (listed) was one of the main stats I considered, but not the only one. I also think there’s a ton of value in play-making ability. While interceptions are fairly volatile, some cornerbacks have proven capable of making more plays than others even over large sample sizes. That’s why Asante Samuel is rated in my top five despite an average mark in yards per coverage snap, for example; he’s demonstrated a consistent ability to haul in interceptions (and he actually doesn’t give up a lot of big plays), and there’s a ton of value in that.
NFL Cornerback Rankings
1. Darrelle Revis, Jets
- 0.92 yards per target (2011)
2. Richard Sherman, Seahawks
- 1.07 yards per snap
3. Antonio Cromartie, Jets
- 0.97 yards per snap
4. Champ Bailey, Broncos
- 0.82 yards per snap (best in NFL)
5. Asante Samuel, Falcons
- 1.27 yards per snap
6. Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
- 1.24 yards per snap
7. Charles Tillman, Bears
- 1.04 yards per snap
8. Prince Amukamara, Giants
- 0.86 yards per snap (second in NFL)
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