The last few seasons I’ve put together articles ranking CB production based on a simple formula I developed tracking their pass defensive skills. This article tracks the most productive Corners through the mid-point of the season.
Here is what I used in my formula: Interceptions, deflections and catches allowed. I decided not to use tackles, sacks etc because, one, they aren't the CBs main duties, and two, they seem more the result of scheme and other players on the field (for example, a CB may have a lot of tackles, but it could be because the front seven are very bad).
To easily get the raw numbers below, I simply multiplied INTs x 2, added that number to the total deflections (reasoning an INT was twice as good as a deflection). Then I divided the total catches allowed by the INT/deflection number.
So for example, if someone has 5 INTs, 20 deflections and 30 catches allowed, I added 10 (5 INTs x 2) + 20 and divided 30 by 30, coming up with a score of 1.00. The lower the score the better. To qualify, I look at players with at least 20 pass deflections or 20 catches allowed. In total, I ranked 77 CBs, which is in line with the average number I look at towards the end of the year.
Some interesting notes on the rankings. First, how amazing is Sean Smith? It seems every time I do one of these he’s right there at the top of the list. This year he managed “only” 7 picks, but gave up only 26 catches and managed 36 deflections. His .520 score is off the charts good. He was leading the league at midseason with a .619 efficiency, but he has really upped his game. By comparison, last year’s best by Dominique Cromartie was .625 and the year before that the best was .639 (also Cromartie). Smith may have quietly had the best season for a CB ever, at least by this metric. Speaking of Cromartie – the “other” Cromartie, Antonio – he just missed finishing 3rd on the list, but didn’t register enough deflections or catches allowed, despite his 4 interceptions. A surprise was not seeing Minnesota’s Derek Cox not make the list, despite his 12 picks, 2nd best all time. Despite his production, Cox gave up 53 catches and only deflected 24, which hurt him. Cox finished 19th overall. There’s always at least one team that has a pair of CBs in the top 10. This year its Washington’s duo of Alan Morris (5th overall) and Zackary Bowman (8th) are that pair. It’s interesting to note the drop of DJ Hayden in the rankings. At midseason he was 2nd in the rankings with a .700 CB Efficiency Rating. By season’s end, he’d fallen back to early and is ranked 21st (1.115). Similarly, Nigel Smith was the 4th best at the half-way mark, but has dropped to 34th.
Last year’s top CB, D. Cromartie finished 8th this year. It shows you how good he is that finishing 8th is considered “low.” Last year’s number 2 overall, Jeffrey Sanchez lost his starting position in Seattle. Bowman was also in the Top 10 last year, though for Chicago. Arizona’s Antoine Cason cracks the Top 10 this year (4th) after a Top 10 appearance last year as well (10th).
There were some high profile rookies taken at the position this year. Tyrone Booker of Miami finished with 3 picks but was pretty effective in coverage, posting a CB Efficiency Rating of 1.263, good for 28th overall. Blaine Hasty, the 4th pick overall finished ranked 31st. The 7th pick of the draft, Pete Nickerson hasn’t fared as well with a CBE Rating of 1.722, good for only 59th best overall. The only other first rounder, Kyan McGrady finished 35th overall with a 1.364 efficiency, but he managed to lead all rookies with 6 picks.
The worst CB who qualified? That distinction goes to Jeremy Briggs of the Rams. Briggs earned an efficiency rating of 3.500 based on 28 catches allowed against 8 deflections and 0 picks. Briggs is a rookie who was picked early in the second round. Though not good in terms of production, he definitely has the tools to be successful.
Here’s the top 10:
1. Sean Smith, MIA (.520)
2. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, DAL (.746)
3. Matthew Diaz, JAX (.767)
4. Antoine Cason, ARI (.771)
5. Alan Morris, WAS (.829)
6. Dre Kirkpatrick, ATL (.872)
7. Dominique Cromartie, SD (.889)
8. Zackary Bowman, WAS (.936)
9. Cory Spielman, CIN (.952)
10. Bruce Johnson, NYG (.971)