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Green Zone League Articles

2020 GZL Most Productive Cornerbacks (So far!)
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to gzl-football.com

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 normally look at players with at least 20 pass deflections or 20 catches allowed. Since we’re around the mid-point of the season, that number is 10 pass deflections or 10 catches allowed. I’ve tweaked this over the years, but I feel like this captures most, if not all, of those who should qualify. In total, I ranked 77 CBs, which is in line with the average number I look at, though slightly higher. Last year at the mid-point I ranked 73 CBs.

Some interesting notes on the rankings. First, it’s hard to believe the year that Claudio Ambellina is having. He has 7 picks already and is on pace to shatter the league record. Can he keep it up? If he keeps having games like his 3 interception performance against Carolina, then yes. Ambellina finished 8th on last year’s final list and has been a strong defender throughout his career. Buffalo’s Keith Schultz, however, has not. Hard to say what’s gotten into the 5’10” former 5th rounder but he’s having a career year with 20 deflections while allowing only 15 catches. Also worth noting that Oakland’s Jake Meadows would have landed on the Top 10 with another deflection. He just fell short of qualifying, but has had an exceptional year.

Last year’s highest ranked CB David Amerson comes in at 33rd so far this season, though with 4 picks, I don’t think the Vikings are that concerned. As usual there is a great deal of variety from year to year on performance. Aside from Amerson, of last year’s Top 10 most efficient CBs, 3 are back in the Top 10 (Ambellina, Richard Sherman, and Jimmy Smith), one is just outside at number 11 (Eric Victorino), 2 are either injured (Darqueze Dennard) or just missed qualification (Camden Pietarila), and two are near the bottom in the rankings sitting in the 50s (Cory Spielman, Jamar Taylor). We can be sure to see a lot of movement between now and the end of the season.

Usually, at least one team puts two CBs in the Top 10. The Bucs have both Ambellina and Jordan Poyer among the best. The Ravens have Victorino and DeMarcus Milliner just outside the Top 10 at 11th and 12th respectively. Baltimore also have Sanders Commings ranked 21st, which is pretty impressive. New Orleans and Green Bay are the only two other teams with two CBs in the Top 20.

There were some high profile rookies taken at the position this year. Of the 5 first round Corners, none fared better than 53rd (Vernon Hargreaves) and together they averaged finishing 65th overall. CB Chikae Reeder of the Patriots finished almost dead last with 0 picks, 6 deflections and 23 catches allowed. The only other rookie who qualified was Buffalo’s Junior Malloy. Junior is not having a good year with 0 picks, 0 deflections and 11 catches allowed. Technically, his numbers don’t qualify because the formula doesn’t work dividing with the zeroes. Still, the young CBs usually struggle and then in a couple years are at the top of the leader board.

The worst CB who qualified? Not counting Malloy above (though we should), that goes to Indy’s Devon Harrison who has a 4.500 rating.

Here’s the top 10:

1. Claudio Ambellina, TB (CB Efficiency Ratio of .600)
2. Keith Schultz, BUF (.682)
3. Braylon Bender, NE (.742)
4. Marquis Robinson, KC (.769)
5. Commodore Bell, ARI (.773)
6. Cobrani Rogers, GB (.792)
7. Jordan Poyer, TB (.857)
8. Richard Sherman, SD (.864)
9T. Jimmy Smith, PHI (.875)
9T. Walter Willis, DAL (.875)
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