One of my favorite football sites on the web is ProFootballFocus.com, a site that does hours of analysis and grades every player on every snap of every game.
The result is a system of premium advanced statistics that they use to really find out who are the best (and the worst) players in football at their respective positions.
I’m a big fan of their work, and I’ve written about it quite a few times here on this site, especially when it pertains to the New York Jets.
Recently, PFF writer Khaled Elsayed wrote a piece about cornerbacks, and how fans of the site are constantly asking the PFF staff about cornerbacks on Twitter, as it’s a hard position to judge from the naked eye.
While the full 2011 statistics are only available with a premium membership to the site, Elsayed was kind enough to give the fans what they wanted. He wrote about some of the best (and worst) corners this season.
Using a stat similar to completion percentage for a quarterback, Elsayed revealed the cornerbacks with the lowest catch percentage allowed in their coverage responsibilities, using a receptions per target formula.
Jets All-Pro Darrelle Revis, no surprise, was at the very top of these rankings, allowing a league-low catch percentage of just 41.2%, 35 receptions in 85 targets.
It should be noted that Revis’s partner in crime, Antonio Cromartie was a very respectable sixth in the NFL, allowing a catch rate of 46.4%, with 39 receptions on 84 targets. Not too shabby.
2010 first round pick Kyle Wilson, the Jets’ slot cornerback, was 8th worst in the NFL however, allowing 40 receptions in 60 targets for a catch rate of 66.7%. He made strides this year, but that’s got to get better next year.
In addition to the catch rate, the Pro Football Focus guys also have a stat that calculates a quarterback’s passer rating when throwing at the coverage of certain defenders, and guess who’s at the top of that list, too?
Yes, Revis led the NFL with a spectacular passer rating against of just 45.6 in those 85 targets, the lowest rating of any cornerback by far. Asante Samuel of the Philadelphia Eagles was second, at 52.4.
If you believe in PFF’s advanced stats, there is no doubt what it means concerning Darrelle Revis compared to other cornerbacks in football. There is no comparison. Revis is simply head and shoulders above the rest.
In fact, Pro Football Focus named Revis as their runner-up for 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, an award they (rightly) gave to San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith, who is an absolute beast.
Here’s some of the things they wrote about Revis in their DPOY article:
With nearly half the season gone … Revis had allowed only 10 receptions and had knocked down or intercepted as many passes as he given up.
If that extrapolated to the entire year it would almost certainly be the best year anyone had had in the history of the NFL. Well, as we know things didn’t quite turn out that way but that shouldn’t diminish what is still an unbelievably good year for him.
In the end quarterbacks throwing into his coverage netted a 45.6 rating; tops among all corners and his 15.6 Coverage Snaps per Reception ranked seventh behind players who never tracked the opposition’s top receiver or played the slot.
Throw in the fact that despite his style of play he was only flagged three times and you understand why he was our second choice defender.
Not bad, huh? The Jets are lucky to have an elite talent like Darrelle Revis, and hopefully he’ll be a Jet for life. He’s the type of cornerstone player (no pun intended) that you can build a defense around for a long time.