The value of cornerback

Really interestimg Twitter thread from PFF’s Sam Monson:

  1. Let’s start with in this scenario Miami traded up to 2 (and drafted Tua), so the Lions have a straight pick between Chase Young and Jeffery Okudah

  2. I think Chase Young is likely a better player right now than Okudah, but the question comes down to value. It might seem counterintuitive, but all data points to coverage being more valuable, and important in today’s NFL, than pass rush.

  3. Here’s the first article PFF’s Data Scientists did on the topic. There are 3 and counting. Google ‘PFF coverage over pass rush and they all pop up’ ( )

  4. ELITE pass rushers END 15 passing plays/year outright. There’s another 50 they affect with pressure, but those need coverage on the back end to prevent passes getting through. Then there’s 500 more passes that get away and need coverage to deal with.

  5. The relationship is clearly symbiotic. Pressure causes a 35-point drop in QB passer rating. Coverage can buy pass rush time to get home. Like QB-WR, they both make each other better. You want both, the question is one of allocation of finite resources. Here, 1 draft pick.

  6. Anecdotally, smart teams are starting to skew towards coverage over pass rush. The Patriots invested in Revis as a mercenary, paid big money to Gilmore, forever retain McCourty, while letting a succession of DL walk out the door. Ravens have attacked secondary HARD recently

  7. You can make a case that the Seahawks and Broncos awesome defenses of the decade were built on coverage first. Legion of Boom and No Fly Zone. They both had pass rush too, but they didn’t get a fancy nickname…

  8. In terms of PFF WAR, coverage players are more valuable than pass rushers, they impact a greater number of plays overall because of #4. So even if you believe Young is better (I’d agree), Okudah pays off bigger if he hits. The debate is how much is certainty worth?

  9. Anybody acting like it’s a slam dunk either way is crazy. I think there’s value to 1) the level Young is better than Okudah and 2) the confidence we have in that being true. But we also all need to recognize it’s not a certainty. ELITE prospects have busted plenty before.

  10. But ultimately all of the information is pointing to the fact that in a passing league, where the ball has never been coming out faster, pass rushers are becoming less impactful than elite coverage defenders, so Okudah’s potential payoff makes him worth the extra uncertainty.

  11. We also need to stop throwing out terms like ‘generational talent’ without context. Quinton Nelson was a legit generational talent, but he’s a guard, so we all know you pass on him for a QB, CB, elite position. There are more factors at play. Evaluate them all. Fin

Here’s the link to it:


This is true. It’s why “pressures” is probably a more telling stat concerning pass rushing consistency and also explains why Kennard is gone–he was one of the worst in that dept. over the past 2 years.

I dunno. I see more value in guys like Bosa, Donald and the ones who completely ruin plays instantly.

If the ball was truly coming out faster, why are the sacks just as high, if not higher than they were 10 years ago?

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I dunno, but it seems like the ball coming out faster would be a pretty easy thing to track (especially for a guy who works at PFF), so I doubt he’s making it up.

Not sure how “all data” points to coverage being more important than pressures when the chart I posted the other day shows almost the exact opposite.


Yeah, seemed to work good last year!..I wouldn’t change a thing. LOL
Let’s invest in DB’s and no pass-rushers and only rush 3 every pass play.
(of course I’m only kidding)

Odd that BQ and MP targeted Flowers and lower-level DB’s, heh?

Teams target pass-rushers first, secondary second. It’s not science.

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To an extent I think it’s because stats can be used to back up almost any point (or agenda). The pro-pressure guys can point to certain things, the pro-coverage guys can point to others. I just thought this guy made an interesting argument, really, and one that ran counter to most of the arguments in here. I think the most important point he made is how symbiotic they are.


Yeah this is always apples to oranges. I would argue that in today’s NFL a 3 down LB that can cover is more important than either DE or LB.

First down…the LB knives through for a TFL on the RB
2nd down…the LB drops into coverage and gets a PD on the pass to the TE
3rd down…the LB blitzes around the edge and gets the sack

The Corner…what do they do other than cover on passing downs for the most part? I know…thats oversimplified.

DE can impact the game more than the corner.

Anyway…thats my 2 cents.


You’re not allowed to make that point. Pasqualoni made that point and everyone knows he’s stupid like the HC.


Another consideration is basic supply and demand.

How many teams lock up pass rushers vs. corners? Seems many more decent cornerbacks are available in free agency year to year than stud pass rushers. I have no data on it, but seems to be the case. There has really been a ton of CBs changing clubs this offseason.


Without taking a side in this argument, this is a valid subject.
I will add another. DL take more time off, albeit, that is a matter of scheme. Most corners of the shutdown variety play every down.
Really, the Lions cannot lose with the pick, they can only lose by misusing the pick.

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Opposing teams have to game plan around Chase Young. The value of this can not be quantified.

A shutdown corner eliminates 1 route on a given play, which is valuable but not close to the impact CY has.


Would you rather have Lawrence Taylor or Deion Sanders? Reggie White or Darrell Green? Bruce Smith or Charles Woodson? Aaron Donald or Jalen Ramsey? I’ll take the DL players every time in the draft. I’m not saying Okudah and Young will be as good as those guys, but just looking at best case scenarios.


I don’t know this for a fact because I’m too lazy to look but wouldn’t sacks go up if teams are passing more? More passes = more chances to sack.

I was responding to the theory that QBs are getting rid of the ball faster, which should make sacks decrease, but I hear ya.

I still think it’s clear that an elite DE is much more valuable than an elite CB. DE’s can factor in on every play they are on the field for. Run, pass, fumble, batted ball, sack, hit, hurry, drawing a holding penalty, etc.

CBs factor in IF: They throw to his guy, the defensive line allows the RB to bust thru and he happens to run towards that particular way.

Just watching a replay of Falcons and Niners on NFLN while working.

Bosa is rushing Ryan with Jake Matthews blocking. “Mathews is on an island” as he successfully blocks Bosa while Ryan delivers a shot to Julio Jones in the endzone.

Speaking of “islands”, that’s where a shutdown corner lands, taking away the opponent’s top option. A game plan for elite rushers is elite LT play. Likewise, a game plan for elite receivers is elite CB play.

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In the case of the Lions they are getting rid of the ball faster but it’s not going to WR’s necessarily, it’s going to players being covered, and I use that term loosely, by our LB’s.

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I agree it will slow them down but tough to win all game, unless you could hold like Revis and not get called. I will stand by something that Deon Sanders said about facing an elite receiver. He said since they often require double coverage it makes more sense to put your #2 corner on him with a safety providing help. Your #1 corner shuts down the #2 receiver so it takes away a lot of the passing attack.

IMWO there are very few CBs who can take on an elite WR 1 on 1. Slay was good but going 1 on 1 with Keenan Allen didn’t work. The problem to me is if you want to rely on a shut down corner you need 2. If you only have 1 the other side will get exploited. Melvin, Lawson, Hayden and the rest of the guys who played opposite Slay.


I believe CB is undervalued on this board.

Look no further than 2014 with the amazing Lions DL. It is simply too easy to dump off to avoid a rush and to chop block to slow down a DE.

A true #1 CB who covers a #1WR constantly forced a QB to make a second read. Taking away that first read helps a pass rush.

Top pass rushers make it to the open market often. Clowney is available right now! Ziggy, Robert Quinn and many others have changed teams recently. There is often a trade like Frank Clark or Chandler Jones. Clowney. Hell…the Vikes traded for JARED Allen years back too. Same with CB. The Chiefs acquired their man from the Rams right? I forget his name. The Broncos picked up Champ Bailey and traded Portis.

These elements work together. If you cannot cover you are in trouble and no pressure spells death. DT is the best pressure as helping is hard and a DT forces a QB into his teammates.

The Lions has a stud #1 CB. They valued him so much, that they dealt him for a late 3rd and 5th. Now it’s a good idea to take a CB in the top 10 to replace the player you just gave away.