Signature Stat Snapshot: Cornerback Rating

Reaching into the bevy of coverage statistics in the PFF Premium section, Mike Renner examines cornerbacks and the NFL Passer Rating they've allowed on throws their way.

| 5 years ago

Signature Stat Snapshot: Cornerback Rating

When it comes to coverage analysis, PFF offers the most comprehensive tools and statistics available today. We track coverage numbers much like traditional wide receiver figures, looking at yards, yards after catch, targets, completions, touchdowns, interceptions, passes defended and, perhaps most importantly, coverage snaps.

This allows for the same type of comparative analysis that is normally reserved for offensive positional players, and does so with a whole added dose of context. Context that shines through with our Signature Stats.

The coverage Signature Stats that we will be looking at today is the NFL Passer Rating Allowed. PFF offers other stats that delve deeper into a per-play basis, but the NFL Passer Rating is a great stat for looking at a cornerback’s performance when targeted. The statistic is calculated just like it sounds, using the NFL’s quarterback rating system based on a quarterback’s performance when targeting each cornerback. Quarterback rating is not a perfect system but it does take into account many stats that are important in coverage like completion percentage, yards per attempt, interceptions, and touchdowns.

Note: The cutoff was set at 140 coverage snaps through seven weeks

The Top End

Chicago’s Shutdown Duo

If you are looking for the best cornerback combo right now in the NFL, it’s hard to go wrong with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. The only other choice would be Seattle’s duo, but the Bears’ corners have them bested in NFL Rating, Yards per Snap, touchdowns, and interceptions. If you watched Tillman’s performance against Calvin Johnson on Monday Night football you would have seen just how suffocating their corners can be, as Johnson was held to only 34 yards on 12 targets. These two have been good in the past, but they’ve taken it to a whole new level this year.

Webb’s Impact

Lardarius Webb proved last year that he is one of the best corners in the league and was on his way toward backing it up this year when an ACL injury sidelined him for the season. Through six games he had allowed only 111 yards and an NFL Rating of 42.2 against. To say losing him will have a big impact on the team is an understatement. Teams had stopped testing Webb and were picking on Cary Williams, who has been abysmal so far. Williams is giving up an NFL Rating against of 104.6 and has given up the second-most yards in the NFL with 508. Webb’s replacement, Jimmy Smith, hasn’t been much better. He’s given up twice as many yards as Webb in only eight more snaps, for an NFL Rating of 93.6. It is clear that the Ravens’ secondary is not the same at all without Webb and they could be in serious trouble if someone doesn’t step up.

Second-Year Standouts

The cornerback class of the 2011 draft may go down as one of the best in history, and has had some players explode onto this scene this year. Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, Chris Culliver, and Richard Sherman have all been top-flight cover corners this season and all are in the Top 10 in NFL Rating Allowed. Combined, they have allowed one touchdown and intercepted eight passes. What they have done is nothing short of amazing, especially considering that Sherman was the only one to have a positive coverage grade last season. This has the chance to be a class that, much like the receivers of 1996, the quarterbacks of 2004, and the tight ends of 2010, people talk about for a while.

RankNameTeamTargetsRecsCompletion %YardsTDsIntsNFL Rating
1Casey HaywardGB291344.83%1660423.7
2Dominique Rodgers-CromartiePHI331545.45%2110328.7
3Chris CulliverSF271140.74%1290140.5
4Lardarius WebbBLT241145.83%1110142.2
5Patrick PetersonARZ421945.24%2491342.7
6Richard ShermanSEA402050.00%2940343.1
7tCharles TillmanCHI301860.00%1370243.3
7tTim JenningsCHI552952.73%2841443.3
9Prince AmukamaraNYG211047.62%1100143.8
10Antonio CromartieNYJ411639.02%2572346.5


The Underperforming

All-Around Bad

It is hard to find any positives in the coverage of Kyle Arrington so far this season. His play on the right side and in the slot has yielded an NFL Rating of 155.8, and he is also allowing a league-high 80% completion percentage. If Devin McCourty were putting up the same sort of numbers he did last year, where he was toward, the bottom in NFL Rating, this defense would be in all-time bad territory. Even still, the Patriots are giving up 290 passing yards per game and a quarterback rating of 99.2. Arrington has never been a great corner and has always given up hefty yardage (1758 yards the past two seasons), but his seven interceptions last year made the yardage palatable. This year, though, with no interceptions and four touchdowns allowed already, Arrington may slowly be playing himself out of a starting role.

Rookie Tribulations

To expect a cornerback to come into the NFL and be a lockdown corner is an unrealistic expectation. No matter the player’s physical abilities or level of play, they will have rookie mistakes that cost them. Two great examples of this are the first two corners taken in this year’s draft, Morris Claiborne and Stephen Gilmore. Both have shown promise, but have committed their fair share of mishaps as well. Claiborne’s biggest mistake occurred on a double move by Devin Hester in Week 4 for a 34-yard touchdown. Gilmore was similarly beaten by a stutter and go Week 1 against the Jets for a 33-yard score. Those mistakes have led to both having NFL Ratings against of over 100. These things are bound to happen — you just hope that, with their talent, they’ll figure it out sooner rather than later.

Tale of Two Corners

For as good as Amukamara’s play has been for the Giants this year, Corey Webster’s play has been equally bad. Webster has been a staple of the Giants’ defense ever since he came into the league in 2005, and his sub-par season so far has been a head scratcher. He is playing as bad a stretch as PFF has seen him play, even though he is only 30 years old. He doesn’t look like the same guy who allowed only 112 yards through four postseason games last year, as he has already given up 431 yards and hasn’t had a positive grade yet. His career success, however, suggests that he can turn his season around. If he can, it will make New York one scary team.

RankNameTeamTargetsRecsCompletion %YardsTDsIntsNFL Rating
76Corey WebsterNYG402665.00%43131115.7
77Morris ClaiborneDAL241770.83%20031118.1
78Ike TaylorPIT442556.82%38150123.4
79Rashean MathisJAX261661.54%29420126.1
80Aaron WilliamsBUF261661.54%22350128.7
81Jacob LaceyDET171376.47%19310132.7
82Marcus GilchristSD251976.00%16940133.2
83Corey WhiteNO332678.79%37230143.9
84Vontae DavisIND181477.78%18320146.1
85Kyle ArringtonNE362980.56%45140155.8


You can find this stat updated on a game-by-game basis throughout the year, along with a host of other innovative statistics unique to PFF. Get yourself a Premium subscription and find out what all the fuss is about.


Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner



| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Shaun

    OMG I know Arrington is awful, but that’s a near perfect QB rating. Going into last season I was all for the Pats cutting him and giving the playing time to Darius Butler (not that I necessarily thought Butler was great, I’d just given up on Arrington at that point and wanted to what Butler could become with some experience). I had to eat my words last year, but now… I wish I was still eating them, but it’s not looking like that’s going to happen.

    • Jack Casey

      Arrington has obviously struggled in coverage this year.. But Bill told McCourty when he was drafted “We don’t have ‘cover corners’. You WILL tackle.” Arrington is a solid tackler for a cb, and even though he hasn’t been in position to show it this year, he has great ball skills.

      • Antonio Moltisanti

        He has great ball skills, but I would like to point out that his interceptions last year weren’t anywhere near what should be expected from him. Charles Woodson got seven interceptions last year because he baited the quarterback successfully, Arrington got seven interceptions last year because the quarterback threw the ball into his lap.

  • izach

    interesting ike taylor is only allowing 56% of the passes thrown on him completed, when everyone else on the bad list are at least in the 60s and most higher than 70%. he seems to alwasy let the big get caught

    • Jaakko

      If they would count in penalties, Taylor would be lower. Those holds that he gets a way with also affect his number. Would be interesting to hear stats about CBs “shirt grab” habits as well. I think I have never seen Antonio Cromartie cover a WR without grabbing his shirt. Most of them are “clean holds” just helping him to keep pace where his guy is going while he looks what the QB is doing, but he gets away with a lot of no-calls as well.

  • twnick2014

    Where does Devin McCourty rank in terms of cornerback rating?

  • Nate

    Morris Claiborne is playing a lot better than your stats indicate.

    • Mike Renner

      Yea, I was trying to note that in the segment with Gilmore. This was his worst of our coverage Signature Stats. His Yards per coverage snap and targets per coverage snap have been good. He has made mistakes though and those have led to his 3TDs and high catch rate.

      • Nathan

        Ya I agree the touchdowns do hurt. But overall he performing well but still is a rookie.

  • Mike

    Imagine if Revis were still around And Antonio Cromartie was playing this well together.

  • Carlton

    This make me beg the question… should Culliver be the starting corner over Rogers in base packages and then have Rogers come in to play nickel, rather than Rogers play base and move to nickel while Culliver comes in to play outside?

  • DerDings

    When did Peterson allow a TD?

    • JoeCB91

      Last week against the Vikings (Harvin) I think.

      • Mike Renner

        Spot on.

  • Mitch Connor

    Casey Hayward = DRoTY

  • Ronk25

    Ike Taylor at 78 sounds about right to me. As a matter of fact I would have guessed worse. Talk about over rated !!!!!!! I’d like to know who signed him to that big time contract hr got last year. IT IS VERY UNDESERVING.

  • Willis

    No mention of Janoris Jenkins?