Can Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Be As Good As Asante Samuel?

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 18: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie #23 of the Philadelphia Eagles breaks up a pass intended for Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
This is the latest in a series we've be doing here on BGN written by John Breitenbach (@PFF_John), who is a big Eagles fan and best known for his work on Pro Football Focus. Check out the rest of the series here.

The trading of Samuel to Atlanta was met with mixed reactions by Eagles fans. Some saw it as an improvement, what with his poor tackling and matador attitude, while others appreciated his play-making ability and coverage skills. As is the case in most instances, the real answer lies somewhere in between.

On the face of it - 2011 coverage stats (all courtesy of PFF)

Targets

Receptions

Yards

TDs

INTs

PDs

QB rating

Samuel

61

29

296

2

3

6

52.4

DRC

42

25

354

0

0

6

86.8

Clearly Samuel was much better overall this past season but the numbers are a bit misleading in this instance. Obviously Rodgers-Cromartie was completely miscast in the slot and as a result played much poorer than he otherwise might have.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - slot vs outside performance

Targets

Receptions

Yards

TDs

INTs

PDs

QB rating*

Slot

23

17

169

0

0

2

115.1

Outside

19

8

185

0

0

4

52.5

*Via Brian Solomon who first posted this table

As you can see DRC was much better when he could play his more natural left corner position. Although he gave up more yards, he still limited opposing receivers to around ten yards per catch, a very respectable number.

Cumulative coverage stats (2009-2011)

Targets

Receptions

Yards

TDs

INTs

PDs

Samuel

187

105

1124

12

19

18

DRC (inc. slot)

261

149

2031

11

10

32

DRC (ex. slot)

233

129

1800

11

10

30

Samuel has been the better player over the past few years but that's somewhat to be expected considering the difference in age. One thing that does stand out is that DRC has actually got his hands on the ball more often than Samuel. He has 42 combined interceptions and pass deflections compared to Samuel's 37. Rodgers-Cromartie dropped at least two easy interceptions in 2011, something his former teammate almost never did. Removing his performances in the slot also helps paint a prettier picture of DRC. He only ever played very sparingly inside before arriving in Philly but he wasn't exactly exceptional when he did. Derek of igglesblog.com did a great job of showing how, even without the interceptions, Samuel is a pretty dominant player. Notice however that the former Cardinal also fares well in his study.

Tackling troubles (09-11)

Tackles

Misses

Tackle efficiency

Samuel

93

37

71.5%

DRC

121

26

82.3%

While Rodgers-Cromartie's 82.3% tackle efficiency is pretty poor, it's still far superior to Samuel's terrible rate. DRC has the advantage in this category then even if it is more by default.

It may well be that Rodgers-Cromartie is a downgrade on Samuel in 2012. The latter has been one of the top cover corners in the league over the past three years. Still, DRC has flashed some serious potential, especially in 2009. If he can return to that form then he can become one of the top players in the league and the front office's gamble will have paid off.

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