Sorry for the delay on this article, but the NFC East is truly PACKED with mediocre to decent cornerbacks and it was tough to sort them. To assist with this task, I have split the CB post into outside CBs and slot CBs. Here are the outside ones.
If you’ve been watching too much baseball to keep up with BGN, please check out the archives below to see how other positions have stacked up in the NFC East.
1. Ronald Darby - RCB - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 71 Tgt - 41 Rec | 418 Yds - 3 TD - 1 INT | 86.5 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 70.6
Key Stat: With just 5.4 Coverage Snaps per Target, Darby is thrown at more often than all but 7 NFL cornerbacks
A lot of Eagles fans seemed ready to wish Darby a fair adieu, and I simply do not understand why. When healthy - which is a big “when”, I’ll give you that - Darby is an above-average cornerback, at worst. 2018 was far and away his worst season in coverage, and, in my opinion, at least, it was an obvious outlier likely due to injury. Darby leads not only all Philadelphia CBs, but also all NFC East CBs in these power rankings.
2. Byron Jones - RCB - Dallas Cowboys
2018 Stats: 69 Tgt - 37 Rec | 481 Yds - 2 TD - 0 INT | 85.5 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 83.1
Key Stat: 59 Tackles led the CBs of the NFC East last year
I remember when Byron Jones was a draft prospect, many headlines used phrases like “Athletic Freak” due to his seemingly super-human physical abilities. Fast forward a few years, and Jones has lived up to the billing. He plays almost every snap on defense and is frequently found on the field in special teams situations, too. He was one of the better pass defenders among CBs in the division, yet he also was regularly making plays in the running game as well. His versatility is something special and he’s a good player for Dallas.
3. Avonte Maddox - LCB - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 33 Tgt - 18 Rec | 218 Yds - 1 TD - 2 INT | 59.9 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 65.4
Key Stat: Led NFL CBs in passer rating when targeted (59.9, minimum 300 coverage snaps)
I’ll get heat for this, I’m sure, but Maddox is one of the top young CBs in the league and I’ll bet all my marbles on it. For being just 23 years old, the way he stepped up when his number was called and played his butt off against the Rams and the Texans in two of the most important games of the year really showed me something. He proved he can be versatile playing over 100 snaps each at the positions of free safety, outside cornerback, slot cornerback, and even special teams. My biggest concern as an Eagles fan is that Maddox will be pushed down the depth chart due to his “young age” and “inexperience” and less talented players such as Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas will see the snaps instead.
4. Josh Norman - LCB - Washington
2018 Stats: 73 Tgt - 49 Rec | 644 Yds - 8 TD - 3 INT | 114.2 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 68.9
Key Stat: 1.06 Yards Allowed per Coverage Snap ranks 4th in the NFC East among CBs
At first glance, you might ask “What the hell happened to Josh Norman?” when you see that stat line. However, when you look into it, the 8 touchdowns allowed by the 31-year-old CB really drove some of those numbers up in a bad way. In reality, Norman’s 2018 season was pretty par for his career. He put up some ridiculous numbers between 2014 and 2016, but the reality of the situation was that he was committing a lot of penalties that were negating big, stat-line changing, plays. He has since relaxed on the penalty front and settled into being a somewhat average corner.
5. Jalen Mills - LCB - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 49 Tgt - 32 Recs | 516 Yds - 1 TD - 0 INT | 107.2 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 57.2
Key Stat: 1 TD allowed is tied for 2nd best mark among NFC East CBs
Jalen Mills is not a great cornerback. I know this. You know, I know this. I know, you know, I know this. Yet you don’t admit it. He is fiery, has green hair, and wears silly outfits so we have embraced him as a champion, but in reality, his off-the-field antics make him much more likable than his on-the-field ones. The Green Goblin has gotten better at stopping YAC, which has resulted in fewer TDs, but he is still quite the liability in most situations. I will concede, however, that in a red zone situation, there are few CBs I’d rather have in the league. I’d like to see him get a shot at safety, but I know it won’t ever happen so for now, I’ll just settle with wishing Maddox was playing.
6. Janoris Jenkins - RCB New York Giants
2018 Stats: 92 Tgt - 61 Rec | 219 Yds - 7 TD - 2 INT | 109.3 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 68.0
Key Stat: 7 TDs allowed ranks 2nd most among NFC East CBs
*See Josh Norman’s description and replace “Josh Norman” with “Janoris Jenkins”.
7. Quinton Dunbar - RCB - Washington
2018 Stats: 44 Tgt - 31 Rec | 372 Yds - 5 TD - 2 INT | 115.0 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 67.2
Key Stat: Targeted one of every 5.3 coverage snaps (3rd most frequent in division)
Like Ronald Darby, Dunbar is frequently targeted. Unlike Ronald Darby, however, Quinton frequently allows big plays, touchdowns, and YAC. The ‘skins trust Dunbar so little that they had to bring in a retired CB to compete with him.
8. Rasul Douglas - RCB - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 73 Tgt - 51 Recs | 641 Yds - 3 TD - 3 INT | 92.3 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 69.6
Key Stat: Went from 7 pass break-ups in 2017 to just 1 in 2018
I like Douglas a lot, but my primary concern with him is that he is incredibly inconsistent. Some games he looks like he’s a future shut down cornerback while in other games you could convince me that his nickname is “burnt toast”. If we can see more of the former and less of the latter moving forward, Douglas could potentially be an impact CB for the Eagles.
9. Chidobe Awuzie - LCB - Dallas Cowboys
2018 Stats: 84 Tgt - 54 Recs | 718 Yds - 4 TD - 1 INT | 102.2 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 64.8
Key Stat: 84 Targets was second most among NFC East CBs
My favorite thing about this guy is his name. Awuzie does a lot of things decently, but almost nothing at an above average level. He is a pretty poor run defender and doesn’t tackle very well. At the ripe age of just 23, though, Awuzie has plenty of time to get his game together.
10. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - CB - Washington
2018 Stats: 10 Tgt - 6 Rec | 42 Yds - 0 TD - 0 INT | 69.6 Coverage Rating
PFF Grade: 67.0 (unqualified)
Key Stat: Retired October 30, 2018. Left retirement for Washington...
For as many names as there are on this list, almost all of them are fairly uninspiring. The good news for the Eagles, though, is that 3 of the top 5 on this list belong to them which is especially good news for the 2019 MVP, Carson Wentz. Stay tuned for a similar article covering the Slot CBs of the NFC East which will be on a front page near you soon!
Thanks to Pro Football Focus for all statistics involved in this article.