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Eagles All-22 Film Review: James Bradberry could be a superb fit for Jonathan Gannon’s defense

Deep dive on Philadelphia’s new starting cornerback.

Los Angeles Rams v New York Giants Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Back to the rookies next week, but how could I not break down James Bradberry after the Eagles recently signed him? This is a good one and I really enjoyed watching him. I watched film largely from this past season but also a little bit from 2020. Lets go...

Stats

- all 2021 season per PFF and comparing him to players with a minimum of 20% snaps played (129 players)

- 986 snaps out wide, 68 in the slot

- PFF grade of 62, ranks 65th

- 22.6 missed tackle %, ranks 126 (yikes)

- 65% targets caught, ranks 60th

- Allowed 12.2 yards per reception, ranks 84th (Trevon Diggs at 129th with 18.7!!)

- Allowed 262 YAC, ranks 101st

- Allowed 8 TDs last year, ranks joint last.

- 4 INTs, ranks 6th

- 13 PBU’s, ranks 5th

(I’m not sure I ever trust PFF’s coverage man/zone stuff fully but anyway here he go)

Man coverage

- Allowed 16.1 yards per reception, ranks 98th

- 68% targets caught, ranks 101st

- Passer rating of 127 when targeted, ranks 105th

Zone coverage

- Allowed 11.5 yards per reception, ranks 74th

- 64.8% targets caught, ranks 45th

- Passer rating of 76 when targeted, ranks 35th

Strengths

+ Really good at playing the ball in the air, can win in contested situations and will create turnovers. Can play through a receivers hands to stop a completion too.

+ Good footwork and technique to mirror receivers routes, especially in off coverage

+ Outstanding at understanding route depth and dealing with hi-lo situations. Has a really good feel for when to come off the deeper receiver and break on the short route.

+ Has great click and close speed and breaks on the football very well. Has some excellent reps in off coverage.

+ Has a great sense of when to pass a receiver off to the deep safety, especially in quarters coverage.

+ Can play physical man coverage on bigger bodied receivers and matchup with tight ends who are split out wide. Not afraid to press receivers either.

+ Is not a soft corner in the run game. He missed too many tackles last year but it wasn’t for a lack of effort or physicality.

Weaknesses

- Better as a number 2 cornerback, rather than lining up against the oppositions best WR.

- Doesn’t have great deep speed and get can run past on the outside with no safety help. His acceleration is good but long speed is average.

- Can be a little bit overly physical and grabby at times and will get called for pass interference.

- Tackling was poor last year for some reason. He struggled to wrap up consistently.

- His aggressiveness means he is suspectable to being beat over the top on double moves or play action.

Overall

I was not sure about the Bradberry signing after looking at some of the stats but I liked the tape a lot more than I thought and I really like the signing.

I thought James Bradberry’s tape was actually fine last year and better than I expected after what I had read about him. It was quite clear that he is not good enough to be a team’s number 1 cornerback when he just has to line up on the opposing teams number 1 wide receiver and you saw him struggle against the likes of Mike Williams and CeeDee Lamb in man coverage. He doesn’t have great deep speed and this shows when he is asked to play in single-high man coverage and he struggled at this.

However, I thought the film showed that Bradberry can still be an excellent zone corner. In particular, he fits a 2-high/quarters style of defense really well as he has outstanding timing of when to pass of the vertical route to the deep safety as I highlighted earlier. He also has a great understanding of route depths and is good in hi-lo situations. In addition to this, he can break on the ball quickly and has really good acceleration in short areas.

He is not incapable of playing man coverage either, I think some people have been too harsh on him in this area. He showed he can man up on bigger bodied receivers, such as Travis Kelce, as long as he can get physical with them at the line of scrimmage. He will probably be fine in man situations on a lot of number 2 wide receivers around the league as well.

I think the only question I have over the Bradberry signing is what happens if the Eagles want to play more single-high man coverage. In an ideal world, you do not want him lining up on an opposing teams top wide receiver in man coverage. I think Gannon wants to play a lot more split-safety coverage and I think Bradberry will be a superb fit for that style of defense. I am looking forward to watching the trio of Maddox, Slay and Bradberry next year!

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