Statistics for defensive backs are hard to read at times. This is because as opposing offenses prepare their gameplans, they can completely take a cornerback by simply not ever throwing at him. We all know that the Cardinals cornerbacks had a rough year. Obviously the lack of a pass rush made life very hard out in coverage, but even still it was a rough are for the Cards.
Pro Football Focus ran the numbers for corners and ranked them a couple of ways. How the Cardinals fared should be be no problem to predict. Some have suggested that the Cardinals trade either Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or Greg Toler because of drafting Patrick Peterson. The following numbers should help you know that might not be a good idea.
It comes down to quality depth. Last season, Toler (a starter) and Michael Adams was the nickel cornerback. Both those guys were among the most targeted corners in the league. They were both ranked in the bottom 20 in being thrown at, basing it on the percentage of times they were thrown compared to coverage snaps.
Toler was thrown at 18.13 percent of the times he was on the field for a pass lay. Adams was targeted 17.83 percent of the time. Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders was the least targeted, being thrown at less than seven percent. DRC was targeted 15 percent of the time.
As for allowing catches, Toler made it out of the bottom 20. Adams was bad, though. He gave up a catch 11.42 percent of the times he was in coverage. Toler gave up catches 10.5 percent of the time and DRC 9.3 percent of the times he was in coverage. To compare, Asomugha did so less than three percent of the time.
I like to look at, though, the percentage of catches allowed differently. I think a better measure is the percentage of times thrown at they allow a catch. Adams was awful here. He was thrown at 64 times and gave up a reception 41 times. That is 64 percent of the time. Toler was at 57.9 percent (targeted 95 times, allowed 55 receptions). DRC was behind Toler. He was at 62.2 percent (thrown at 90 times, allowed 56 catches).
To compare that, Asomugha, when targeted, only allowed catches under 45 percent of the time. Darelle Revis was 41.7 percent and Asante Samuel 45.6 percent.
In 2009, DRC was at a much more respectable 52.7 percent.
Getting to the point about trading Toler or DRC, now that the team has Patrick Peterson, one of the other guys could be disposable. However, by having Peterson, the coverage depth got better. Michael Adams becomes the fourth corner and Toler will likely at some point move to nickel.
Adams was one of the worst corners in coverage in 2010. He is, though, a very important special teams contributor for the Cardinals. Moving him off the field more for pass coverage should be a positive thing. Letting DRC or Toler would not solve that. But keeping that depth is wonderful because you no longer have to rely on Adams in coverage. He can make his mark on special teams.
I am not saying necessarily that Adams should not be a part of the team. Special teams needs guys like Adams. However, if they can get contributions from young players like A.J. Jefferson or Marshay Green, who have the potential to be much better cover guys, from special teams, it might mean that Adams could be let go.
But to those who suggest Toler or DRC be traded in a deal to acquire Kevin Kolb, you should rethink that. Moving reserve players further down the depth chart makes good teams because it means that someone else more skilled moved ahead of them.