Cornerback coverage numbers in the 2017 college football season

[Editor's Note: This story was originally published on on October 5, 2017. All words & graphics are mine.]

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With five weeks completed in the FBS season already, some intriguing developments have shaped the college football realm, dominated with talk of those top draft-eligible quarterbacks. With that, comes the other side of the spectrum: the cornerbacks.

Often a hot take, a cornerback's numbers can often be jaded by the total number of interceptions he has accumulated, when in reality, that doesn't show the whole picture of a complete cornerback's full effect on the game. We take it a bit further and showcase those lesser known aspects of a corner's game necessary for the next level, in highlight the top draft-eligible cornerbacks in run stop percentage and in yards allowed per their total snaps in coverage.


D.J. Reed, Kansas State

Reed's ability at getting to the football has been on display for the Wildcats this season. Through just four games for Kansas State this year, Reed has already accumulated 13 stops for the defense, including seven of them against the run on 103 snaps in run defense. Reed's seven run stops rank him third among Power-5 cornerbacks, while his run stop percentage of 6.8 is fourth among that same group. He's missed just one tackle in 24 attempts this season as well, rounding off his abilities outside of coverage.

Denzel Ward, Ohio State

Much can be said about Ward's coverage skills as he has slid into the starting role in Columbus this season, but his run stopping skills have also been a bright spot for the Buckeyes defense. Ward has hauled in five stops in run defense and has a 4.9 run stop percentage, both tie him for ninth among all Power-5 cornerbacks. His 10 total stops on defense are already seven more than he had over his entire career, further justifying his transition to the No. 1 CB at Ohio State.

Mook Reynolds, Virginia Tech

While Adonis Alexander or Brandon Facyson or Greg Stroman may get the most notoriety in that Hokie secondary, Reynolds has quietly been a force against the run, hauling in nine run stops – the most of any Power-5 cornerback through five weeks. His 7.0 run stop percentage ranks him just above Reed at third overall among the same group of Power-5 cornerbacks. If Reynolds can improve on his tackling (five missed tackles in run defense alone), his ability in the slot will continue to be crucial for the Virginia Tech secondary, and get his name passed around NFL draft war rooms.


Darius Phillips, Western Michigan

A seemingly weekly fixture on our Draft Board Risers piece, Phillips has impressed in 2017 since Week 1. Continuing his strong play for the Broncos, Phillips has allowed just 0.43 yards per snap in coverage, having logged 130 coverage snaps, seeing 20 targets, allowing 10 of them to be caught for just a mere 56 yards. Only Duke Dawson of Florida has been targeted 20 or more times and allowed a few yards per snap in coverage (0.41) than Phillips' 0.43, while the Western Michigan standout has allowed much fewer yards after the catch (14 to 24).

Deandre Baker, Georgia

Baker has been highlighted before, for his ability to log keep receivers off the stat sheet and without a catch, holding a mark of 39.0 snaps per reception allowed. In doing so, he also leads all Power-5 draft-eligible cornerbacks with a ridiculous 0.17 yards allowed per snap in coverage. That mark is good enough for third among all FBS draft-eligible corners through five weeks of the season. Baker has been targeted 16 times on 156 snaps in coverage, allowing just four receptions for a mere 27 yards.

Mazzi Wilkins, USF

The Plant High School, Tampa area native Wilkins has been off the charts good for the Bulls to start the season. And for some reason, quarterbacks keep targeting him. Wilkins has seen the 10th-most targets of any FBS draft-eligible cornerback, yet has allowed only 0.49 yards per snap in coverage. He's been targeted a whopping 35 times this season already, and allowed just 10 of them to be caught for 91 total yards. No other FBS, draft-eligible cornerback with at least 30 targeted passes has allowed less than 150 yards into their coverage.

Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech

Another talented member of the aforementioned Va. Tech secondary, Stroman leads ACC cornerbacks with his paltry 0.28 yards allowed per coverage snap, good enough for fourth among Power-5 corners, and tied for sixth among all FBS draft-eligible cornerbacks. Stroman has been the second-most targeted member of the Hokie's secondary, yet has allowed the fewest receptions, seeing 19 targets and allowing just three receptions for 41 yards. There are 206 other draft-eligible cornerbacks who have been targeted at least 12 times so far this season, none have allowed fewer receptions than Stroman's three.

Parry Nickerson, Tulane

Nickerson has had a quiet year in terms of Parry-Nickerson-Standards so far. That's not saying he hasn't been anything short of spectacular. Nickerson has logged 87 snaps in coverage this season (as one of Tulane's first four games has come against triple-option, run-first offense of Navy), been targeted 10 times and allowed only four receptions for 43 yards. Only six of Nickerson's yards allowed have come after the catch. His 0.49 yards allowed per snap in coverage tie him with Wilkins at 34th in the nation among all FBS draft-eligible cornerbacks, and tied for seventh in the AAC.

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