I made the statement that Kyle Arrington is a top 10 slot corner when evaluating the Patriots secondary. Pulpiteer ISN challenged that sentiment. "Prove it," he declared (he may or may not have been smoking a cigar and wearing a monocle, while stroking a cat).
The best place for these sort of statistics is Pro Football Focus, where they meticulously count yardage and snaps for every player on the field. We can have opinions regarding their grades (I tend to give them more credence than others), but their stats are usually rock solid.
So I immediately went to their cornerback slot coverage stats and pulled the last two years of data.
When looking at cornerbacks with over 300 snaps in the slot (24 qualifying players), we see that Kyle Arrington allowed a reception, on average, every 9.72 snaps in slot coverage. He ranked 7th overall. Argument over, hatchet burried, all the proof we need that Arrington is a top 10 slot corner: confirmed.
Unfortunately, curiousity got the best of me and started to look into other aspects of these slot statistics- and the results aren't pretty. I expanded the qualifiers to those with 250+ snaps in slot coverage over the past two seasons (35 qualifying players) and compiled the stats to come up with cumulative raw data and coverage rates.
1) Snaps. Arrington has played 525 snaps in the slot over the past two seasons, ninth most in the league.
2) Targets. He has been targeted 91 times, eigth most in the league.
3) Yards. He has allowed 744 yards, sixth most in the league.
4) YAC. He has allowed 321 yards after the catch, 7th most in the league.
5) TDs. He has allowed 7 touchdowns, worst in the league.
6) INTs. He has one interception, which puts him in the bottom half of slot corners.
Raw numbers can be slightly deceiving as a player who has more time on the field will inevitably face more targets than those who are on the sideline. To provide more helpful numbers, rate statistics paint a better picture.
1) Snaps per target (larger is better): 5.77, rank 25th. A top 10 player: 6.62
2) Snaps per receptions (larger is better): 9.72, rank 11th. A top 10 player: 9.78
3) Completion rate (smaller is better): 59.3%, rank 6th. A top 10 player: 61.2%
4) Yards per snap (smaller is better): 1.42, rank 28th. A top 10 player: 1.00
5) YAC per reception (small is better): 5.94, rank 28th. A top 10 player: 4.30
6) YAC per snap (smaller is better): 0.61, rank 24th. A top 10 player: 0.44
What we see is a player who does a good job of not allowing receptions, but if the reception is made, the opposing receiver will wreak havoc. Arrington is a boom-bust player in coverage, with the busts dragging down his production. It's kind of shocking as head coach Bill Belichick doesn't seem to be the type that would encourage inconsistency.
Of course, a cornerback can also add value against the run and as a tackler. Out of the 110 cornerbacks who have spent 500+ snaps on the field (in general) over the past two seasons, we can see how many times a corner has a) stopped the opposing player for a minimal gain; b) missed their tackles.
From a cumulative perspective Arrington rates fairly well, ranking 25th with 30 stops and missing only 11 tackles.
Evaluating the rates shows that Arrington is a strong tackler, missing on 8.9% of his attempts for 28th place, or nearly in the top 25% of corners. When it comes to big plays, Arrington is middle of the pack, ranking 48th with a stop every 1.89 snaps and 67th with 26.5% of his tackles being a stop (high numbers are better for both).
Comparing Arrington to the other Patriots cornerbacks is more interesting, as it paints a surprising picture.
1) Logan Ryan is a monster, ranking 5th out of 110 with a missed tackle rate of 5.9%. He has a stop on 31.3% of his tackles, which ranks 42nd.
2) Darrelle Revis is also a monster, ranking 6th with a stop on 43.9% of his tackles.
3) Alfonzo Dennard and Aqib Talib are towards the bottom of the rankings. Dennard (1.20%, 88th) and Talib (0.73%, 108th) rank poorly in percentage of snaps that end up in a stop, although it is likely due to coverage style; Brandon Browner ranks alongside them (1.12%, 92nd).
The trio again ranks in the bottom quartile in stops per tackle, with Dennard (20.5%, 88th), Browner (17.8%, 97th), and Talib (15.8%, 102nd) playing tight with their receivers and not being able to convert tackles into stops. This is normal as other press corners fall to the bottom as well (Richard Sherman, 24.0%, 78th; Patrick Peterson, 21.9%, 85th).
More concerning are the missed tackle rates where Talib (15.6%, 83rd) and Dennard (17.0%, 89th) came in at the bottom (Browner ranked a confident 39th with 10.0%).
As a result, don't be surprised if Ryan continues his journey to the top and pushes Dennard down the depth chart.
When evaluating Arrington, we can use the numbers to describe his style of play. He prevents completions (the low completion rate) and is an above average tackler (low missed tackle rate), but if the pass is completed Arrington is out of position to make a play and the opposing receiver will have a big gain (all the high rates).
Above average tackler. Great at preventing completions in the slot. Struggles at defending after the completion.
The numbers don't lie; Arrington isn't a top 10 slot corner. When evaluating him a full player, placing him in the middle of the pack might be fair. But if Arrington is expected to be an elite slot corner, and to earn his new contract, he's going to have to learn to improve his skill set after the catch.
ISN's challenge flag has been reviewed and his challenge is upheld. I'll get you next time ISN...next time.