Whether we need to draft a corner has been a matter of hot debate, with most of us agreeing that a corner in the first is probably not the way to go. The primary reason for this has been that we have a host of young corners. TuffLynx gave a very good defense of this as well as presented the general rule of 1000 snaps. Along this theme I wanted to see how promising our young corners are.
To do this I decided to inspect the correlation between eventual performance of cornerbacks to their performance in their first season. I used three different values for the future performance of the corners, the highest PFF season grade for the corner, the average of their non rookie season PFF grade, and the standard deviation of the PFF season grades. In order to evaluate their rookie years I used their max PFF grade for their rookie season, the number of "good" or "green" PFF games they had in their rookie seasons, the cumulative PFF score of their rookie year, and their lowest PFF score. The correlation results can be seen below.
|Max Season v. Max Rookie Game||Max Season v. # Rookie Greens||Max Season v. Cumulative Score||Max Season v. Min Rookie Game|
|Average Career v. Max Rookie Game||Average Career v. # Rookie Greens||Average Career v. Cumulative Score||Average Career v. Min Rookie Game|
|Season STD v. Max Rookie Game||Season STD v. # Rookie Greens||Season STD v. Cumulative Score||Season STD v. Min Rookie Game|
Basically this boils down to the fact that the Max Rookie game and the number of greens moderately correlate to eventual success, if not necessarily consistent success. It also suggests that the better cumulative rookie year moderately correlates to a more consistent career, and the better the players worse game the more consistent they were year to year.
So how does this relate to the Lions young corners? Well lets start with our rookie Slay. Slay's best game was Thanksgiving where he posted a score of 2.9 according to PFF. Which given our sample group of players drafted after 2008 but have accrued over three years would be a top 10 game high rookie year score. On the other side his game low and cumulative season score seem to suggest he might struggle year to year but I would say at this point thats a relatively minor concern.
How about young Mr. Bilbo Bentley? Well the truth is he hits one of the issues I had. I limited this to rookie years where they played at least two games defensively. I did this because it was an easy delineation point. If I had done something corresponding to snaps the correlations would have likely been greater but that would have required me calculating snap counts over multiple years for over 70 players so I settled with "good enough for government work." This is relevant to Bentley because he only played at the beginning of his rookie season so those were his worse games. He had no positive scores and his cumulative was -7.4 for that year. Now we know he played much better his sophomore year recording three "green" games but even that second year was not all that great. If we went by his first alone it is not promising, as the company he keeps are the illustrious Mike Jenkins and Chris Cook.
What about Jonte Green? If I slayed Bentley, Mr.TURN YOUR HEAD! would have to be worse right? Actually Green comes up pretty good inspected this way. His rookie year he had three "green" (haha) games and a high of 1.6, with a low of -1.7. Basically he did not show the top game performance that Slay did but he wasn't to low or to high. As we can see from the chart the strongest correlation is between number of "greens" and highest max year. So Green looks pretty good, he has one category in his favor just like Slay but unlike Slay his other categories suggest he might be more consistent year to year. Now who does Green compare to from our sample group? Sam Shields and Aquib Talib, put up almost the exact same rookie Max, Min, and number of greens as Green did but both had better cumulative years. On the other hand Jerraud Powers and Chevis Jackson had the same number of greens and a closer cumulative.
What about everyone's favorite small school player, Greenwood? Well Greenwood did not have any snaps his rookie year so his rookie year for this study was this year. Greenwood only played two games this year so that limits his ability to post multiple green games but he came out pretty good. His 2.9 high game against the Giants actually ties him for 10th with Slay and gives him a single green game. So Greenwood and Slay are in the same ball park though Greenwood ended with a much higher low (-0.6) and a higher cumulative score 2.3. For this purposes though I am going to compare them to other players together. There are only two other players who posted top 10 single game performances that were their only positive performances of the season. Those were Brandon Flowers and Bradley Fletcher.
At the risk of making this unreadably long I will offer some concluding thoughts. I think the section on Bentley encapsulates why I am personally low on him. I think he has shown improvement between years but every player does, and playing in the slot is the easiest way to get good usage and good scores and he really hasn't. Slay and Greenwood's big single game performances came at the end of the year and if Slay had not gotten injured and had ran off another two positive games his season would have looked a lot like Patrick Peterson's (who by the way owns the lowest of the low scores). So they are still up in the air but with a positive outlook. And I think Green has the most going for him at this point. The three components that are most relevant to future performances he compares well to some pretty good players and the one that is least relevant is the one that is closer to less talented ones. So what do you guys make out of this chart and one thousand word monstrosity?