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Decoding CB Jerraud Powers' PFF Grade

Ravens fans are trying to figure out if Powers is a steal or a reach. This should help that decision.

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Are the grades on CB Jerraud Powers deceiving? Or spot on?
Are the grades on CB Jerraud Powers deceiving? Or spot on?

The main question that the discerning Ravens fan asks whenever any free agent is brought into the mix is, "Is he good?" It would be easy to go with the media flow, and just assume that whatever the consensus is, must be the truth.

I was asking this question when the Ravens recently signed CB Jerraud Powers. A 13-game starter from Arizona's powerful defense sounds pretty solid.

And then I looked at his Pro Football Focus grade.

Source: Pro Football Focus

Pro Football Focus is an independently grown service where the associates watch every single play of all particular players in a particular game. They then grade the players based on a relatively flat, unbiased grading scale. It resembles pass-fail of unimportant college courses, because either a player did their job, or not. Either they achieved the clear goal for the play, or they did not. After many repetitions of this standard and much internal growth, the NFL took notice of this startup and many teams began using their services, too. Because of this rather All-American history, I see this service as strongly viable. If the pros think it is, it must be--they know much more about football than me.

So, when I saw that Powers graded out at a concerningly-low 79th in the league, I was initially thrown.

There are 32 teams that have 2 starting corners per, and 8 spot lower than 64th is concerning. Typically, the top two corners get more snaps and are better at the position than the third corners. It is possible for nickel corners to rise in this list and take spots from starters. Especially if a starter is targeted often. Remember, though, the grading system does not overly penalize getting thrown at and even giving up a reception. The question is, was the role that the defense required on that play, carried out? Lower scores mean that there are a lot of blown assignments.

This is why context is always good to include.

Powers was opposite of an elite corner, Patrick Peterson.

Special Thanks for Pro Football Focus for this metric.

Powers had more targets than Peterson. You might say, 14 targets more is not that many. Before you do, consider that Peterson had about 150 more snaps--Powers missed three games. The best metric is that Cover Snaps per Target column. Peterson could go 9 and a half snaps per target; Powers saw a target much more frequently at just under 6 snaps per. A typical drive in the NFL is 5.85 snaps. Powers averaged getting targeted every single drive.

With that high amount of targets will come some offensive success. Powers did seem to give up lots of Yards Per Catch, but he did not give up as many Yards After Catch.

This all looks rather sobering until we stop comparing him with two all pro and compare him with his current teammates.

Source:Pro Football Focus

Now, it is clear that they all need to improve and the scheme needs to be readily understood--not confusing--but Powers actually graded out better than the Ravens' #1 corner, J. Smith, in the area of coverage. His run defense was definitely not a strong suit, which affects his overall grade--and that will have to improve as run defense is a Ravens mainstay. Yet a nickel corner is not primarily aimed at stopping the run, whereas a starting corner is. If Powers stays as a nickel--if he beats out Arrington, the very talented Will Davis, and the promising rookie Tavon Young--he very well could be a coverage upgrade at that position.

Like Left Guard, and Wide Receiver, and Tight End, and Running Back, there will be a strong competition this summer for the Ravens at nickel corner. Possibly even at Corner 2, if Wright slips up at all and someone excels in training camp.

Powers is an experienced corner, and he also might have come with a recommend from former Ravens coaches at his original team, the Indianapolis Colts. It is possible that he could pan out to be what Arrington was hoped for last season--a savvy advantage at the third corner spot.

In concluding, I will say that I believe Will Davis will definitely have something to say about this.