When the term “elite” is applied to the cornerback position, many minds immediately jump to Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis or the younger guys that have made a big defensive impact, like Patrick Peterson or Joe Haden.
But is Vontae Davis really an elite cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts? He may not be yet, but he certainly can be.
Davis has always been a corner that liked to take on the opposing team’s best wide receiver. Last season, he stared down the likes of Andre Johnson, Demaryius Thomas and Dwayne Bowe, showing incredible efficiency. Davis allowed just 50.6 of passes thrown at him to hit the mark, good for fifth in the NFL. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranks Vontae Davis third among all cornerbacks last season, including a first place ranking in pass coverage.
Those are some great stats for a cornerback, but he also boasts many flaws in his game.
One could look no further than the “1” in his interceptions column to see that Davis does not take the opportunity to make turnovers when he defenses passes. Despite very good pass coverage abilities with top-tier ball-hawking skill, he doesn’t possess the hands to bring in his passes. If his pass breakups don’t mean anything, he can’t elevate his game to a level comparable with Revis or Sherman. He does have the ability to break up passes really well, the problem is translating that into game-changing plays.
He also has the tendency to let in touchdowns. Davis allowed eight touchdowns on balls thrown his direction during the 2013 season; that’s good for third worst in the NFL, behind Buster Skrine and Chris Cook, who allowed nine touchdowns a piece. This could also be a contributing factor to the incredibly efficient 98.2 QBR for quarterbacks who throw into Vontae’s coverage (7th highest among starting CBs). Davis can’t snag the interceptions and fails to protect against touchdowns, making quarterbacks who throw at him look good.
Vontae has incredible coverage skills. What he can do in mid and deep-range coverage is astounding. One look at how he expertly carved up the Broncos offense in Week 7 shows exactly what Davis can do in pressure situations, but he has a long way to go before he can be mentioned in the same breath as the greats.
Keep going Vontae, you’re getting there.