Despite facing criticism from fans, Pro Football Focus has a different take on Ross Cockrell. They’ve graded him the third best third-year cornerback in the NFL for yards per coverage snap, per this tweet the site sent out yesterday.
No cornerback from the 2014 draft class has allowed fewer yards per coverage snap than Lions CB Nevin Lawson.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 8, 2017
In his two years in Pittsburgh, Cockrell has allowed just 1.05 yard per coverage snap trailing only Detroit’s Nevin Lawson and Jacksonville’s Aaron Colvin. Cockrell ranks ahead of Malcolm Butler and Jason Verett by relative large margins.
Cockrell has two years of NFL action after playing just 11 snaps his rookie season with the Buffalo Bills. They dumped him at the end of camp in 2015 and the Steelers scooped him up a week later. He was thrown into the fire two weeks into his Steelers’ tenure and has been a starter ever since. Last year, he was the team’s #1 corner and best man-cover defender.
The Steelers will have him on the cheap this season after he signed his one year, RFA tender, worth $1.79 million. If Cam Sutton gets work in the slot as expected, Cockrell should comfortably enter the season as the starting LCB.
PFF certainly isn’t the end-all for the debate but it’s one stat to consider when framing the value he has to the team.