Brandon Flowers thinks he is the best cornerback in football, but is he?


Brandon Flowers made some big news yesterday when he proclaimed himself the “best corner in football” on NFL Network. Do I have a problem with this? Absolutely not. Cornerback, like wide receiver, is one of those rare positions where confidence is an essential part of the game. If we consider the other top cornerbacks in the game (Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis), we see a trend of loud personalities. Even the traditionally quiet Peterson made a splash this offseason by participating in a Twitter war with Sherman regarding who was the better cornerback. The confidence shown by Flowers is more of an indicator of his motivation level than anything else.

With this being said, just how good is Brandon Flowers? Cornerbacking statistics provide some rather inconclusive information, which speaks to why there always seems to be a debate as to who is really the best. For instance, Advanced NFL Stats tracks win probability added (WPA) and expected points added (EPA). In 2013, Flowers finished 35th in WPA expecting to add a fraction of a win (0.85) and adding 21.0 points to his team throughout the season. Last season, in a year nearly all would agree Flowers had a down year compared to 2012, Flowers finished 30th in WPA (0.97) and was expected to add over 34 points to his team. Another big difference for Flowers is the two wins his team had in 2012 versus the 11 for the Chiefs in 2013. So what do these stats tell us? Well, it looks like next to nothing.

Additionally, if we look at Brandon flowers basic statistics (tackles, sacks, interceptions), it’s hard to discern where he is at in his career. Flowers has never had more than 69 tackles, but his lowerst total (48), came in arguably the best year of his career during 2012. The good news for Chargers fans? Flowers has 17 interceptions, four forced fumbles, and five recovered fumbles in his six year career. Defensive coordinator John Pagano is emphasizing turnovers this offseason, and Flowers should help in this category.

In my opinion, the simplest way to breakdown a cornerback is to look at his production when the ball is thrown his way. In 2013, here is a look at how Flowers matched up against the top corners in the league…

Player Targets Receptions Com % Yards TDs INTs QB Rat.
Brandon Flowers 96 64 66.7 864 4 1 103.9
Richard Sherman 57 29 50.9 348 1 8 36.2
Darrelle Revis 63 34 54 400 4 2 81.4
Patrick Peterson 90 49 54.4 688 7 3 91.3


While these stats are a little misleading for Peterson, who played far and away the most snaps in coverage of any of the cornerbacks listed, they are relevant. Even though Peterson gave up considerable yardage, he was asked to do a lot more for his team than most cornerbacks. Similarly, 2013 was Flowers first year in Kansas City defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s more disciplined system. Flowers was asked to do different things than he was previous under Romeo Crennel (part of the reason he was cut from the Chiefs). Let’s take a look at how Flowers stacked up in 2012…

Player Targets Receptions Com % Yards TDs INTs QB Rat.
Brandon Flowers 80 40 50 479 3 3 65.6
Richard Sherman 86 40 46.5 632 2 8 40.5
Darrelle Revis** 8 3 37.5 15 0 1 39.6
Patrick Peterson 95 49 51.6 671 6 7 64.8

**Revis injured most of 2012

Now when we look at these numbers, one could assume Flowers should at least be considered in the upper echelon of cornerbacks. His statistics fit with the league’s best when he’s playing in a system that works to his benefit. One could say these numbers are a sign of Flowers decline, but I think the Chargers physical coverage scheme should fit perfectly with what Flowers does. If San Diego can pressure the quarterback, Flowers superior press coverage skills should disrupt receiver timing and make the passing defense light years better than last season.

Flowers clearly didn’t have his best season in 2013, but now he has something to prove. San Diego has given him a chance to show the entire league (and his old team twice) just how good he can be. We will see if 2014 is a bounce-back year for Flowers.

Who do you think is the best cornerback in the game?

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