American Football

Value of Things: Evaluating the Texans cornerbacks


NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Who should stay and who should go?

I was going to close out with the secondary all in one article, but there were 14 guys that played 100 or more snaps in the secondary this past season including Shaq Griffin who was cut before the end of the season. Like most of the other positions, most of these guys will be free agents. So, like with the other spots, we will look at the corners (there were six) and evaluate whether they should be back.

In order to do that we will look at their PFF coverage and run defense grades, total tackles, tackles for loss, passes defended, and interceptions. To make things easy, only Derek Stingley Jr. and Ka’Dar Hollman are under contract next year. Obviously, it might seem like we have a ton of cap room, but that can be deceiving when you have as many holes as the Houston Texans have on their roster.

Steven Nelson

Snaps: 1,192
PFF Pass Coverage: 73.4
PFF Run Defense: 61.6
Tackles: 63
TFL: 0
Passes Defended: 12
Interceptions: 4

Nelson is a lot like all of the other guys that Nick Caserio signed. He was there to provide a baseline of reasonable performance and he performed ably. No one would confuse Nelson with a shutdown corner, but he graded out decently well against the run and pass. He made some plays and had some plays made against him. He is the poster child for the value of things. He has value but he may price himself out of where he should be here. He wants to cash out and he deserves to get every dime he can get, but that may come elsewhere.

Derek Stingley

Snaps: 812
PFF Pass Coverage: 85.3
PFF Run Defense: 59.5
Tackles: 39
TFL: 1
Passes Defended: 15
Interceptions: 5

Good teams need good players to play great. Stingley did that when he returned from his early season hamstring injury. He went into another gear and became a legitimate shutdown corner. You could make a credible claim that he was the Texans defensive MVP in the second half of the season. When you can shut down the other team’s top receiver it opens up a lot of things for your defense and allows you to look for a credible complement on the other side and not a Pro Bowl caliber player.

Desmond King

Snaps: 400
PFF Pass Coverage: 80.7
PFF Run Defense: 80.4
Tackles: 47
TFL: 5
Passes Defended: 2
Interceptions: 0

King’s performance is a perfect example of how a smart coach can limit a player’s exposure to negative situations. King is not a traditional outside cover corner, but plays really well in the box. His support on running plays enabled the Texans to put up better than average numbers against the run despite not having a ton of above average run defenders. His ability to return kicks also makes him an intriguing depth guy. King and Thomas have similar skillsets, so it will be interesting to see how they handle that.

Tavierre Thomas

Snaps: 352
PFF Pass Coverage: 69.5
PFF Run Defense: 83.2
Tackles: 51
TFL: 2
Passes Defended: 1
Interceptions 0

Thomas and King performed the same role and you’d have to ask the coaches why they initially cut King in favor of Thomas. Their PFF scores are similar and their numbers are similar as well. You could almost put these two numbers together to get an idea of what one of them could do if they are completely healthy. I’d expect one of them to be back, but it remains to be seen which one it will be.

Grayland Arnold

Snaps: 143
PFF Pass Coverage: 77.0
PFF Run Defense: 71.4
Tackles: 18
TFL: 1
Passes Defended: 0
Interceptions: 0

In baseball there is a concept of replacement level performance. It prevents you from making stupid statements like missing out on a 100 RBI when your first baseman leaves. Someone is playing first base. Someone is getting these snaps. Arnold played fairly well in a limited role, but who knows what would happen with more exposure. If he will come back for near league minimum then he’d likely be back, but your fourth and fifth corner is usually not a top priority.

Ka’Dar Hollman

Snaps: 131
PFF Pass Coverage: 58.5
PFF Run Defense: 62.1
Tackles: 10
TFL: 0
Passes Defended: 0
Interceptions: 0

Hollman is under contract and given that his performance was rated as average means there is no reason not to bring him back. He might even be due for an expanded role depending on how the Texans choose to spend their free agent dollars. The second corner will likely be a priority, but beyond that they may not invest a ton in this position.

Overall Outlook

Steven Nelson provided a baseline of performance that will be difficult to replace. However, if you re-sign all of your guys then you are essentially the same team you were the season before. You have to cut corners and take chances somewhere. Corner might very well be that spot. You can also take a chance of drafting one early in the draft and hoping he can get up to speed immediately.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login