Hey Who Dey Jungle, Recently a great post by the Jungle's own raclark11986 addressed the question of, Who are the top players in our conference? Now, most articles aren't good enough to create spin-off articles, but like Cheers is to Frasier, like Law and Order is to Criminal Intent, and like CSI is to CSI New York, Miami, LA, Boston, Cleveland, Baghdad, & Minot ND, so was I inspired to continue the debate from Clarkies article. Simply put, when something gives you a good idea for an article, you have to take it. So, Recently I got into an argument with a few members of the Baltimore Beatdown who... disagreed... with me when I said about Leon Hall...
he’s clearly among the top 5 Corners in the league right now.
Now, I'm not sure what the etiquette is on quoting yourself in your own article, but a writer who I know and admire once said
when something gives you a good idea for an article, you have to take it.
With these sage words of wisdom... I press on.
First, there are a few guys in the league who are universally considered better corners at this point in their careers than Leon Hall, so lets get those guys out of the way. The first two are Darrelle Revis, & Nnamdi Asomugha. These guys have all the tools a good CB needs. They're physical, the cover like white on rice, and they are fluid out of their breaks... like a ninja. Nnamdi's numbers don't really reflect this status, but he is probably more often left alone in single coverage than any CB in the league. After that, there are two guys who have had long and distinguished careers who deserve mentioning, but are probably beginning the downside of their careers (if not already there). They are Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey. I know what you're thinking, "Yikes Dealio, there's only one spot left and so many good Corners to fill that spot!" Don't worry guys, I'm out to prove that Hall is number 5.
First, here is a list of guys that deserve mentioning for that 5th spot: Brandon Flowers, Jonathan Joseph, Cortland Finnegan, Domminic Rogers Cromartie, Asante Samuel, & Jabari Greer. As a disclaimer, all these guys are great CB's and potentially worthy of a top 5 rating for different reasons. Without a doubt, Hall belongs in this second group of guys, probably more so than the first group. But in my Homerish opinion, he's been the best of the bunch, and here's why.
Arguments for Hall being a top 5 corner:
Simply put, the numbers back it up. Here are the more obvious stats that any boob with a computer can find.
Statistical Evidence for Leon Hall being a top 5 corner
- INT - 6 - Rank 5
- Pass Deflections - 30 - Rank 3
- Tackles - 71 - Rank (of players mentioned above) 3
No other players above are in the top 5 statistically of any of these categories. Thats right. NOBODY! In fact, the only other player that competed statistically in all three categories was... Jonathan Joseph.
But of course thats all information thats already been visited.You want more you say? No problem. Pro Football Focus has Leon Hall as their third rated CB overall. The numbers last year for Hall were impressive, here are just a few.
- QB's who threw into Halls coverage averaged a Quarterback rating of 51.7. That makes him the fourth best corner, behind only Darrelle Revis, Dwight Lowry, and Will Allen (and in front of Woodson and Greer). Among CB's with 500 or more total snaps (Hall had 1000 snaps last year), Hall was second best behind on Darrelle Revis.
- The Percent of catches into Leon Hall's coverage last year? 49.5. Good for 9th best in the NFL. But among guys with 500 or more snaps, Hall was the 6th best
- In coverage, Pro Football Focus ranks Leon Hall as the 13th best run stopping corner & 4th best cover corner.
Rumors and Hearsay supporting Hall as a top 5 corner
- Hall is technically brilliant player.
- If you read reviews on Hall, he is often left in single coverage.
- Hall is our number #1 cover guy according to coaches. Not Jonathan Joseph
Arguments against Hall being a top 5 Corner.
Statistical Evidence that Leon Hall is not a top 5 CB
- ghostly wind... tumbleweed tumbleweed... more ghostly wind. Guy coughs quietly in corner.
Rumors and Hearsay supporting that Hall is not a top 5 Corner
- The Bengals had a weaker schedule last year playing the Lions, Chiefs, Raiders, & Browns. I think this is the one legit knock on Hall from last year. Many of the QB's he faced were not elite. But the Bengal faithfull will tell you that the vast majority of yards the good QB's we faced last year (Favre, Rogers, Rivers, Rothlesburger, Flacco, Schaub... etc.) threw the ball away from Hall and racked up their yards on underneath routes to TE's, slot guys, and RB's.
- Leon Hall is not an elite athlete. I've stated before that I think he is. Here is how he fared in his combine workouts in 2007. 40yrd - 4.39 - tied for 6th best, Vert - 37.5 - 4th best, & most importantly his agility was shown in Cone - 6.5 - 1st, Shuttle - 4.07 - 1st. Simply put, his numbers show that he is an elite athlete. If you want to nit pick and say there are a few guys who have a slight edge on Hall (i.e. JJ), go ahead, I won't argue with you, but the numbers show that he does have great athleticism.
- Bengals play in a system that pad his stats (some people have made this claim so I'm passing it on... I don't think this has any validity to it). Considering that the Bengals only got mediocre pressure on the QB last year (34 Sacks, 16th best in NFL), I just don't buy that our system in any way padded his stats. In fact, teams that had similar QB pressure numbers (Ravens and Giants), have used that as an example of why their CBs suffered last year (32 Sacks each, tied for 18th best).
- Leon Hall is a one year wonder and over time he'll prove that he doesn't have what it takes. First, Leon Hall has put up nearly identical numbers the past two years despite the fact that the 2008 Bengals got virtually no pressure on the QB. Hall has been in the league three years, and if you look at the stats, they compare favorably to guys like Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson, etc. Does he need more time to prove himself. Yes. Only time establishes these players as truly among the best. But this isn't an article about who is the best all time. This is an article about who is the best now. And, if you think about it, you can make the same argument for a guy like Darrelle Revis, who came into the league the same year as Hall.
Simply put, I've poured over the evidence, looked at all the files, and I haven't found anybody that has statistically proved that they are better than Leon Hall (other than Darrelle Revis). Other guys have earned their spot with long term performance, Charles Woodson & Champ Bailey, while others get in based on reputation alone, Nnamdi Asomugha (FYI, I do agree he is a top 5 corner). IMO Leon Hall has earned his Stripes as a top 5 CB in the league.