Mr. McCown also presents a chart of the top 10 cornerbacks in 2012 in success rate – which he defines as “the percentage of passes that don't manage at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down.” McClain is third in that grouping; Samuel is ninth.
To recap: The Falcons already had, according to advanced analytics, two of the best corners in the NFL, and now they’ve added two highly regarded rookies. When was the last time we could speak these words – “The Falcons’ cornerbacks are really good” – and be (a.) not kidding, and (b.) supported by empirical evidence?
Mr. McCown does drop a caveat. Nickel back statistics can mislead, given as they’re a product of less data. He writes:
McClain was a seventh-round pick who couldn't make it with Carolina or Jacksonville before Atlanta picked him up before last season. Given the small sample size, there's a reasonable possibility that McClain's 2012 season was fluky, and an even more likely possibility that his skills in the slot wouldn't necessarily translate in a starting role.
Still, the Falcons don’t need him to start. That’s why they grabbed Trufant and Alford, who were getting reps with the first-team defense in last month’s minicamp. And if your fourth-best CB is among the league leaders … well, you’re pretty darn deep at DB.
Oh, and don't forget the safeties. William Moore and Thomas DeCoud both made the Pro Bowl.
Now if the Falcons can just muster a pass rush. But that’s another story for another day.