In the grand scheme of things stats don’t matter, wins do. We would all be lying if we said we didn’t care about stats however. In this series we will be looking at the statistical leaders of each division in the NFL. For this article we’ll take a look at passes defended leaders for each division. Passes defended leaders in the NFL are different from interception leaders in the sense that they are always looking to make a play on the ball by batting it away or deflecting it rather than by trying to catch it. This stat is usually a good indicator of a very good coverage man. Without further a do, let’s get into it.
AFC North: CB Denzel Ward- Cleveland Browns
One of the best young defenders in the league is former Ohio State Buckeye Denzel Ward. The Buckeyes are known for producing top tier cover men such as Marshon Lattimore, Jeffery Okudah, and of course Denzel Ward. Ward isn’t targeted often due to his sticky man coverage abilities but when he is, he always seems to make a play on the ball.
Denzel Ward Passes Defended Projection: 14 Passes Defended
AFC South: CB Kenny Moore II- Indianapolis Colts
I would argue that Kenny Moore II is the best slot cornerback in the NFL. He is an exceptional blitzer, a consistent tackler, and of course an elite cover man. Moore II may be small but he makes plays as if he was a foot taller than he is. Alike Ward, he isn’t targeted much but when he is, he capitalizes.
Kenny Moore II Passes Defended Projection: 13 Passes Defended
AFC East: CB Tre’Davious White- Buffalo Bills
After a stunning rookie season, Tre’Davious White has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He has locked up the best receivers in the league at one point or another and is known for his elite ball tracking skills and for his elite footwork in man coverage. I expect White to come close to his personal passes defended career high as the Bills are looking to get to the Super Bowl and will need premium play at their premium position of outside corner.
Tre’Davious White Passes Defended Projection: 16 Passes Defended
AFC West: CB Patrick Surtain II- Denver Broncos
Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion due to the fact that there are some pretty dang talented veterans in the West that could easily win the passes defended crown but I think Surtain II could absolutely out play them. Patrick is one of the most talented and complete cornerbacks we have seen come out of the NFL Draft in recent memory and I think he could have a Marshon Lattimore type of rookie year.
Patrick Surtain II Passes Defended Projection: 15 Passes Defended
NFC North: CB Jaylon Johnson- Chicago Bears
One of my favorite rookies to watch last season was Jaylon Johnson. He played CB2 for the Bears last year and absolutely dominated against established veterans that on paper, should have had a field day with him. Johnson isn’t a ball hawk per say but he always knows where the ball is and always seems to get a hand on it. I expect a huge leap from Johnson this year as he slides into the CB1 job in Chicago.
Jaylon Johnson Passes Defended Projection: 14 Passes Defended
NFC South: CB Carlton Davis- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I would put the aforementioned Marshon Lattimore here but he is supposed to receive a suspension at some point this season so instead I will put the impressive young Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis. The former Auburn Tiger took a massive leap last year and was a huge reason why the Bucs won a Super Bowl. Expectations are super high for Davis this year and I think he will finish in the general ball park of those expectations.
Carlton Davis Passes Defended Projection: 15 Passes Defended
NFC East: FS Logan Ryan- New York Giants
The only non-cornerback on this list is Giants deep man Logan Ryan. Logan is an ex-cornerback who plays the safety position with the same ball tracking prowess he did at corner. Ryan is an extremely smart veteran defensive back who is pretty dang good at predicting where the ball is going to go and I don’t see this year being an exception.
Logan Ryan Passes Defended Projection: 13 Passes Defended
NFC West: CB Jalen Ramsey- Los Angeles Rams
Jalen Ramsey is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. He is an incredible cover man who will lock up the opposing team’s best receiver regardless of the scheme. One thing Ramsey excels at is making plays while the ball is in the air. If a quarterback is daring enough to target Ramsey, they are usually dismayed when they see him make a play on the ball.
Jalen Ramsey Passes Defended Projection: 17 Passes Defended