James Pierre, Robert Rochell, Nik Needham, Tre Jordan, Isaiah Oliver, Avonte Maddox … these are just a handful of the many cornerbacks with higher PFF grades than Trevon Diggs, who leads the NFL with seven interceptions this season. The Cowboys star has been an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses this year, recording a pick in each of Dallas’ first six games including a pick-six Sunday at New England. That was Diggs’ second touchdown of the year, giving him as many as his older brother, Bills receiver Stefon Diggs.
What Diggs has done is unheard of, yet he’s failed to impress the minds at ProFootballFocus, where he ranks a surprising 61st out of 118 qualifiers at cornerback. Diggs is presently +550 to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year, the third-highest odds on FanDuel Sportsbook behind only Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt. So why do the analysts at PFF feel he’s having a worse season than no-names like Elijah Molden and Javelin Guidry?
As you’d expect, a lot goes into PFF’s grades, which take into account a variety of different metrics including coverage, tackling and pressuring the quarterback. While Diggs has fared reasonably well in coverage (28th), he’s struggled elsewhere on the field, grading as the worst run-defender at his position by a fairly wide margin.
Though the playmaking 24-year-old has shown a nose for the football, the stats would indicate he’s far from a lockdown defender, allowing the second-most yards to opposing wide receivers this season (419). Diggs was, for much of Week 6, a liability, ranking 90th in coverage out of 109 cornerbacks, per PFF’s grades. Of course, this isn’t an exact science and though ProFootballFocus is a name that carries weight in the analytics community, suggesting there are 60 cornerbacks better than a player on pace for the most interceptions in NFL history is laughable bordering on irresponsible.
Diggs may not be as complete a player or as polished fundamentally as the Jalen Ramseys and Stephon Gilmores of the world, but right now, he’s outproducing all of them, and the 5-1 Cowboys wouldn’t be where they are without him. So, in essence, PFF’s grades tell some of the story but not all of it when it comes to Diggs, an emerging star in the Cowboys secondary and one of football’s biggest difference-makers through six weeks.