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OAYP: 2019 Sun Belt Cornerback Rankings

By Jim Johnson
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The new OAYP advanced metric ranks the Sun Belt's returning cornerbacks.

In case you missed it, I’ve already released the marginal OAYP rankings for all the qualifying Sun Belt offensive players and front seven defenders. Those, along with a more comprehensive explanation (in the QB rankings), can be found here:

QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | EDGE | DL | LB

Now we’re onto the cornerbacks. As we’ve done with all the other position groups, we’ll tier them out into ‘superstars’ (marginal OAYP >1.0), ‘second tier’ (marginal OAYP between 0.5-1.0), and potential breakout stars (players that didn’t get enough reps to qualify, but posted high OAYP scores on a smaller sample size).

So, this is by far the most bizarre group I’ve evaluated yet -- not just in the Sun Belt, but throughout the ACC and SEC rankings as well. OAYP fits most position groups nicely into something at least resembling a Bell Curve. Suffice it to say, this one doesn’t. Strangely enough, though, when you go player by player it actually makes sense. With a remarkable six guys meeting the ‘superstar’ threshold, only one hits the ‘second tier’ marker. That’s not even because there aren’t good cornerbacks outside of that elite group, either. The top is just so strong that it absolutely murders everyone else’s marginal scores. Somehow, even after departures of longtime standouts like App State’s Clifton Duck and Tae Hayes, there are still more than a handful of guys that opposing passers should avoid at all cost.

*marginal OAYP in parentheses*


-Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern (1.67)
-Monquavion Brinson, Georgia Southern (1.63)
-Jerry Jacobs, Arkansas State (1.6)
-Anthony Taylor, Texas State (1.5)
-Tyler Murray, Troy (1.36)
-Jarron Morris, Texas State (1.06)

Good luck trying to throw the ball against Georgia Southern or Texas State this year.

Regardless of position, there’s no better duo in the Sun Belt, and few in the entire country, than Kindle Vildor and Monquavion Brinson. The former returns as Pro Football Focus’ second highest graded cornerback in the nation after recording four interceptions, tops among conference returnees, a league leading 15 total passes defended, allowing 0.87 yards per coverage snap, a 56.9% catch rate, and a 52.5 passer rating on throws into his coverage, which was also good for second among returning SBC corners. The latter racked up 11 passes defended, forcing an incompletion on over 15% of the throws into his coverage, allowed an 81.9 passer rating, and proved himself as one of the best run defenders in the country, grading out at 90.4 against such plays, with a top tier 89.3 tackling grade, while leading Georgia Southern in solo stops. The loss of Joshua Moon at safety would hurt a lot of teams, but these guys don’t need much of a safety net. Vildor and Brinson are reasons 1A and 1B that the Eagles could play as bend-don’t-break as they did last year with so much success.

The only returning cornerback in the league that allowed a lower passer rating on throws into his coverage than Vildor did last year is Jerry Jacobs, with a 47.1 passer rating allowed. He also returns the second most passes defended, behind Vildor, and tied him for the lead in picks, among returnees. I don’t necessarily feel like OAYP underrated his partner Jeremy Smith. Like I said, the top is so strong that everyone else’s numbers are skewed. But, in any case, those two could break through and rival even the units in Statesboro and San Marcos.

Tyler Murray is uniquely positioned among this group, as he played primarily from the slot in 2018. That said, in a league that boasted solid nickelback play from a handful of athletes, none were better than Murray. The loss of multi-year standout Blace Brown to graduation, and breakout star Marcus Jones to transfer, leaves Troy with two solid but less experienced boundary corners in Terence Dunlap and Will Sunderland -- both of whom did at least score positively above the mean, per OAYP. Still, that puts quite a burden on Murray’s shoulders. Although, if anyone can handle it, this do-it-all virtuoso can after posting 5.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, five pass breakups, a forced fumble, and 8.5 run stuffs a year ago.

These defensive rankings have been littered with Texas State Bobcats throughout the top two tiers. If this group adapts well to Zac Spavital’s new philosophy, the talent exists for this to be one of the conference’s scariest defenses. And for all the experience in the linebacking corps, and the underrated play of the defensive line, the secondary is the biggest reason why that’s true. Anthony Taylor returns a top four passer rating allowed among returning Sun Belt cornerbacks, and was among the national leaders last season with 7.8 yards per reception allowed, while Jarron Morris allowed the lowest marginal efficiency of any of their secondary starters, and tallied the most passes defensed of any freshman in the conference. Plus, even though this duo isn’t as good as Georgia Southern’s, Texas State has three bonafide studs at cornerback to work with…

Second Tier

-Kordell Rodgers, Texas State (0.86)

Factor in Kordell Rodgers, and there’s a case to be made that Texas State is even stronger than Georgia Southern at the position, overall. I’m not saying I would make that case, but someone else could if they were compelled to do so. His 57.8 passer rating allowed last year is third among returning cornerbacks, and even better than Anthony Taylor’s, and he actually led the team in interceptions. Again, the success of this unit is contingent upon their comfortability under Zac Spavital, but man is this group gifted.

Potential Breakout Star

-Alvin Pacheco, Texas State (1.34)

No, this number doesn’t project him to be better than Morris or Rodgers, but Pacheco was quite good on a very small sample size. A two-time JUCO all-conference selection, he simply adds depth to a group that hardly needs it. The legitimate feasibility of his becoming a breakout star probably necessitates an injury to one of the Bobcats’ top three corners, which no one wants, but, needless to say, they would be just fine in the event that one of them does become unavailable.

Jawon McDowell and Shon Spralling from Troy are also both worth keeping an eye on.

Full Marginal OAYP Rankings for Qualifying Sun Belt Cornerbacks

1. Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern (1.67)
2. Monquavion Brinson, Georgia Southern (1.63)
3. Jerry Jacobs, Arkansas State (1.6)
4. Anthony Taylor, Texas State (1.5)
5. Tyler Murray, Troy (1.36)
6. Jarron Morris, Texas State (1.06)
7. Kordell Rodgers, Texas State (0.86)
8. Jeremy Smith, Arkansas State (0.23)
9. Terence Dunlap, Troy (0.09)
10. Jessie Liptrot, Georgia Southern (0.06)
11. Will Sunderland, Troy (0.02)
12. Logan Wescott, Arkansas State (-0.04)
13. Michael Jacquet, Louisiana (-0.14)
14. Jalen Thompson, South Alabama (-0.48)
15. Mallory Claybourne, Coastal Carolina (-0.48)
16. Corey Straughter, ULM -(0.68)
17. Eric Garror, Louisiana (-0.68)
18. Chandler Kryst, Coastal Carolina (-1.15)
19. Quavian White, Georgia State (-1.28)
20. Derick Bush, Coastal Carolina (-1.32)
21. Tyler Gore, Georgia State (-1.82)
22. Khai Anderson, Georgia State (-2.02)

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP