Prior to the 2012 season, I projected cornerback Brandon Carr at 60 tackles and four interceptions—slightly higher numbers than the 53 tackles and three picks with which he ended the year.
Overall, Carr was good but not great in his first year in Dallas. While the interceptions are a fluky stat that could increase or even drop in 2013, Carr’s coverage numbers aren’t as volatile. He allowed 51 receptions on 87 targets (58.6 percent) for 644 yards (7.40 YPA).
One of my favorite stats to analyze cornerback play is yards per snap. Yards per snap measures the amount of receiving yards a cornerback gives up for each snap that he’s in coverage. It’s better than YPA as a predictive stat because it doesn’t penalize for poor coverage. If Carr has perfect coverage and doesn’t get targeted, his yards per snap is superior. He ranked 25th in the NFL in 2012 with 1.16 yards per snap allowed.
Carr was on the field for 1,043 snaps in 2012, and that number should remain pretty steady in 2013. A lot of Carr’s numbers could change quite a bit, however, since he’s going to be playing more zone coverage. Because of that, I think you’ll see Carr get targeted even more—say 90 times—and allow a higher completion percentage of around 63.3 percent. At that rate, he would give up 57 receptions.
Since the attempts thrown at Carr could be shorter than in 2012, however, Carr can still improve his efficiency. At 7.0 YPA, Carr would yield 630 yards on the year. If he plays just as many snaps in coverage as he did in 2012, he would allow 1.08 yards per snap. Such a number would probably rank Carr in the top 20 in the league this year.
In 2012, Carr recorded a tackle on 5.1 percent of his snaps. I think we’ll see that number increase a bit with Monte Kiffin in town. At 6.0 percent, Carr should post somewhere in the range of 63 tackles. It will really come down to how often he’s stationed near the line-of-scrimmage.
The number everyone wants to know is Carr’s interception total. That’s an extremely difficult number to predict—basically impossible—but I think Carr will have an easier time making plays if he’s in more zone coverage. Based solely on that fact, I’ll project Carr at five picks.
Final 2013 Projection: 57 receptions on 90 targets (63.3 percent) for 630 yards (7.0 YPA), 1.08 yards per snap, 63 tackles, five interceptions
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.