Dallas Cowboys film review: A case study of Trevon Diggs

Trevon Diggs has been a point of contention for Dallas Cowboys fans and football fans alike. “He’s overrated!” or “He’s top 5!” Nobody can seem to decide where to put him. On one hand you can’t exactly argue with the results. Seven interceptions in only eight games is a truly spectacular mark for any cornerback to achieve and it should be recognized accordingly.

But to that same token, many of the receivers he’s manned up on for the day have done fantastically. Kadarius Toney had a career game while Diggs was in coverage.

For this first case study we will be looking at the numbers and film. Film will play a role but using the eye test is especially hard to evaluate Diggs. Because on one play you’re over the moon about his performance and the very next you find yourself yelling at the T.V. in pure helpless agony as Tim Patrick scores a relatively easy TD.

Dallas Cowboys’ Trevon Diggs is volatile but he has the pieces to become elite

According to Pro Football Focus Trevon Diggs is the 103rd graded CB this season out of 117 that have been graded (51.9). And in coverage he is 72nd (59.8). For anyone unfamiliar with how PFF grading works each play the player participates in gets a grade between -2 and 2 and at the end of the game they’ll get a grade out of 100. For context the highest graded CB over the season is Jalen Ramsey (83.9), so a grade of anything above a 90 is playing consistently at a exceptionally elite level. Regardless, any grade between 50-60 is pretty mediocre.

Let’s first look at what he does right:

Both of these interceptions are fantastic reads on the ball. Let’s focus on the one versus Jalen Hurts. The Dallas Cowboys defense comes out in a 4-3 with what looks like a man coverage with one high safety.

That mean that it’s just Diggs 1 on 1 against former college teammate Devonta Smith. Smith runs about a 5-6 yard out route and seemed to pretty clearly been Jalen Hurts’ first read for this play. Diggs jumps it beautifully. Smith looked open for a brief second and that’s because Trevon Diggs was playing off the line of scrimmage. A quick-hitting out route shouldn’t have been too much of an issue and the way the defense was lined up I’m sure Hurts thought he had the perfect play call.

Hurts drops back and throws, Smith stumbles, falls, and it’s pick six one of two on the season for Trevon Diggs. Whether or not Smith stumbles here doesn’t really affect the result of the play, Diggs was housing that one no matter what.

The reason Trevon Diggs got that interception is the same reason he’s getting burnt.

He is far too aggressive. You can see in his Chargers clip he puts his body on the line to make the play. That’s what you love to see. What you don’t love to see is an over pursuit of the ball trying to be a hero.

Trevon Diggs (7) gets burnt on what looks to be a simple go route and instead of playing Bourne and tackling him, Diggs gets aggressive and plays the ball, and a touchdown ensues. We see this often in Diggs. He bites to often on simple move made by the receiver. This is why he’s leading the league in receiving yards allowed (458). He’s also given up 8.5 Receiving Yards Per Time Targeted.

QB’s look to throw his way. That’s why Kadarius Toney got a career-high 13 targets and 10 receptions against Diggs. Toney hasn’t even sniffed that number since facing the Cowboys with his highest reception total being four. Or DJ Moore dropping a cool 8/113/2 against the Cowboys. Friendly reminder that Sam Darnold is the Panthers QB and got benched for P.J Walker.

The numbers help Diggs’ case though as much as they can hurt him

Here are some other key stats that Diggs leads all cornerbacks in through week 9. Non-Offensive TDs (2), Interceptions (7), Interception Return Yards (142), Passes Defended (12) and Interceptions Returned For Touchdowns (2). These are stats we can’t ignore as they valuable and key indicators of the value of any member of the secondary. When a player leads in these categories they are the undisputed best of the best. Diggs seems to be the one exception to this rule.

For some time now fans have argued that simply evaluating a players talent off of interceptions will not truly sum up their value and that argument came to the forefront when Xavien Howard took home Defensive Player of the Year honors over T.J Watt.

I can’t help but agree with the majority. Interceptions are a valuable stat but they shouldn’t be the end all-be all when evaluating talent. But Diggs has been solid in other areas as well. Only a 54.9 Passer Rating when targeted, though some of that definitely has to do with the abundance of INTs, and only 29 completions on 54 targets for a completion percentage of 53.7%. For reference, PFF’s top rated CB Jalen Ramsey currently has a 61.1% on the same amount of targets.

So, it’s a case study and we need to solve this case. Both sides provide valid arguments if you pull the correct stats and film. I would say based off my findings, that he is certainly not a top 10 CB. You simply can’t be with those receiving yards allowed and how often he’s targeted.

But I also say that he is top 25 at the maximum. His interception and passer rating numbers simply can’t be ignored to put him any lower. Diggs is a threat to make a play on the ball every time he is thrown to but he needs to learn to contain that aggressiveness he has and play more conservative or he’s going to continue to allow the big play. Trevon Diggs can and will develop into a star cornerback if he’s not one already.

We must remember, this is his second year in the league. Few superstar cornerbacks are stars after 1-2 years in the league. It takes time to adjust to NFL speeds and the QBs placing ball with such precision. It took about four years for Stephon Gilmore to reach his max potential. The fact we’re getting this production out of Diggs now, suggests great things to come.

We must be patient. Let the national media say what they want. At the end of the day, Diggs has done things we haven’t seen in cornerbacks since Rod Woodson.