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What to Expect From Bears CB Kyler Gordon

Using statistics to project a range of outcomes for Kyler Gordon’s rookie season with the Chicago Bears.

Kyler Gordon Chicago Bears Rookie Cornerback
Photo: Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears selected Kyler Gordon with the 39th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. In this series of articles, I will go through statistics to set fair expectations for the Bears draft picks. Kicking it off with Kyler Gordon, my dataset includes every cornerback drafted in the top 100 picks over the last five years in addition to CBs drafted out of Washington.

University of Washington Cornerbacks

Prior to the 2014 season, Washington hired Chris Peterson as head coach. Coming with Peterson was a defensive backs coach named Jimmy Lake, who eventually became defensive coordinator and head coach. From 2014-2021, Jimmy Lake has seen seven of his cornerbacks drafted with top 100 picks, including Kyler Gordon and fellow 2022 draft pick Trent McDuffie.

Highly drafted cornerbacks out of the University of Washington since 2013
  • Tgt % = Target %, which is how often each player is targeted when in coverage.
  • FI/Tgt = Forced Incompletions per Target. This represents how often a player forces an incompletion when targeted in coverage.
  • Stops/Tgt = Coverage Stops per Target, which is how often a player makes a tackle in coverage for a stop on a per-target basis.
  • Succ % = Coverage Success Rate. This is the percentage of coverage snaps where the cornerback recorded a stop, prevented a completion, or avoided being targeted.

Most recently, Elijah Molden locked down the nickel role for the Titans in 2021. He put together a solid rookie season that he will be able to build on in 2022. Meanwhile, Byron Murphy was able to put a rough rookie season with the Cardinals behind him to become one of the better cornerbacks in the NFC West.

Kevin King is a name most Bears fans recognize. The ball-hawking cornerback struggled to find his footing in Green Bay. Next up is Sidney Jones, who only played 20 snaps as a rookie, but has managed to hang around the NFL. Finally, we reach the star of the list in Marcus Peters, who has racked up 31 interceptions since entering the league.

In general, rookie cornerbacks out of Washington have performed above average. Most notably in completion percentage, yards per catch, forcing incompletions, and finding interceptions.

The Average Rookie Cornerback

Top 15 Rookie CBs since 2017

Next, we are looking at the average rookie cornerback to be drafted within the top 100 picks. This data is based on coverage stats from each player’s rookie season over the past five drafts. Within the table, we see a familiar face, with Jaylon Johnson ranking as the 15th best rookie cornerback in the last five classes.

So why should you care about this info? Because we can use this to project what a good, average, or poor season from Kyler Gordon might look like.

Kyler Gordon, Rookie Sensation

We are going to start with the upside case. In this scenario, Kyler Gordon puts up one of the best rookie seasons by a cornerback since 2017.

Using the average stats of the top 10 rookie seasons since 2017, we project those numbers across 600 coverage snaps. In this scenario, Gordon is targeted 81 times on the season, allowing 47 completions for 606 yards and three touchdowns while recording two interceptions. Among those targets, he forces 11 incompletions along with 13 coverage stops on completions.

Interestingly, the yards per reception here is identical to the yards per reception of a “bad” season. The difference is that the receptions happen far more often in the bad season.

Kyler Gordon Continues the Washington Legacy

Say that Gordon hits all the averages of those who came before him at Washington. I placed this section here because most of the stats fall somewhere between average and top of the position.

Using the average stats of Washington cornerbacks in their rookie seasons, we project those numbers across 600 coverage snaps. In this scenario, Gordon is targeted a whooping 99 times on the season, allowing 59 completions for 703 yards and six touchdowns while recording three interceptions. Among those targets, he forces 13 incompletions along with 12 coverage stops on completions.

It seems like Washington cornerbacks come into the NFL very aggressive. While they tend to do well in coverage and excel at breaking on the football and making plays, that aggressive nature bights them a little more than average.

Kyler Gordon, Solid Rookie Starter

Now, let us consider what average looks like. In this scenario, Kyler Gordon performs at an average level for a rookie of his draft pedigree.

Using the average stats of rookie cornerbacks drafted in the top 100 picks (minimum 300 coverage snaps), we project those figures across 600 coverage snaps. In this scenario, Gordon is targeted 87 times, allowing 54 completions for 688 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Among those targets, he forces 10 incompletions along with 12 coverage stops on completions. The largest difference between top 10 and average is 6 targets, 7 completions, 82 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Not a large margin by any means.

Kyler Gordon, Future in Question

Finally, let’s see the downside case. In this scenario, Kyler Gordon plays poorly, even for a rookie.

Using the average stats of the bottom 10 rookie seasons since 2017 (minimum 300 coverage snaps), we project those numbers across 600 coverage snaps. In this scenario, Gordon is targeted 96 times on the season, allowing 63 completions for 810 yards and seven touchdowns while recording two interceptions. Among those targets, he forces eight incompletions along with 12 coverage stops on completions.

Summary

Range of possible outcomes for Kyler Gordon's rookie season
Projecting the averages to Kyler Gordon’s rookie season (assuming 600 coverage snaps)

In summary, there are a lot of ways the season can turn for a rookie cornerback. All it takes is a few games on a bum knee to catapult a full season’s worth of stats. We saw that exact thing happen with Jaylon Johnson in his rookie season with the Bears. I am interested to see how Kyler Gordon compares to the Washington cornerbacks who were drafted before him, and if he can bring the same ball-hawking style of play to the Bears.

Next time, we are on to Jaquan Brisker.

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I like spreadsheets and football. I aim to take an analytical approach to my football research while also realizing the physical nature of football and how that impacts the numbers. While my main focus is Chicago Bears, I also write about the NFL as a whole.

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