Top 20 CFL Pass Defenders After Week 8

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While it provides a good indication, this chart isn’t the definitive answer to who are the best defensive backs. I have to make an educated guess at each play call, which becomes harder when it’s a zone look.

The below chart also doesn’t factor in pass breakups, inaccurate throws that count as a target, or have 100 per cent accurate responsibility on blown coverages. A few CFL defensive players have chatted with me about improving these charts, and I’ve gladly listened.

In the upcoming weeks, I’m experimenting with separating targets into two categories. The first is responsible targets which track defenders I feel are responsible for a player out of the backfield or in a player’s zone. Second would be vicinity targets which track defenders who are in the area of a throw and have or had a chance to make a play on the ball. I will be releasing these statistics for the Calgary Stampeders—Winnipeg Blue Bombers game Thursday.

Here are my trackings for the top 2019 CFL pass defenders after eight weeks of CFL action.

Observations of the Top 20 CFL Pass Defenders

  • Aaron Grymes needs some help in B.C. after surrendering just 65 yards through seven games at his boundary halfback spot. He’s the best defensive back in the CFL for my money.
  • Josh Johnson’s found a home in Edmonton. He’s been excellent, giving up 19 completions on 39 targets for only 145 yards in a league-best Eskimos’ secondary.
  • Richard Leonard’s completion percentage, currently sitting at 36 per cent, is outstanding
  • Second-year halfback Greg Reid is breaking out and is a big reason to why Montreal’s defence has elevated their play.
  • Tre Roberson has slipped up on the odd play, twice allowing defenders to get behind him in the end zone. He’s still balling out and is someone you should avoid in man coverage.
  • Loucheiz Purifoy and Ed Gainey have been great at Saskatchewan’s halfback spots. Their numbers would be a lot better if not for each giving up a long touchdown pass.
  • Jeff Hecht and Branden Dozier rarely play man-to-man, but it’s an attest to their superb seasons when come August they’ve each given up less than 20 yards.
  • Kevin Fogg’s quietly had a solid season with Toronto.
  • I really wanted to keep Delvin Breaux in the top 20, but Shaq Evans made it near-impossible after Week 7. I have Breaux giving up 277 yards after seven games.

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