For the second consecutive offseason, the Eagles need to address the right cornerback position.
I've argued (and have not been alone) that this is absolutely their No. 1 need - ahead of right guard, ahead of defensive line, ahead of linebacker, and whatever other positions you want to throw in there.
The reason why is simple: putting a quality player opposite Asante Samuel will help every other player on defense.
But that's not really new information. And while we know Samuel had probably the best season of his career last year, Aaron Schatz over at Football Outsiders recently put into context just how well he performed in 2010.
Schatz wrote about how the league's cornerbacks measured up in three different categories: Success Rate, Yards Per Pass and YAC allowed. Success Rate is defined as "the percentage of passes that don't manage to get at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down."
The rankings initially looked only at cornerbacks that were targeted at least 40 times. Samuel played in 11 games last season, missing four due to injury and one in Week 17 when most of the Eagles' starters sat. Overall, Football Outsiders had him charted for 36 targets, but they included Samuel at the end of the post anyway.
Here's how Samuel's numbers looked in the categories mentioned above:
Samuel ranked first in the league in yards per pass and success rate. Among cornerbacks that were targeted at least 40 times, the Jets' Darrelle Revis was first in success rate at 70 percent (8 percentage points behind Samuel).
The Vikings' Antoine Winfield allowed 4.2 yards per pass, which was first among cornerbacks that had at least 40 targets. Again, Samuel was better than Winfield by a full yard at 3.2. And Samuel's 1.9 YAC was third.
The other aspect of Samuel's play that is not taken into account with the Football Outsiders rankings is interceptions. Despite only being targeted 36 times, Samuel ranked tied for second in the league with seven picks. The only other cornerback that ranked in the top 10 in Success Rate and the top 30 in interceptions was Green Bay's Tramon Williams, who was fourth in success rate (66 percent) and tied for fifth with six interceptions.
A couple other non-Samuel notes. One concerns the Eagles' nickel corner, Joselio Hanson, who had an outstanding season, according to the numbers. Here's how he rated:
Hanson ranked second among cornerbacks with at least 40 targets in yards per pass, eighth in success rate and first in YAC allowed. You could look at the numbers in one of two ways. One: Why on earth did Hanson not get more of a shot to start at right cornerback over Dimitri Patterson? Or two: It's clear why the coaching staff wanted to keep him in his role as the nickel corner, covering the slot, given how well he was performing.
The one name that is mentioned every time the Eagles' cornerback situation takes places is Nnamdi Asomugha. Here's how Football Outsiders charted his numbers last season:
What's incredible here is that Asomugha played in three more games than Samuel and was still targeted five fewer times. Towards the end of the season, it really seemed like opposing quarterbacks were staying away from Samuel. As the numbers show, that was true of Asomugha pretty much all season.
Last offseason, the Eagles chose to focus on their defensive line as a way to mask issues in the secondary. This offseason, the opposite approach could be taken with the addition of one cornerback - whether it's Asomugha, a draft prospect or someone else.
Download our NEW iPhone/Android app for even more Birds coverage, including app-exclusive videos and analysis. Get it here.