Gut Reaction: Broncos sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Happy Thursday, friends.  I was already in bed when news broke of the Broncos’ signing of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, so I wasn’t quite as on-the-spot as we’ve been the last couple days.  Hopefully, the novelty having worn off overnight doesn’t make this stale.

Rodgers-Cromartie is a tall (6-2), long, and fast (4.33 at the 2008 Combine) CB who is at his best (by far) in press man-to-man coverage.  He’s very good at using the sideline as an extra defender, and he’s difficult to beat over the top.  There really aren’t very many CBs in the NFL who have a better package of physical attributes and inherent talents.

The issues for DRC start when you ask him to play very much zone.  He tends to get a little bit lost, and his awareness of route combinations isn’t the greatest.  He’s also not the greatest (or most enthusiastic) tackler in the world. 

The Eagles didn’t really play to DRC’s strengths the last couple years, and both he and Nnamdi Asomugha struggled to always do the things they were asked.  To me, you don’t go sign two press-man guys and ask them to play a bunch of zone, but somebody there thought that was a good idea.

Looking at PFF’s compilations, there are two particularly troubling things about DRC’s 2012 season.  One is that he was called for 11 penalties, with six being accepted.  In 2011, he was called for zero, so what the hell?  Then you see it was eight (with seven accepted) in 2010.  Huh?  Then it swings back the other way to only being one in 2009 (not accepted).  That’s pretty inconsistent, but at least he’s been better in the odd-numbered years, right?

The other thing that’s ugly is that he had 11 missed tackles last year, and unfortunately, he’s more consistent on this score; his average has been 9 of them per season in his five-year career.

Putting those issues aside, though, I think that DRC’s ability to deny receivers the ball in man coverage portends to be a positive in 2013.  Remember, more often than not, he’ll be covering the opposition’s second-best WR, and for most of his career, he’s been going against #1s.  (Yes, even in Philadelphia – Asomugha is most comfortable as a RCB, so they mostly let him stay there, particularly once he proved to be useless against slot guys.  Typically, the LCB gets the better WRs.)

I love me some short-term prove-it contracts, and I think the Broncos will benefit from this one.  DRC found a soft market for CBs, and he has to know that his underwhelming film the last few seasons didn't help.  If he's smart, he knows that the Broncos' scheme and the surrounding talent will make him look terrific if he does his part.  The Broncos also know this, and get to benefit from a money-motivated guy in his walk year.  (Of course, that was the theory with Tracy Porter in 2012 too.)  If nothing else, it continues to position them to be able to draft from a position of strength, and take advantage of the foolish and desperate, since they have no real glaring roster needs at this point.

1.  I’m not in the arguing business, I’m in the saying what I think business.
2.  I get my information from my eyes.

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