• Seahawks' Tyler Lockett posts top open-target rate: Lockett was open on 67.5% of his targets in 2022.
• Chargers' Michael Davis shut down his opposition: He allowed an open target on a league-low 26.2% of passes into his coverage.
• Rookies Tariq Woolen, Sauce Gardner land in top 15: Both allowed open targets at low rates in 2022.
Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins
A big staple of a receiver’s success is their ability to beat opposing coverage and get open. Just as important on the defensive side of the ball is a cornerback’s ability to prevent their man from running free.
Let's look at the 25 best receivers at getting open and the 25 best cornerbacks at locking them down from the 2022 season. For a receiver to qualify, they need to have been targeted 75 times. A cornerback needs to have faced 50 targets in coverage.
Top 25 Wide Receivers by Open-Target % | 2022
|1. Tyler Lockett||Seahawks||67.5%|
|2. Parris Campbell||Colts||62.4%|
|3. Richie James Jr.||Giants||61%|
|4. Cooper Kupp||Rams||60%|
|5. Zay Jones||Jaguars||59.9%|
|6. Jerry Jeudy||Broncos||59%|
|7. Brandon Aiyuk||49ers||58.7%|
|8. Keenan Allen||Chargers||58.5%|
|9. DeVonta Smith||Eagles||58.4%|
|10. Chris Godwin||Buccaneers||58%|
|11. JuJu Smith-Schuster||Chiefs||57.8%|
|12. Deebo Samuel||49ers||56.6%|
|13. Tyreek Hill||Dolphins||56.4%|
|14. Curtis Samuel||Commanders||56.3%|
|15. Josh Palmer||Chargers||56.3%|
|16. Russell Gage||Buccaneers||55.1%|
|17. Christian Kirk||Jaguars||54.7%|
|18. CeeDee Lamb||Cowboys||53.9%|
|19. Demarcus Robinson||Ravens||53.8%|
|20. Jaylen Waddle||Dolphins||52.9%|
|21. Stefon Diggs||Bills||52.4%|
|22. Brandin Cooks||Texans||52.3%|
|23. K.J. Osborn||Vikings||52.3%|
|24. Marquez Valdes-Scantling||Chiefs||51.7%|
|25. Marquise Brown||Cardinals||51.5%|
Brock Purdy’s ascension from Mr. Irrelevant to being a key contributor during the 49ers’ NFC Championship pursuit was made all the easier by having two of the best receivers at getting open in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. It’s unclear who will be leading the 49ers’ offense in 2023, as Purdy and former third-overall pick Trey Lance will both be vying for the starting quarterback job. But whoever is under center will have as easy a time as any distributing the football with guys like these running routes for them.
A big acquisition that has mostly gone under the radar this offseason is the Cowboys’ trade for Brandin Cooks. Outside of CeeDee Lamb, Dallas receivers struggled to get open last season, as Michael Gallup’s 37.5% open-target rate was the fifth lowest among qualifying receivers. Adding Cooks into the mix should open things up for a Cowboys offense that was just middle-of-the-pack in terms of passing yardage last season.
With the loss of JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency, it’s going to be a competitive receiving room in Kansas City. One free agent signing that could surprise is Richie James Jr., who quietly finished third in open-target rate while catching 68 passes for 651 yards and 4 touchdowns for the Giants last season. The former seventh-rounder out of Middle Tennessee has seen his playing time steadily rise over the past few years and could be a breakout candidate if given the opportunity with Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball.
Top Cornerbacks by Open-Target % | 2022
|1. Michael Davis||Chargers||26.2%|
|2. Alontae Taylor||Saints||27.5%|
|3. James Bradberry||Eagles||27.9%|
|4. Patrick Surtain II||Broncos||28.8%|
|5. Joshua Williams||Chiefs||29.6%|
|6. Martin Emerson||Browns||30%|
|7. Cam Taylor-Britt||Bengals||30.4%|
|8. Jamel Dean||Buccaneers||31%|
|9. Tariq Woolen||Seahawks||31.7%|
|10. D.J. Reed Jr.||Jets||32.2%|
|11. Carlton Davis||Buccaneers||33.7%|
|12. Sauce Gardner||Jets||33.8%|
|13. Kristian Fulton||Titans||33.9%|
|14. Fabian Moreau||Giants||34.9%|
|15. Kendall Fuller||Commanders||35.1%|
|16. Dane Jackson||Bills||35.8%|
|17. Asante Samuel Jr.||Chargers||36.1%|
|18. Brandon Stephens||Ravens||36.7%|
|19. Rock Ya-Sin||Raiders||36.7%|
|20. Darius Slay||Eagles||37.6%|
|21. Jaylon Johnson||Bears||38%|
|22. A.J. Terrell||Falcons||38.6%|
|23. Damarri Mathis||Broncos||38.8%|
|24. Eli Apple||Bengals||39%|
|25. Benjamin St-Juste||Commanders||39.1%|
It's worth noting that the sample size of 50 targets disqualified Cincinnati’s Chidobe Awuzie, whose 20.6% open-target rate against on 48 targets would have comfortably topped this list had he not missed the second half of the season with a torn ACL. However, his rookie teammate Cam Taylor-Britt picked up a lot of the slack in his absence. Taylor-Britt played particularly well in the postseason, putting up a very impressive 81.9 coverage grade and a 35.7% open-target rate on 135 snaps during the Bengals’ run to an AFC Championship appearance.
James Bradberry had the largest sample size among players on this list, as his 759 coverage snaps (playoffs included) were 81 more than the next closest corner (Tariq Woolen). Bradberry also faced the second-most targets, 104, trailing only Asante Samuel Jr. That makes Bradberry finishing third in open-target rate against all the more impressive.
Speaking of Tariq Woolen, among players on this list, nobody played more press coverage than his 333 such snaps. Dane Jackson of the Bills was next closest with 328 press snaps, and after him, there is a big drop until third-place Joshua Williams’ 230 press snaps. Having the ninth-lowest open-target rate against while lining up in so much press coverage makes the UTSA fifth-rounder’s rookie year all the more special. With the addition of fifth overall pick Devon Witherspoon in 2023, the Seahawks may be forming a new Legion of Boom in their secondary.