Avonte Maddox’s 59.4 overall grade in his rookie season, including playoffs, ranks 15th among 20 rookie cornerbacks. But the poor mark doesn’t tell the entire story of a year that should certainly give the Philadelphia Eagles reason for optimism.
Maddox was admittedly torched in the Eagles’ two playoff games, where he allowed 13 receptions for an abysmal 264 yards in coverage — more than he surrendered in 10 regular season games combined.
So while he admittedly fell short of expectations there, the fourth-round pick had some promising moments in the regular season. Maddox averaged 21.7 snaps per reception allowed, which was the best regular season rate among all cornerbacks in 2018 with 200-plus snaps and the best rate for a rookie cornerback with the same threshold since at least 2006. His 11.8 snaps per target was also the second-best among cornerbacks in 2018 and the best among rookie cornerbacks in a season since at least 2006.
His 391 coverage snaps ranked eighth among rookie cornerbacks, but he faced just 33 targets (15th) in the regular season. However, a big factor in his poor overall grade was the competition he matched up against when those targets came. To name a few: DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr. and Demaryius Thomas.
He faced eight combined targets against those receivers and didn’t give up a touchdown or a completion of more than 20 yards. It seems like a minor achievement, but a rookie cornerback being able to hold elite receivers relatively in check is nothing to scoff at.
Unfortunately for Maddox, the playoffs showcase the NFL’s best, and he was asked to replicate his success against Michael Thomas (91.9 overall grade) and Allen Robinson II (77.7 overall grade) — where he saw a whopping 21 targets.
Even so, his 59.9 passer rating allowed in the regular season when targeted was second-best among all cornerbacks — and entering the playoffs, he hadn’t allowed a touchdown in coverage since Week 4.
An underrated part of his regular season success was his knack for not being overly aggressive. Maddox wasn’t flagged once in his 10 games and only two of his surrendered completions went for more than 20 yards (none more than 30 yards).
In Week 15, Maddox played his best game on a career-high 76 snaps against the Los Angeles Rams. He allowed just one reception on six targets, hauling in an interception and allowing a 0.0 passer rating when targeted along the way. The 90.5 grade he received that week was the third-highest among cornerbacks.
Maddox was far from perfect in 2018 – he graded negatively on more plays than he did positively – but what he was able to showcase in spurts in an Eagles secondary that was ravaged by injuries should spur confidence in what he can achieve in 2019.