Last week, I was wondering how CB Al Harris got selected to the Pro Bowl. He didn't have a single interception last season and he missed 4 games with a spleen injury. S Nick Collins, CB Charles Woodson, and CB Tramon Williams all created a number of turnovers last season and it seemed like Harris was not playing up to their level.
But Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders crunched the numbers and determined that Al Harris Returns:
"In 2007, we called Al Harris' Pro Bowl selection a "lifetime achievement award." He finished 74th in Success Rate, 73rd in Adjusted Yards per Pass (I'm listing here the adjusted numbers from Pro Football Prospectus 2008). Although he was injured for part of 2008, he clearly rebounded to his previous level of performance when he was healthy. His numbers would be even better without the fourth quarter of the relatively meaningless Week 17 game against Detroit, when he gave up a combined 82 yards on three complete passes to... yikes... John Standeford."
Al's 79% success rate (% of plays at a targeted defender that did not succeed) was the best among all cornerbacks in 2008. He clearly bounced back from a poor 2007 season, in addition to bouncing back from a serious spleen injury.
Although Aaron says it's sure hard to evaluate cornerbacks based on only a single season:
"Looking at this year's numbers in comparison with last year's numbers, one thing that stands out is the year-to-year inconsistency of many of these cornerback statistics. Al Harris is up, then down, then back up. Samari Rolle was the worst cornerback in the league by these stats two years ago. Fred Bennett goes from one of the best to one of the worst. The same thing happened to Lito Sheppard, who has awful stats in 2005, great stats in 2006, and then awful stats again in 2007 and 2008. It's reasonable to wonder just how meaningful these stats are when some players seem to oscillate wildly from one extreme to the other."
It may be hard to evaluate cornerbacks based on past performance, but looking back, 2008 was a great season for Al and he deserves a trip to Hawaii. Sorry for doubting you Al.