NFL Analysis


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2023 NFL Week 10 Injury Takeaways: Cornerback Injuries Are Hurting Teams More Than Ever

Dec 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox (29) and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) in action during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we looked at teams that have endured the most Total Points lost due to injury so far this season. We not only compared the total games missed by each team but also the value of the players they've played without.

This week, we will look at what position groups across the NFL have missed the most time. In order to get a good idea of what position groups have been healthier than others. We will compare the position’s snap percentage (how many total snaps are played by that position) with their total games missed percentage (how many of the total games missed come from that position).

Week 10 Injury Analysis

Positional Data

There are 22 players on the field for any given play. Some positions, like quarterback, almost always have one player on the field, so one divided by 22 gives the quarterback position around four percent of all the snaps in the league.

Similarly, all of the offensive line positions operate at around the same rate. Positions such as wide receiver and cornerback routinely have multiple players on the field per snap. These position groups that have more than one player on the field will have a higher percentage of snaps played.

We would expect the total games missed percentage to be close to their position group’s snap percentage. If a position group’s games missed percentage is off from their snap percentage, then the position as a whole is getting injured at a higher or lower rate than expected.

PositionSnap %Snap %
Wide Receiver12%11%
Interior Defensive Lineman10%6%
Tight End6%5%
Running Back5%10%
Right Guard5%2%
Left Tackle5%7%
Right Tackle5%4%
Left Guard4%4%

So far this season, the cornerback and running back positions are getting injured more than other position groups, relative to their snap percentage. On the other end of the spectrum, edge rushers, interior defensive linemen and right guards have had better luck in the injury department.

We would’ve imagined all offensive line positions would operate at the same injury rate, but left tackle has the highest games missed percentage among the five positions. 

We can look at what positions are getting injured more frequently than others and what positions have lost the most talent. We can look at Total Points lost by position.

While the quarterback position takes up a disproportionate amount of the offense, similar rules apply when comparing snap percentage and Total Points lost percentage.

PositionSnap %Total Points Lost %
Wide Receiver12%7%
Interior Defensive Lineman10%4%
Tight End6%2%
Running Back5%4%
Right Guard5%2%
Left Tackle5%8%
Right Tackle5%7%
Left Guard4%5%

Everyone knows how tough the running back position is and how hard it is to stay healthy, which is evident in the first table. In the offseason, we saw how certain teams value the position. Not many teams have gave running backs long-term contracts. They're more confident with replacements taking the snaps.

The table shows this season's results are in line with that valuation.

Cornerback Matters More

The biggest takeaway from these findings is how fragile and valuable the cornerback position is this season. The position plays the most snaps, and even beyond that, cornerbacks have suffered the most games, and Total Points missed over and above the position’s snap rate.

Jaycee Horn, Avonte Maddox, Tre’Davious White and Trevon Diggs headline the most valuable cornerbacks who have been out for the majority of this season. 

Maddox has been a huge loss

We want to dig a little deeper into how losing Maddox has been an under-the-radar loss for the Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary.

Maddox hasn’t played since tearing his pectoral muscle in Week 2, and he’s been on the field for only 80 defensive snaps.

But when looking at his on/off splits, opposing offenses gained -17 EPA/60 plays when he was on the field compared to -2 when he wasn't. That’s a 15-point swing, but the sample size is too small. We can look back to last season — when he played nine games — to see if the effects were similar.

Avonte MaddoxOn FieldOff Field
Opp EPA/Play-10-2
Comp Pct60%67%
TD Pct2.1%5.7%

Playing primarily in the slot, Maddox gets overshadowed by Darius Slay and James Bradberry, but his impact has been huge when he’s been on the field over the past two seasons. 

While the Eagles still look for answers on how to replace Maddox, every team should value the cornerback position highly. If the injury trends we are seeing continue, we might see teams value the depth at this position even more.

This article was authored by Alex Vigderman and Brett Barnes.