The Chargers were set to have the best secondary in the NFL before the ... injuries ... showed up once again. 2018 All-Pro Derwin James was lost before the season arrived and new addition Chris Harris Jr. last just a handful of games before going down for over a month with an injury.
Despite his lack of time on the field this year, Harris is still joined by teammate Casey Hayward on ESPN’s list of top cornerback duos in the NFL.
Author and NFL analyst Jeremy Fowler had this to say about the pair of playmakers:
“Pedigree puts this duo in the top 10, but both corners are 31 and have missed time due to injury (Harris is on currently on injured reserve).”
“Despite a compelling case as a top corner over the years, Hayward still gets knocked by evaluators as a zone-heavy corner. Emmanuel Sanders going for 122 against that zone in Week 6 didn’t help the cause. He’s dominated PFF rankings in the past, so seeing him with a 59.7 overall grade is unique. On the year, Hayward has allowed 22 receptions on 40 attempts as the nearest defender for 268 yards, per Next Gen Stats.”
According to an unnamed AFC executive, Hayward is still “a really smart, saavy player who’s been producing for a long time. The Chargers can win with him as the No. 1 guy.”
I still want to believe so, but the veteran hasn’t been his normally consistent self this season. He’s taken some bad lumps through their first six games, but an easy stretch of the schedule will hopefully allow him to return to form. That, and Harris’ return from IR could be a synergistic addition early next month.
Hayward’s stat line in 2020 currently includes 26 total tackles and four pass breakups. Harris recorded 15 tackles, a lone pass breakup, and a single tackle-for-loss before he went on IR.