Though Hanson has been a serviceable slot-corner/nickel back during his career, the move still comes as somewhat of a surprise. The Raiders, in waiving Demarcus Van Dyke, have eschewed long-term potential for a modest (if that) short-term gain.
While we cannot draw any definitive conclusions on DVD’s abilities versus the run, it is apparent that Hanson is not up to par. On the seven runs in his zone, Hanson successfully stopped on 29%, a staggeringly low number. Against the pass, however, Hanson certainly proves his mettle. His 52% success rate against passes thrown his direction in 2011 leads the Raiders’ secondary–now that DVD is gone, that is.
Though his sample size is smaller, DVD’s superior ability is obvious. Despite receiving nine fewer targets, DVD had the same number of pass defenses and one more interception than Hanson. Further, his success rate against pass is an eye-popping 68%, leading Football Outsiders to name him one of the top-25 prospects in the NFL.
“Those numbers are among the league’s best, but come with the small sample size caveat,” writes Football Outsiders in their 2012 Almanac. “In the past, small sample size charting numbers have picked out some soon-to-breakout stars (Cortland Finnegan) but also some busts (Ronnie Prude, anyone?). Van Dyke has the athletic talent to be a starting corner if he can work on his technique and discipline.”
Pro-Football Focus, who runs a similar game charting service as Football Outsiders, too thinks the waiving of DVD was a bit short-sighted.
In all, the reasons for cutting DVD aren’t clear. Yes, he had a tough preseason, but so did Terrelle Pryor, Joseph Barksdale, Carson Palmer, et al. The upside of a letting DVD go is minimal. Hanson does bring a veteran, game-tested presence to the secondary, as well as a versatile skill set which will allow the Raiders a bit more flexibility. But he also brings declining physical tools.
Statistically speaking, Hanson had one of his worst seasons as a pro. Though this could be symptomatic of an Eagles organization that was in disarray last season, it could also suggest that the 31-year-old cornerback can no longer physically compete. I guess we’ll find out on Monday, when Hanson will square off against the speedy receiver corps of the San Diego Chargers.