Dolphins cornerback Kader Kohou was sensational in his first season in Miami. The undrafted acorn from Texas AM - Commerce started 13 games in 2022 (appeared in 15), and with Xavien Howard playing on two messed-up groins, the argument could be made that he was the Dolphins' best cornerback last season. A recent study by NFL's Next-Gen stats agrees.
Last week, NFL.com posted an article on the top-10 coverage corners of the 2022 season, and you guessed it, Kader Kohou made the list. But he wasn't just top-10 in the league. He was top-3!
Here's a blurb from the article, which can be found here, on Dolphins cornerback Kader Kohou.
- Passer rating allowed: 78.7
- Catch rate allowed below expectation: -6.4%
- Tight-window percentage: 27.5%
- Target rate: 21.9%
- Average separation: 2.9 yards
- TARGETED EXPECTED POINTS ADDED: -25
Kohou’s story is something out of a Hollywood script. The Texas A&M-Commerce standout made the leap from NCAA Division II to the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2022 and worked his way onto the final 53-man roster, where he quickly enjoyed a spike in playing time in the regular season.
Whatever Miami saw in Kohou was clearly prescient. The unlikely contributor quickly blossomed into a very reliable and productive slot corner for the Dolphins in his first season, finishing with the fourth-lowest targeted EPA (-10.1) among all slot corners when playing zone coverage. In all coverage scenarios, Kohou was remarkably effective, staying in the hip pocket of intended targets often enough to post a tight-window percentage near 28. He ends up so high on this list because of his overall targeted EPA (-25), which was the third-best mark of any defender in the league despite his accompanying ballhawk rate of just 9.8 percent.
What can we expect from Kader Kohou in year two under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio?
Last season, according to Pro Football Focus, Kohou played 482 snaps in the slot and 304 on the boundary under defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. This gives Vic Fangio all sorts of options with his secondary, which has two premier corners in Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey. Both Howard and Ramsey have played the majority of their career on the outside. But Ramsey, in particular, can move into the slot and play more of a star role (nickel/linebacker hybrid) like we saw last season with the Los Angeles Rams.
When Ramsey moves inside, this is when I expect to see Kohou play on the boundary. But for the most part, I think Kohou will again be Miami's starting nickel cornerback. Rookie Cam Smith is another cornerback with versatility and can move around in Fangio's defense. The same can be said for a healthy Nik Needham, who has played repeatedly on the outside but excels in the slot. Nevertheless, with a second offseason under his belt and learning from two of the best cornerbacks in the game — and arguably the best defensive coordinator in football — I fully expect Kohou to take the next step in becoming a premier NFL cornerback this upcoming season.
according to @nextgenstats, #dolphins CB @_kader___ ranked 3rd in pass coverage last szn— josh houtz (@houtz) June 10, 2023
passer rating allowed: 78.7
catch rate below expectation: -6.4%
tight window %: 27.5%
target rate: 21.9%
avg separation: 2.9 yards
targeted expected points added: -25pic.twitter.com/kkMkq6MImH
Cornerbacks coach and pass-game specialist Sam Madison raved about Darth Kader earlier this month and expects big things from him this upcoming season, but he was hesitant to name him a starter.
Here's what the Dolphins legend said about Kohou when he was asked whether he was a starter or if he was contending for a starting job.
"Everybody's a starter. You talk about in this league, anything can happen at any given time and that's what I try to portray to these guys. He's done some really great things for us last year. He played in the nickel, he played at the dime, he played at cornerback position. Vic is trying to find the best people to put on the football field and he's definitely in the mix just like a lot of these guys are. But now it just becomes who's the most consistent, who's the most productive, and who's going to be one of those guys we can depend on no matter what position we put him in?
"He's working at it. He's still a rookie until he gets past those three games, but he's going into his second year so he understands the grueling part that it's going to take throughout the course of the year. He came back, his body looks good. He's taken care of some things off the field and we're just going to be able to see exactly how it all plays out. But it's fun to be able to see these guys grow, mature, and understand what this league is all about. They come in wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, and then you get thrown in there with some with some grown men, and then now you have to step up. But he did it and he's ready to go. He's open to whatever challenge Vic throws at him and he's open to competition because he never backs down."
Nothing will be handed to him, but after working his way up from undrafted rookie to one of the best cover cornerbacks in football, I think it’s safe to say the best of Kader Kohou is yet to come. #MayTheForceBeWithYou
What are your thoughts on Kader Kohou being named one of the top coverage cornerbacks according to Next Gen Stats advanced analytics? Where do you see him fitting in Vic Fangio's defense? How confident are you in Miami's secondary heading into the 2023 season? Let us know in the comments section below!