Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs generated a lot of noise in 2021 by leading the NFL with 11 interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, and garnering plenty of buzz over the Defensive Player of the Year award. Though Stephon Gilmore won the award only a couple of years earlier, it is rare for a cornerback to take the top defensive prize and Diggs’ 11 picks ranked as the NFL’s highest total since Lester Hayes had 13 in 1980.
But Diggs didn’t win the award in large part due to a dichotomy of interceptions forced to touchdowns and yards allowed. Diggs gave up over 900 receiving yards, by some metrics, the most in the NFL. Diggs had 11 picks, but quarterbacks didn’t stop challenging him because he was also very giving.
That has not been the case so far in 2022.
Diggs has two interceptions in the Cowboys first four games of the season, but he has only allowed 14/25 completions for 157 yards and one touchdown. According to PFF, Diggs has been the best cornerback in the NFL in single coverage situations thus far:
Trevon Diggs in single coverage:— PFF (@PFF) October 8, 2022
⭐️ 5 forced incompletions (T-1st)
⭐️ 2 INTs (T-1st)
⭐️ 44.9 passer rating allowed pic.twitter.com/xKxLDZ8izl
We may be seeing the evolution of the 2020 second round pick out of Alabama from a big play threat to an actual shutdown cornerback, perhaps the best at his position in the NFL. What better test for Diggs to face than the player who won the Offensive Player of the Year award in 2021?
Unsurprisingly, Cooper Kupp leads the NFL with 42 catches this season, 11 more than any other player. (Coincidentally, Stefon Diggs is in second place; Stefon is Trevon’s brother.) Kupp’s 402 receiving yards ranks fifth (Courtland Sutton has played in five games and has 417 yards) and his three touchdowns is only one behind the leader.
Kupp isn’t going to stop eating: He has over 100 yards in three of his four starts this season and the lone exception came against the Arizona Cardinals. For some reason, Kupp has only failed to produce big numbers against one team since the start of 2021: The Cardinals. They’ve held him under 70 yards in three of four tries.
Nobody else has held him under 90.
Since Matthew Stafford has failed to look in any other direction, Kupp is on track to lead the NFL in receptions for the second year in a row and he might even win the “triple crown” again given how things have started. That’s where Trevon Diggs can step up to show how valuable he really is to the Cowboys (third in defense right now) this season.
If Diggs can contain Kupp, where will Stafford turn to next?
Allen Robinson has done barely anything to start his Rams career. Ben Skowronek would be a surprising weapon to breakout on Sunday, at least as a receiver. Tutu Atwell might not even be active. It could be Tyler Higbee playing second fiddle to Kupp once again. Brandon Powell, anyone?
Cooper Kupp vs Trevon Diggs might not only be the matchup of the week, it could be the best WR/CB face-off of the entire season.