This article is part of our Corner Report series.
This article will go game by game for the Sunday main slate looking at the top wide receivers from an offense and, based on the inside/outside and left/right splits in the alignment data of those receivers, identify the cornerbacks most likely to face them in man coverage. The corners named will parenthetically cite the rank of their coverage grade from Pro Football Focus from the 2020 season, though sometimes with reference to prior years when noted.
Receivers very rarely see the same corner every play, be it due to formational quirks or zone coverage calls by the defense, so a receiver's fortunes depend on much more than just the quality of the corner they're likely to see the most in a given game. Even against a bad corner, a good receiver can be denied the opportunity if the pass rush or something else outside his control complicates things. But it's part of the puzzle, and it's worth keeping track of.
Receivers are left with an Upgrade, Downgrade, or Even verdict based on their projected matchup. This shouldn't be read as 'good' or 'bad' but rather a measured tweak from the receiver's baseline projection.
PIT vs DEN
PITTSBURGH WIDE RECEIVERS
JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson played in most two-wide sets for Pittsburgh in Week 1, with Smith-Schuster moving to the slot and James Washington generally stepping in outside in three-wide sets.