ITP Glossary: Boundary Corner

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From 12 personnel to press man coverage, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Boundary Corner

A boundary corner is a cornerback who routinely lines up on the boundary, or shorter side of the field. This distinction is rarely significant at the NFL level, where the hash marks are fairly close together (18’6”) and the areas to either side are similarly sized. The wider hash marks (40 feet apart) in the NCAA mean that the boundary side might only be 60% of the area of the field side. Boundary corner is considered the more challenging position, because with a smaller area to defend, cornerbacks do not get as much safety help as their counterparts on the field side. Defenses will often key their defensive strength based on the width of the field rather than formation, quarterback handedness, personnel matchups, or other factors that might influence where the defense lines up. A boundary corner must often play on an island,  with little help in both the pass and run games.

Boundary Corner

Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley (#25) is aligned as the boundary corner at the top of the still, while Adrian Baker (#21) is the field corner at the bottom. This play illustrates the importance of the field / boundary distinction for defenses. In this case, Alabama has twin receivers to either side and the running back offset to the quarterback’s right, making the strength of the passing formation to the boundary side. Despite this, Clemson deploys three defensive backs on the field side and only two on the boundary side, concerned with the area they need to cover rather than the strength of the formation.

Some draftniks have taken to using “boundary corner” to describe any cornerbacks who play on the outside rather than in the slot. This usage is confusing given the more precise meaning employed in the college game.

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Dave Archibald wrote this entry. Follow Dave on Twitter @davearchie.

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All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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