3 Things You Can’t Ignore When Playing Press Man Coverage

By: Chad Wilson
Owner: All Eyes DB Camp

Nowadays, playing press man coverage is a must for cornerbacks at virtually all levels. Being good at press involves some athletic attributes that are key, however, it is your mental approach that will bring you the most success.

In this article, I will break down for you three very important elements that all defensive backs should have foremost on their mind when they lineup in press coverage.

Aside from the basics that a player should know like down, distance and formation, here are the important things that a DB playing press should be aware of: 


One of the more common mistakes the defensive backs make is not paying attention to this detail. How far away you lineup from the receiver can be everything in the rep. Aligning too close can cause you to make a misstep off the first move. Often times,  defensive backs will panic if they are too close and the first move by the wide receiver is sudden or explosive. Find your comfortable depth off of a receiver so that your first steps can be smooth and under control. You can adjust this depth based on the technique you are going to use or the type of player you are facing. 

I often use baseball analogies when teaching defensive backs. In this particular case, I speak of a batter in the batter’s box. If you are facing a picture with a really good fastball, you would move to the back of the batter’s box. You would need to give yourself that extra amount of time to see the fastball and make contact with it. if you were facing a slower picture with a good breaking ball, you would most likely move yourself up in the batter’s box to try and make contact with the curveball before it fell over the plate. Similarly, you would need to know your depth and be consistent with it in press man. You cannot take this detail for granted.


Simply put, leverage is your shaded alignment on the wide receiver. This could be head up, inside or outside. Different coverages call for different types of leverage. For instance, two man coverage requires a defense back to have inside leverage. Cover one requires outside leverage in most cases.

Being unaware of your required leverage is a sin. Leverages are designed to allow you to get the most from your help on a particular play. Your help can come in the form of another player on your team, the sideline, the end line or an all out blitz. Knowing the coverage and the required leverage to take advantage of the help you have is of the utmost importance.

Aligning without the proper leverage is suicide and could land you on the bench. So along with knowing how far you should align off of a receiver, understanding your position from left to right on a receiver when you align is equally as important.


After aligning at the proper depth and making sure you have the proper shade (leverage) against the receiver, now it’s time to place the eyes in the proper place.

Having your eyes where they are supposed to be will take a conscious effort, especially if you are a younger player. The natural tendency will be to look into the face of the receiver you are covering.

The higher your eyes are when you align on the receiver, the more likely you will be fooled by him. A receiver can betray you with head and shoulder movements. It is more difficult for him to move his waist in an explosive manner that would fool you. For this reason, it is best and highly recommended that defensive backs focus their eyes on a small part of the receiver’s waist.

This limits your ability to be fooled by sudden moves at the snap of the ball.  This also puts you in better position to mirror a receiver’s moves or get hands on him as he tries to exit the line of scrimmage.

The placement of your eyes needs to be a consistent thing. Definitely add it to your pre-snap checklist.  If you need to say it to yourself in the beginning out loud, then do so because it is that important. You couldn’t play this position if you were blind. So, if that is the case, your eyes in the right spot should be of utmost importance to you.

You do not want to lineup in front of a wide receiver in a press man situation with too many things on your mind. Having these three things present in your mind: depth, leverage and eye placement will set you up for success. Take any of these things for granted and there’s a really good chance that you will meet failure. If you add too much to your pre-snap checklist will overwhelm you.  This too will lead to failure. Make these three things your focus and watch your press man reps improve dramatically.

For more info, drills and analysis on press man coverage, check out the All Eyes Db Camp members area.

Author: Chad Wilson

Chad Wilson is the owner of All Eyes DB Camp and author of "101 DB Tips". He played college football at the University of Miami and briefly in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks. Over his 15 year high school football coaching career, he tutored over a dozen Division I defensive backs and as a trainer has worked with NFL All Pros, first round draft picks, college football All Americans and Top 10 ranked high school football prospects.

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