While free agency quiets down and the draft remains six weeks away, we figure we might reach out to NFL fans with some of our unique Signature Stats-based articles. A bridge between our grades and conventional stats, the aim is to embrace the use of numbers in examining areas of importance, but adding a greater degree of context than what is currently out there.
Take what we’re talking about today. The PFF Drop Rate. Often receivers have been lambasted for their numbers of drops and while that can be fair game, how can we compare one player dropping 20 balls when he is thrown 150, to another dropping six when he is thrown 40?
Well, what we’ve done is gather a few numbers to really answer which receivers have the best hands. Firstly, we’ve created the catchable balls number which adds up catches and drops. We then collect a percentage of how many drops a receiver had by their catchable balls, and presto! …you’ve got yourself a ‘drop rate’ — the best metric out there for determining the hands of receivers.
So then let’s see, out of wide receivers thrown at least 40 catchable balls, who is the top dog.
Fitz for the Win
There’s been a lot of talk about Larry Fitzgerald not being the player he once was. And in a lot of respects that is accurate as his numbers have gone down and his impact plays far fewer. But in one area that is unfair is the quality of his hands which continue to be the envy of many in the league. This year he dropped just one of 83 catchable balls which gave him a drop rate of 1.2 to top all receivers. Of course this isn’t a new thing for the Cardinal who has dropped just 19 passes in the previous five years.
While this should not surprise, it may catch some off guard that DeAndre Hopkins, who dropped just one of 53 catchable passes, finished second overall. While Hopkins didn’t quite hit the ground running as many hoped in Year 1, it owed more to being on a different wavelength than his quarterbacks than any physical limitations. With a more stable quarterback position in year two and a likely surge in targets, he’ll be a guy to watch to see how he develops. To no surprise he was the top rookie.
It hasn’t been a great 18 months for one-time productive slot receiver Davone Bess. Go back to 2010 and his ability to get open and pick up first downs made him an asset for the Miami Dolphins. But then they started to ask more out of him and he really wasn’t up to the task, playing his way out of Florida and into a trade that saw him join the Cleveland Browns. His first year in Cleveland, culminating with him cut amid off-field problems, also saw him drop 25% of catchable balls to finish with the league’s worst drop rate.
Not that he was the only guy to have problems in Cleveland. Greg Little, who dropped eight of 49 catchable balls, had the fourth-worst rate. Clearly upgrading the receiver corps outside of Josh Gordon is a priority there.
As with all signature stats they aren’t exhaustive in what they explain. Not every drop is the same in terms of importance or difficulty. It’s why our grading is always trumps any pure number out there. In any case with a PFF Premium membership, at just $26.99, you’re fortunate enough to get both the numbers and the grades. For now enjoy these numbers.
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