Neil’s NFL Daily: May 13, 2013

Neil Hornsby uses one of PFF's unique statistics to reveal which NFL WRs and defenders are the best at drawing penalties from their opponents,

| 4 years ago

Neil’s NFL Daily: May 13, 2013

There were some low key things happening the last few days that warrant comment so I’ll do that later, but these transaction hiatuses do give me a chance to do something a little different and provide you with some more of our unique PFF stats.

We have a play type in our database called “Caused Flag” (or “CF’s” as the teams refer to them) and this is used when a player draws a penalty as opposed to giving one up. The positional groups this affects most are wide receivers and the defensive front seven, and today I’ll look at those players who bring about the highest percentage of yellow flags.


Monday, May 13th

Drawing Penalties

Wide Receivers

It would be trite to simply publish a list of receivers with the most caused flags — at the end of the day it may well just be a function of those running the most routes. So, on that basis I decided to look at the percentage of penalties drawn to routes run. The table below includes players who ran 200 or more routes, and naturally includes plays negated by penalty.


Penalties Drawn by WRs as a Percentage of Routes Run

RankNameTeamFlags DrawnRoutes Run% Flags Drawn
1Torrey SmithBLT167052.27%
2Percy HarvinMIN62782.16%
3Domenik HixonNYG62792.15%
4Steve L. SmithCAR125592.15%
5Pierre GarconWAS52392.09%
6Jordy NelsonGB104842.07%
7Lance MooreNO105031.99%
8Brian HartlineMIA115541.99%
9Dwayne BoweKC84191.91%
10Hakeem NicksNYG84241.89%
10Marvin JonesCIN52651.89%
12Jacoby JonesBLT73751.87%
13Reggie WayneIND147921.77%
14Stephen HillNYJ52831.77%
15Calvin JohnsonDET147951.76%
16Rod StreaterOAK74051.73%
17Kenny BrittTEN74141.69%
18Demaryius ThomasDEN116551.68%
19Chaz SchilensNYJ42531.58%
20Brandon StokleyDEN74471.57%


The most striking thing is that not only did the Ravens’ Torrey Smith draw the highest number of flags, but he also had the biggest percentage too. With Jacoby Jones also in the Top 20 (at 12) it gives a clear indication of just how much opposing teams feared the Baltimore deep passing game. Also, while the numbers for Domenik Hixon may be low, the Panthers should be interesting to watch in this regard next year as, with Carolina picking him up as an unrestricted free agent, they now have the No. 3 and No. 4 players on the list.


Defensive Linemen and Linebackers

As these guys can typically draw flags in either the running or passing game, on this occasion I’ve include both and used 400 defensive snaps as the qualifying mark.


Penalties Drawn by Defensive Linemen and Linebackers as a Percentage of Defensive Snaps

RankNameTeamPos.Total SnapsTotal Flags Drawn% Flags DrawnPassing FlagsRunning Flags
1Brandon GrahamPHIDL43561.38%51
2Jason Pierre-PaulNYGDL90091.00%36
3Dezman MosesGBLB50450.99%41
4Derrick MorganTENDL93090.97%45
5Tom JohnsonNODL43140.93%22
6Juqua ParkerCLEDL54850.91%32
7Lamarr HoustonOAKDL87880.91%35
8Rob JacksonWASLB66560.90%51
9John AbrahamATLDL80670.87%43
10Antonio D. SmithHOUDL92280.87%62
11Von MillerDENLB107290.84%72
12Robert QuinnSLDL84970.82%70
13Jermaine CunninghamNEDL48740.82%13
14Kyle MooreBUFDL50140.80%31
15Dwight FreeneyINDLB76960.78%60


While Von Miller and Jason Pierre-Paul are joint defensive leaders in flags drawn, neither could beat Brandon Graham in terms of overall percentage of penalties caused. So, not only did Brandon Graham top our Pass Rush Productivity listing with a massive 17.3, he also made offensive lineman take additional measures to combat his effectiveness.

One last thing, while we didn’t see Pierre-Paul at his best as a pass rusher this year we felt he was the best 4-3 DE run defender in the league (just ahead of Lamarr Houston). The fact that six of the nine penalties he drew occurred in the running game goes to this point.



As I suggested in last Wednesday’s NFL daily, it might be a good idea if the Cardinals signed Karlos Dansby — and on Friday they duly obliged. This is a huge upgrade, not only over what they currently have but what they had last year too, and in the 12 games they’ll play together Dansby and Daryl Washington will be one of the top ILB combos around (Washington is suspended for four games).

In the same article I felt another possible landing place might be the Giants, but they instead plumped for Aaron Curry. It’s a strange move by them, not so much because Curry is a bad player, but because it seems to perpetuate their recent penchant for trying to revive other teams cast offs who never lived up to their original billing. Keith Rivers fell into this category last year, and while you could say so does Dansby he at least had a history of delivery and it was his salary not performance that saw him surplus to requirements in Miami.

After being drafted fourth overall in 2009 by Seattle, Curry had a very mixed rookie season with some excellent performances breaking up longer passages of dreadful ones. He particularly struggled in pass coverage and although he improved in 2010 it was never enough to merit what the Seahawks would pay him going forward. When the Raiders optimistically decided to trade for him Seattle didn’t even look at the picture of the gift horse, saddling Oakland with just another first-round flop. The good news for the Giants is that on occasion he can play very well, but what has not happened to date is stringing together any kind of consistency.


Other editions of Neil’s NFL Daily can be found HERE


Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil


| PFF Founder

Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.

  • J.T.

    does this take into account the penalty rating u guys give??

    • Dr__P

      I suggested that very thing some time ago. Even if there were TWO separate columns instead of a net, that would add value to the rankings.

      • sgtrobo

        Do you track the # of penalty yards drawn by DPI/defensive holding type penalties downfield? It seemed like a very effective strategy the Ravens were using all season, i.e. chuck it downfield and draw the penalty.

  • Jon

    Great stuff, as always.

  • Jad

    Would love to see the numbers for safeties. As a ravens fan, I can’t help but think Pollard was partly let go because of his flags (and Reed too to some extent)