Top 20 drop rates among NFL receivers
Now that we’re five weeks into the NFL season, the sample size has grown sufficiently enough that we can dig into PFF’s signature stats, pointing out the standouts in hundreds of unique categories.
Let’s check in with the league’s wide receivers to see who has been a sure-handed star, and who has let that stardom slip through their fingers most often. To be considered, receivers needed to have 20 targets to their name; that gives us 61 receivers to compare.
Drop rate: Top 20 NFL receivers
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Coming off a 10-drop campaign in his final season as a 49er, Oakland’s Michael Crabtree is a bit of a shock to be holding down the top spot at this stage. The new Raider has settled in well, and can head into his bye week proud of the fact that he’s nabbed all 27 of the catchable balls that have come his way.
Did I say shock? I take it back, Crabtree’s presence isn’t the shocker. This is: Darrius Heyward-Bey came into Pittsburgh’s 2015 season carrying a career drop rate of 16.5 percent—that includes three separate years in which he failed to haul in more than 20 percent of the catchable balls sent his way. This strong start could be an early look at the vindicating season he’s been in search of for so long.
A torn ACL wiped out Jeremy Maclin’s 2013 season, but the time off may have cured more than just his knee. With hands that hadn’t been among the league’s best before the injury—he averaged nearly seven drops per season—Maclin came from nowhere to finish second on this list in 2014, with just one flub in 86 tries, and he’s setting another great pace in his first season as a Chief.
Dallas’ Cole Beasley finished 2014 with the WR group’s lone unblemished record, no drops on 37 catchable passes. He won’t match that effort this season, as he’s already let one get away, but it was just the fourth of his 107 career chances to date.
A drop rate article wouldn’t be complete if Larry Fitzgerald didn’t get a mention. Third behind Beasley and Maclin last year, and first the season before, he’s landed inside the top 10 six times in the PFF-era. His one drop so far this season matches his totals from each of the past two years, and brings his tally to three drops in his last 183 opportunities. Simply amazing.
The Seahawks have two receivers in the top six, the Packers and Cardinals each put a pair in the top 20, but Detroit is the only team represented by three receivers in this group. Lance Moore, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate have combined to successfully handle 75 of 77 catchable balls this year, making it clear that they’re not at the root of the team’s QB troubles.
Editor’s note: To see the receivers with the worst hands this season, click here.