Sig Stats: Drop Rate, WRs

Looking at 2013's best and worst at hauling in catchable passes, Khaled Elsayed shows the receivers at each end of the scale.

| 3 years ago

Sig Stats: Drop Rate, WRs

2013-WK08-DropRateWRsWhile 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.

# Name Team Drops Catchable Drop Rate
1  Larry Fitzgerald ARZ 1 83 1.20
2  DeAndre Hopkins HST 1 53 1.89
3  Jeremy Kerley NYJ 1 44 2.27
4  Rishard Matthews MIA 1 42 2.38
4  Vincent Brown SD 1 42 2.38
6  Cole Beasley DAL 1 40 2.50
7  James Jones GB 2 61 3.28
8  Marques Colston NO 3 78 3.85
8  Doug Baldwin SEA 2 52 3.85
10  Andre Roberts ARZ 2 45 4.44
11  Golden Tate SEA 3 67 4.48
12  Austin Pettis SL 2 40 5.00
13  Alshon Jeffery CHI 5 94 5.32
14  Marvin Jones CIN 3 54 5.56
15  DeSean Jackson PHI 5 87 5.75


Bad Bess

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.

# Name Team Drops Catchable Drop Rate
78  Davone Bess CLV 14 56 25.00
77  Kris Durham DET 10 48 20.83
76  Aaron Dobson NE 9 46 19.57
75  Greg Little CLV 8 49 16.33
74  Santana Moss WAS 8 50 16.00
73  Chris Givens SL 6 40 15.00
72  Brandon LaFell CAR 8 57 14.04
70  Vincent Jackson TB 12 90 13.33
70  Steve Johnson BUF 8 60 13.33
69  Cecil Shorts JAX 10 76 13.16
68  Mike Wallace MIA 11 84 13.10
67  Brandon Marshall CHI 15 115 13.04
66  Danny Amendola NE 8 62 12.90
65  Dwayne Bowe KC 8 65 12.31
64  Wes Welker DEN 10 83 12.05


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.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • Dave Clark

    I do hope the Browns part with Little. He has helped to make the QBs in Cleveland look even worse than they really are!

  • Glenn

    I’d say it is a bit of a surprise that Hopkins was the top rookie considering how well Keenan Allen did, but I watched Allen all season and he definitely had a few ‘rookie moments’

    What does surprise me is how high Vincent Brown is. He was pretty invisible all year considering the hype he was receiving in the off season (the likes of which I too participated)

    • Ralph Cramden

      Glenn: You don’t get it… This list is not about production. It is about success rate when the ball is thrown to them. If Vincent Brown was invisible, it was because only 42 catchable balls were thrown to him.

  • Johnny Twobutts

    Doug Baldwin is just an ‘average’ receiver. Pedestrian.

    • n8r0n

      I think people are going to be letting Jeffri Chadiha hear about that one for quite a while.

  • Ishkabibble

    Too many Patriots (including newly-signed LaFell) on this list for comfort. Still, about half of Dobson’s drops came Week 2 against the Jets, just his 2nd NFL game. By and large, I think he has much better hands than this, though he’s gotta go out and prove it next season.

  • dmoney

    i just wish that this graph also showed targets..they don’t need to be part of the equation but would help get a better picture of what the receivers do.