Signature Stats: Drop Rate – Tight Ends

They are the trendy asset for every passing offense, but who has the best hands among the NFL's tight ends? Khaled Elsayed uses PFF's Drop Rate stat to find out.

| 4 years ago

Signature Stats: Drop Rate – Tight Ends

Yesterday we looked back at the Drop Rate for wide receivers in the 2012 season. Well, it stands to reason that we would next turn our attention to tight ends to see which guys had the best hands this year.

A drop rate is figured out when you add up the amount of catches and drops a guy had to create a catchable balls figure. You then divide the number of drops by catchable balls, multiply by 100, and you get yourself a drop rate.

For tight ends we’ve set the minimum catchable targets at 30, and the results are interesting.

Dropping the Ball

Once you see which tight end dropped the most passes in the NFL, it goes someway to explaining why we spent less time talking about Jimmy Graham in 2012 after his breakout 2011. His 15 drops led all tight ends, with the next worst being the 10 managed by Aaron Hernandez.

Quite the difference.

Other guys in the Top 5 include Jermichael Finley and Brandon Pettigrew, who both dropped nine passes. Yet they at least caught more than 50 balls each. The same can’t be said for Delanie Walker, who caught only 21 passes compared to the nine he dropped.


RankNameTeamTargetsCatchesDropsCatchableDrop Rate
1 Jimmy GrahamNO131851510015
2 Aaron HernandezNE8051106116.39
3 Jermichael FinleyGB856197012.86
3 Brandon PettigrewDET955996813.24
3 Delanie WalkerSF372193030
6 Jason WittenDAL14611081186.78
6 Jermaine GreshamCIN926487211.11
6 Brent CelekPHI835786512.31
9 Rob GronkowskiNE775576211.29
10 Brandon MyersOAK101796857.06
10 Owen DanielsHST98626688.82
10 Martellus BennettNYG88556619.84
10 Kyle RudolphMIN865365910.17
10 Marcedes LewisJAX755265810.34
10 Tony SchefflerDET834264812.5


Woeful Walker

That means nobody has a worse drop rate than Walker, who dropped a staggering 30% of all catchable balls. I think I speak for all of us when I say, wow. His score puts that of Hernandez (16.39) and Graham (15) to shame,  and is more than double that of Pettigrew and Finley who also feature in the bottom five.

For those wondering where Kellen Davis is, it’s only the lack of catchable balls thrown his way that see him avoid the list. His 29.63 drop rate was bad enough that it would be something of a surprise to see him back in Chicago next year. You can’t drop eight balls and catch 19 and make it in this league.


NameTeamTargetsCatchesDropsCatchableDrop Rate
 Delanie WalkerSF372193030
 Aaron HernandezNE8051106116.39
 Jimmy GrahamNO131851510015
 Brandon PettigrewDET955996813.24
 Jermichael FinleyGB856197012.86
 Tony SchefflerDET834264812.5
 Brent CelekPHI835786512.31
 Rob GronkowskiNE775576211.29
 Jermaine GreshamCIN926487211.11
 Lance KendricksSL564154610.87


Fantastic Fasano

Still, there are plenty who can be proud of their performances. Take Anthony Fasano for example, who went the entire year without dropping a single pass. He may not excite a fanbase like some other tight ends, but he’s once again proven to be a reliable weapon for his quarterback.

He was the only tight end not to drop a pass, while three others all ended the year with only the one drop. Of them, Jacob Tamme caught the most balls and so finished second overall, highlighting how effective he was despite being a situational player.


RankNameTeamTargetsCatchesDropsCatchableDrop Rate
1 Anthony FasanoMIA61410410
2 Jacob TammeDEN80521531.89
3 Zach J. MillerSEA46381392.56
4 Jeff CumberlandNYJ52291303.33
5 Tony GonzalezATL121934974.12
6 Dennis PittaBLT90613644.69
7 Heath MillerPIT93714755.33
8 Greg OlsenCAR96694735.48
9 Ben WatsonCLV74493525.77
10 Dallas ClarkTB69473506


Of course, there’s more to playing tight end than just catching the ball. However, as offenses become more and more passing oriented, it’s pivotal they find guys who can secure the football and make stuff happen. In respect of the first part of that, the Drop Rate really highlights (for good and bad) the extremes of doing so.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • dave

    I was looking at the wr drop article wondering where the heck is Walker….then I realized you weren’t counting all pass catchers. Sure enough, there is Walker in first place with a huge margin. Dude says hes been using a jugs machine….he needs glue. 

  • Chris

    How is Kellen Davis from the Bears not on this list.  The guy dropped about half the passes thrown to him.  

    • Iwastman

      “For those wondering where Kellen Davis is, it’s only the lack of catchable balls thrown his way that see him avoid the list.”

    • Kevin Byrd

       I’m always amazed at the number of questions that would have already been answered if you just would of read the couple simple paragraphs.

  • Jasonw84

    Wow, this means the Dolphins absolutely have to re-sign Fasano. You got guys like Davis and Walker dropping 30% of catchable balls and then you got “Elite” TE’s like Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Graham combining for a 14% drop rate. I played WR/TE for a semi-pro football team and had a 3% drop rate. 

    • Chris form PA

      Wow man maybe you should be in the NFL

    • Latez1

       You mention your own stats as if anyone gives a flying fuck.

    • jack_sprat2

      They’re not getting the TIME to adjust to the ball that you are, which makes all the difference in the world. Most drops are at least as much about the eyes as they are about the hands.

  • Creighton

    That doesn’t make sense about Kellen Davis, Walker is on the list. Their drop rate, catches, drops and catchable balls are almost identical. TA 44, 19 catches, 8 drops, 27 catchable. It’s cause Emery tossed your name out there. Your throwing the Bears a bone. Emery is full of it, don’t do him any favors, he used your name but not your numbers. Hetried to use you guys to make his numbers sound legit, but he tailored the stats, lied about the source and hand picked specific numbers ouut of context.