Signature Stats: Drop Rate – Wide Receivers

With a full season of PFF data to work with, Khaled Elsayed uses our unique Drop Rate stat to highlight the surest, and shakiest, hands among NFL wide receivers.

| 4 years ago

Signature Stats: Drop Rate – Wide Receivers

With just one game of the season left we’re going to be focusing more on what has already transpired with a look back at some of our unique signature stats.

The first stat up is a simple one, and that’s our Drop Rate for wide receivers.

Why is it so simple? Well, all you do with a drop rate is add up the amount of catches and drops a guy had which creates a catchable balls figure. You then divide the number of drops by catchable balls, multiply by 100, and you have yourself a drop rate.


(Minimum of 40 catchable balls thrown your way to qualify)

Dropping the Ball

A good place to start is to look at which guys have dropped the ball the most. In that regard a hearty congratulations to Wes Welker who dropped 15 catchable balls in season 2012.


That’s one more than Calvin Johnson, who himself had one more than Brandon Marshall. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise when you consider those three represent 75% of the Top 4 most targeted receivers in the league (the exception being Reggie Wayne). Obviously it stands to reason that the more opportunity you have to drop a ball, the more balls you will drop.

It’s for that reason that we created our Drop Rate. So take a look at who had the most drops below, and then move on to see some numbers that really matter.


RankNameTeamTargetsCatchesDropsCatchableDrop Rate
1 Wes WelkerNE1661181513311.28
2 Calvin JohnsonDET1991221413610.29
3 Brandon MarshallCHI181118131319.92
4 Victor CruzNYG13786129812.24
5 Eric DeckerDEN12085129712.37
6 Donnie AveryIND11260127216.67
7 Demaryius ThomasDEN138941110510.48
8 Dez BryantDAL137921110310.68
9 Randall CobbGB10280119112.09
10 Steve JohnsonBUF14479119012.22


Tough Times in Indy

So, who are the guys dropping the highest percentage of catchable balls? It turns out they both play their football in Indianapolis, with both Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton finishing the year with a drop rate of 16.67. Just imagine what the stat line for Andrew Luck would have looked like if these two had been a little more sure-handed in their franchise quarterback’s rookie year.

After these two comes another pair of receivers, this team hailing from sunny Oakland. Rookie Rod Streater (15.22) and Denarius Moore (15) will need to show some improvement going forward, because it’s not acceptable to drop that many passes. They even pushed Greg Little down to the fifth-lowest score — though in fairness to Little he dropped only three passes from Week 6 onward.


NameTeamTargetsCatchesDropsCatchableDrop Rate
 Donnie AveryIND11260127216.67
 T.Y. HiltonIND8850106016.67
 Rod StreaterOAK713974615.22
 Denarius MooreOAK1105196015
 Greg LittleCLV875396214.52
 Cecil ShortsJAX1015596414.06
 Jordy NelsonGB714985714.04
 Andre RobertsARZ10764107413.51
 Kenny BrittTEN854575213.46
 Nate WashingtonTEN864675313.21


Eyes on the Prize

So we know the worst, but how about finding the best? Well, look no further than Jason Avant who was the only receiver to have at least 40 catchable balls thrown his way and not drop any of them. Kudos Jason, you’re the 2012 Drop Rate winner.

Behind him are a handful of guys who dropped only one pass. Percy Harvin finishes second, which isn’t completely surprising when you consider he’s catching a high volume of balls in space and near the line of scrimmage. Now how about the guy behind him, Desean Jackson. Traditionally one of the guys who drops a lot of balls, Jackson repaid the investment in him this offseason with the kind of sure handedness we haven’t seen from him in several years.


RankNameTeamTargetsCatchesDropsCatchableDrop Rate
1 Jason AvantPHI71530530
2 Percy HarvinMIN81621631.59
3 DeSean JacksonPHI75461472.13
4 Mario ManninghamSF55421432.33
5 Anquan BoldinBLT108652672.99
6 Danny AmendolaSL94622643.13
7 Malcom FloydSD82562583.45
8 Hakeem NicksNYG96532553.64
9 Roddy WhiteATL138924964.17
10 Golden TateSEA65452474.26
10 Brandon StokleyDEN57452474.26


Of course numbers don’t paint an entire picture. Not all drops are created equal and that’s something we take into account with our grading. However, the sample size is significant enough that you get a feel for which guys have the best, and worst, hands out there.

Stay tuned in the days ahead as we go beyond wide receivers to look at tight ends and backs.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • NinersFanMan

    One of my favorite stats on PFF. IMO, receivers never get enough blame because drops aren’t an official stat. A dropped pass, a ball bouncing off of their hands into a defender, and running the wrong route all go to the Qb. 

    I hope someday the NFL makes drops an official stat. Any chance at PFF making INT’s that are the receiver’s fault a stat? I know the INT’s that are thrown when a WR is a target is a stat, but what about when it’s their fault for not making a play on the ball or the ball bounces off of their hands? 

  • Lord Mad

    So this includes playoffs as well I presume?

    • Khaled Elsayed

      Nope – just focused on the regular season

  • Jprather17

    This is a great article and a great stat PFF does. I think the NFL and all the major stat hungry networks such as ESPN need to grab a hold of more stats like this to have an accountable stat line that tells more of the picture than yards TDs and INTs.

  • Tone Lellinger

    2 top ten for denver. Manning’s luck…

    • Ppstorgaard

      Or good ball placement. On the drop list anyone outside Nelson have rather inconsistent QBs or QBs throwing a lot of deep balls.

      • Ppstorgaard

        Oh, nevermind. Looked at the wrong stat.

  • LA

    So Golden Tate is the WR with less drops in the past two seasons, right? Only two i think. 

  • Garrett Johnson

    What were the numbers on Dwayne Bowe? Just out of curiosity.

  • Des32713

    As an Eagle fan I can’t help notice Avant’s low YAC but I’ll take it because he almost always makes the catch!  GO KELLY GREEN, GO EAGLES!

  • smither24

    Poor Andrew Luck. The ROY award may not even be a contest if Donnie Avery weren’t so terrible.

  • SkinsWin

    What about when these drops occur? Do they occur on third down which essentially ends a team’s drive? Or, are they on first down? Which does put the offense in 2nd and long but also gives the team two more plays to get a first down.


    How do you determine what is catchable and what is not?

  • Mick Pratt

    I would guess that the quarterback delivering a football with a good tight spin would help the reciever out. Probably not a coincidence that the top 4 are 2 sets of teammates. There is another set of teammates in Tennessee before you get out of the top 10.