Signature Stats: Drop Rate – WRs

Khaled Elsayed dusts off one of PFF's most popular Signature Stats to reveal who has the safest, and the slipperiest, hands among the league's WRs.

| 4 years ago

Signature Stats: Drop Rate – WRs

2013-WK08-DropRateWRsIn our time at Pro Football Focus we’ve created a lot of signature stats. While these will never be as deep as our grading, they do go further than the box score numbers in explaining what players are (and are not) doing well.

One of the first of these bad boys (all of the signature stats can be found on the Premium section of our site) was the Drop Rate. It always stands to reason that the more balls you are thrown, the more you are likely to drop passes, so rather than just punish players as being prone to the dropsies because they’re prominent parts of their offense, we’ve made that number relate to the number of catchable balls thrown their way.

It’s pretty simple when you think of it. Catchable balls equals the total numbers of receptions and drops, and then you get a percentage dividing the drops by the catchable balls. Hey presto, you’ve got yourself an efficiency stat.

Now to the numbers. Minimum 20 catchable balls to qualify.

Eight men stand alone at the top by virtue of not having dropped any passes this year. Sure, some may have got the benefit on some debatable calls, but we’re applying a uniformed definition of catchable throughout.

At the top is Larry Fitzgerald by virtue of having more catchable passes thrown his way. The always sure-handed Cardinals is 36 and 0 when it comes to receptions and drops, with those five extra catches keeping him above Torrey Smith, DeAndre Hopkins and others you’ll be able to see on the table below.


Top 20 WRs by Drop Rate

RankNameTeamCatchesDropsCatchableDrop Rate
1 Larry FitzgeraldARZ360360
2 Torrey SmithBAL310310
3 DeAndre HopkinsHST280280
4 Vincent BrownSD260260
5 Marvin JonesCIN240240
6 Doug BaldwinSEA230230
7 Rod StreaterOAK230230
8 James JonesGB200200
9 Antonio BrownPIT561571.75
10 Andre JohnsonHST481492.04
11 Michael FloydARZ341352.86
12 Emmanuel SandersPIT311323.13
13 Justin BlackmonJAX291303.33
14 Marques ColstonNO271283.57
14 Jeremy KerleyNYJ271283.57
14 Denarius MooreOAK271283.57
17 Dwayne BoweKC261273.70
17 Keenan AllenSD261273.70
19 Demaryius ThomasDEN482504.00
20 Victor CruzNYG472494.08

A special mention to Hopkins who does lead all rookies by virtue of his sure-handedness. That keeps him above Keenan Allen (one drop on 27 catchable balls), while the only other rookies to feature on the list find themselves in the bottom 22. Robert Woods has three drops and 22 catches, while Marlon Brown has the same number of drops and one fewer reception. Neither is as bad as Ace Sanders (20% of catchable balls dropped) or both Tavon Austin and Kenbrell Thompkins who are hovering around the 14% mark. Of course neither is as bad as Aaron Dobson who, with eight drops and 26 catches, has the second-worst catch rate of all receivers. Poor Tom Terrific.

But he isn’t the worst, and the man who is actually surprises us quite a bit. Not because he’s been all worldly this year but because Davone Bess is normally more surer of hand than this. He has nine drops this year (he had eight in 2012, and averaged six between 2008 and 2011) and really hasn’t adjusted to life in Cleveland. He may feel himself unlucky that the lack of chemistry between Kenny Britt and every QB on the Titans’ roster has prevented him having enough catchable balls thrown his way to qualify. As it is, he’s dropped a third of those he should be securing.

Indeed, Cleveland appears the place to go when it comes to dropping passes. After a late-2012 renaissance where he showed signs of getting his drops under control, Greg Little is back at it with five this year and the-fifth worst drop rate. Even their shining light Josh Gordon features in the bottom 20 with five of his own. Far from ideal.


Bottom 20 WRs by Drop Rate

RankNameTeamCatchesDropsCatchableDrop Rate
1 Davone BessCLV2893724.32
2 Aaron DobsonNE2683423.53
3 Santana MossWAS1952420.83
4 Ace SandersJAX1642020.00
5 Greg LittleCLV2152619.23
6 Mike WallaceMIA3073718.92
7 Darrius Heyward-BeyIND1842218.18
8 Rueben RandleNYG2352817.86
9 Danny AmendolaNE1942317.39
10 Kris DurhamDET2553016.67
11 Hakeem NicksNYG3464015.00
12 Kenbrell ThompkinsNE2342714.81
13 Vincent JacksonTB4174814.58
14 Tavon AustinSL3153613.89
15 Greg JenningsMIN2542913.79
16 Leonard HankersonWAS1932213.64
17 Josh GordonCLV3253713.51
18 Steve JohnsonBUF3353813.16
19 Marlon BrownBAL2132412.50
19 Brandon LaFellCAR2132412.50

Of course it should be noted that not all drops are created equal. The classic example being the Wes Welker Super Bowl drop that was certainly catchable but would never receive the kind of grade that the more boneheaded drops would. That’s the beauty of grading, you can account for that kind of context.

So if you want to see how all our receivers grade then simply sign up for premium and in addition to all the signature stats you’ll get all the grades and much, much more. Just $26.99 for 365 days access, can’t be any fairer than that.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • fish

    Doug Baldwin! That’s my guy! Now if we could get him more targets, rather if the offensive line can spare wilson just a second more and a few throwing lanes, that’d be awesome.

  • BurgundyClone

    Antonio Brown clearly dropped 2 passed versus the Raiders -something is off with how you’re grading dropped passes.

    • Lord Mad

      It has to be catchable. Was it?

      • Ryan Crinnigan

        For a pass to be ‘dropped,’ it had to have been catchable to some extent…some clarification would be good.

        • BurgundyClone

          For Brown’s they were in his hands and then he did get hit (if he had secured the ball would have been fine) -so it must not include balls where contact is made with the receiver.

  • Soren

    Could we get a definition of catchable ball? If you have a uniform standard then you have some sort of criteria and It would add a lot of credibility if you would post the definition.

  • LightsOut85

    Ug, I wish drops were listed in official play-by-play so we could apply Advanced NFL Stats Win-Probability-Added, see which drops have been most costly & which really didn’t matter.

  • [email protected]

    People..well NYJ fans…kill Stephen Hill saying he drops too many passes. I tell you what, this bottom group of 20, there are some pretty good WR here.