Dec 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A
Greg Peshek, otherwise known on Twitter as @NU_Gap, has done two pieces breaking down the top wide receivers entering the 2014 NFL Draft for Rotoworld. You can see them in their entirety here and here. Peshek measures where they get the ball on the field, what they do after the catch, what routes they run and their drop rate. The wide receivers measured are Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Marqise Lee, Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., and Allen Robinson. These receivers are the ones currently projected to be taken within the first 50 picks of which the Jets have two (#18 and #50) so it is likely that one of these players may be a Jet next season. Let’s take a look at the data and see what it means in layman’s terms.
The first measure is where they get the ball on the field. According to Peshek, both Sammy Watkins and Jordan Matthews catch an enormous number of screen passes. 57.4% of Watkins receptions were on screens and Matthews caught 45.8% of his balls in that manner. To put that in perspective that is double the amount of the next receiver on the list. Screens are a significant part of the West Coast offense and the Jets threw more than they have in the recent past last year but they still didn’t have a player that was a consistent threat to take it for a touchdown. On the other hand the Jets also need players who are threats in the intermediate and deep passing game. Odell Beckham Jr. caught 62% of his passes 11 yards from the line of scrimmage or deeper, Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin both had over 25% of their catches over 20 yards from the line of scrimmage with Benjamin having a total of 50% from 11 yards or deeper. These are the passes that Geno Smith excels at so having players that can win the battles and get open in those areas is key.
Secondly yards after the catch is important as well because the ability to turn a bad play into something and a good play into a game changing play are sometimes the difference between winning and losing. The leader in this category, not surprisingly, is Sammy Watkins at 8.48 yards. However Watkins only averages catching the ball four yards from the line of scrimmage so his number isn’t as impressive as Mike Evans who catches it on average 14 yards from the line of scrimmage while still averaging 7.63 yards after the catch. Jordan Matthews was second at 7.8 yards after the catch, behind him was Allen Robinson at 7.56 with Marquise Lee rounding out the players over 7 yards after the catch with 7.05. The most fascinating statistic that Peshek shares is that 83% of Odell Beckham Jr.’s receptions went for 1st downs which is a testament to his big play ability and route running.
Jan 1, 2014; Tampa, Fl, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Next the kinds of routes were compared. In Peshek’s charts here what to look for is a variety to show that the receiver knows the entire route tree and isn’t limited to running basic stuff. The wide receiver with the best distribution of routes is Jarvis Landry. Nearly 70% of his routes were sharp cuts on ins and outs to go with slants and deep posts. He ran a straight go route 7.5% of the time with the rest on comeback routes (either designed or off of scramble drills). All of Odell Beckham Jr.’s route percentages are within normal range showing that he can showcase all the routes effectively. Almost 21% of Kelvin Benjamin’s routes were go routes to utilize his size and speed. Marquise Lee runs an abnormally high number of in and out routes at 43% and the lowest amount of go routes at 4.5% which is more of a function of USC’s short passing game and inconsistent quarterback play. Mike Evans not surprisingly has a very high rate of comeback routes at 43% because an abnormal amount of plays are scramble drills because of Johnny Manziel.
The last statistic is drop percentage which if you watched the Jets this year you know how important hands are to a wide receiver. According to Peshek, anything below 7% is above average. Jarvis Landry dropped only two balls all season for a 2.5% drop rate which is incredible. Evans was next at 4.29% then Watkins at 4.49% followed by Cooks at 4.69% then Robinson at 5.43%. Beckham Jr. completes the receivers under 7% at 6.45%. The rest of the receivers are Matthews at 7.69% which is troubling because of all the screens he catches, Benjamin at 9.68% and Lee at a whopping 12.3%.
Watkins, Beckham Jr., and Cooks also have excellent return ability and add an additional chance of making a game-changing play. Not counting Watkins who will be long gone by 18 the players I like most for the Jets are Evans and Beckham Jr. Evans is a huge red zone target that also has the speed to get deep, run after the catch and has good hands. Beckham Jr. is a big play receiver who runs excellent routes and can change a game with a big return as well. If the Jets go with another position in the first round Jarvis Landry would not be a bad consolation prize. He has terrific hands and is a crisp route runner.