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WR Crop Looking Pretty Strong for 2014


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#169 carolina-chuck

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 06:32 PM

Analyzing the NFL Draft Through Statistics and Film Study
2014 Top Wide Receivers: Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, and Jordan Matthews

Posted on November 6, 2013

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sammy-watkins-p11.jpg?w=594&h=250&crop=1


Wide receivers are one of my favorite positions to chart and analyze. Sure, a lot is contingent on scheme and QB play, but with enough data you can really start to get a feel for a player. Luckily, I’ve got a lot of data on the wide receivers – probably more than I can use or synthesize. With that, we’re going to take a look at some of the top wide receivers likely to declare for 2014: Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, and Jordan Matthews.

These numbers are all hand charted by myself. I’ve got every one of Sammy Watkins’ games here, skipped UMass and UAB for Matthews, and missing SD State and USC for Cooks. However, each of these is still a better sample size than I had for any WR last year – so I’m pretty happy with the data. Let’s get to it.

Where did they catch the ball?

2014wrstier1comps.png?w=594

  • We have to start with the obvious, Matthews and Watkins’ high percentage of screens. Matthews and Watkins caught 42% and 45.5% of their total receptions behind the line of scrimmage. For reference, the average WR I charted last year caught 19% of their passes behind the LOS.
  • Cooks’ distribution of receptions is distributed much better. He still catches an above-average amount of balls behind the LOS, but has the same amount of receptions in the 1-5, 6-10 and 20+ yard zones.
  • 17.4% of Cooks’ receptions were deeper than 20 yards; that compares favorably to Terrance Williams and DeAndre Hopkins last year. Meanwhile only 6% of Jordan Matthews’ receptions were deeper than 20 yards, however he caught 22% of his passes in the intermediate zone.

What did they do after they caught it?

We have a couple of interesting cases here. Most quality college wide receivers average 5.5-7 yards after the catch, depending on their offense. Tavon Austin was an extreme outlier with 8+ yards this past year. We have even larger outliers here.

wrtier1yac.png?w=594

  • Sammy Watkins, hailed as an athletic freak, averages 9.71 yards after the catch. Jordan Matthews averages slightly less at 8.5. While Cooks’ is far more average at 5.5 yards. Let’s talk about screens.
  • I like to use screens as an indicator for athletic ability. If you can make a guy miss in the open field and gain yardage, you’re doing a good job. For reference the top tiers of last year’s receivers averaged 5.77 yards after the catch.
    • Watkins: 9.27 yards after the catch on screens
    • Matthews: 13.2 yards on screens
    • Cooks: 13.44 yards on screens
  • This is an odd situation, because Watkins and Matthews only catch the ball on average 5 yards from the LOS. How much of that comes via athletic ability and how much from scheme. Here’s an indicator, Watkins averages 10.1 yards after the catch on non-screens, which Matthews only averages 5.1 yards.
  • Let’s not forget about Cooks, who looks far more like a normal receiver than the others. He has caught the ball 10.36 yards down the field, comparing to his teammate Markus Wheaton last year.

What did they do to catch the ball?

A new feature this year, I recorded the last break the receivers made on their route before they caught the ball. They could run a slant and go, all that would be recorded is the go route. However, it should give you a good feel for their diversity of routes (outside of screens). Slants are included with post/corner, it was just too bulky to put in the chart.

2014wrtier1routes.png?w=594

  • Outside of screens, Watkins probably has the most diversity in his routes. 33% of his routes have been breaking back to the QB, but he still runs a nice amount of square routes and post/corners.
  • Cooks’ receptions are well distributed except for a lack of routes directly down the field. We’ve seen that he’s catch plenty of deep balls, they just all tend to be on post and corner routes.
    • Cooks’ overall YAC is lower, however it may be attributed to the high number of routes breaking back to the QB. These routes typically average ~2.5 yards after the catch for all WRs. Thus, when his receptions consist of 40% of these routes, it’s going to naturally limit YAC.
  • Matthews may be the most predictable wide receiver in all of college football. Approximately 75% of his routes are screens or post/corners/slants. Vanderbilt loves to line up Matthews in the slot and hit soft spots in the opponents’ zone on those post and corner routes.

Miscellaneous stats

  • We have to talk about drops. Typically a wide receiver should drop no higher than 7% of his passes. That’s about average for college wide receivers. Anything higher is a red flag to me.
    • Cooks: 4.17%
    • Watkins: 5.71%
    • Matthews: 10.71%
  • A large percentage of Cooks’ receptions come in the red zone. Nearly 25% of his receptions and 12.5% of his yardage has come near the goal line. This will also naturally limit Cooks’ YAC. Matthews and Watkins each average about 15% of receptions in the RZ and 6% of yardage.
  • Nearly 64% of Cooks’ total yardage has come on first down. Watkins’ receptions are extremely well distributed with 33% on each of the first three downs.
  • None of their QBs have missed the wide receivers at a prolific rate. Unlike Patterson, Hunter, and Wheaton who were recipients of poor QB play when targeted last year. However, Matthews has received nearly 42% of all of Vanderbilt’s passes. The highest I’ve seen among WRs.

This wide receiver group is very enigmatic. I’ve never seen two wide receivers with such high YAC or receptions as screens. It tends to make the evaluation a little wonky from a statistical standpoint. Do you attribute that high YAC to system or player? Is it different for Matthews and Watkins who have similar statistics? I tend to think it is.  That’s for people to decide individually though.

I have so much data. I have data on QB ball placement that I haven’t even had time to get around to yet. Those will likely appear in a later post when I’ve got more wide receivers to compare it to. I also have data on defender distance from the wide receiver at the time of catch. Again, it will likely appear later. For now, this is what I have. As always, follow on Twitter  for extra info/ updates on more posts. Thanks for reading y’all.



#170 carolina-chuck

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 06:32 PM

Analyzing the NFL Draft Through Statistics and Film Study
Breaking Down the Metrics of Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Allen Robinson

Posted on November 12, 2013

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Matt Waldman has an interesting article (http://mattwaldmanrs...wide-receivers/) on scouting wide receivers and the role (or lack thereof) of analytics in scouting wide receivers. While I’m not looking at speed scores, broad jumps, or 3 cone times – I’m taking an analytic approach myself. Rather than predicting how a receiver is going to do in the NFL, I’m trying to show how a receiver was successful in college. Was he helped by his system? Did he display translatable skills in his collegiate game? Rather than use it predict wide receiver quality, we can use it to enhance our own knowledge while watching tape.

All games are hand charted by me. All of Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Mike Evans’ games are included in this study. I’m missing Allen Robinson’s Kent State and Minnesota games.

Where did they catch the ball?

The colors represent the amount of receptions relative to average. The darker the red, the less receptions the WR has in that zone. Opposite for green of course.

compstier2wrs.png?w=594

  • Allen Robinson belongs to the Sammy Watkins and Jordan Matthews’ school of screens. 30% of his receptions come behind the line of scrimmage, although his overall receptions are slightly better distributed than the two aforementioned WRs.
  • The two biggest deep threats in this class are clearly Odell Beckham and Mike Evans. Polar opposite in body types they may be, 66% of Beckham’s receptions come past 10 yards and Evans leads all wide receivers I’ve charted for 25.5% of his receptions past 20 yards. Hard not to like a 6’5” player in Evans that gets down the field at that rate.
  • While playing in the same offense as Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry’s targets couldn’t be different. While 66% of Beckham’s receptions were past 10 yards, 65% of Landry’s receptions were caught before the 10 yard line.

What did they do after they caught it?

 yactier2wrs.png?w=594

  • I didn’t think we were going to see many more yard after the catch averages like Sammy Watkins and Jordan Matthews, but apparently I was very wrong. Again, Allen Robinson is similar to Matthews in that he’s averaging around 8.5 yards after the catch. However when screens are out of the equation, that moves down to a below-average 5.1.
  • Mike Evans is a whole other story though. Despite a lack of screens and a considerable amount of routes breaking back the QB, he’s averaging an extremely impressive 8.5 yards after the catch. Combined with his group-leading average catch yard of 14.7 yards downfield, his yards after the catch paint a great overall picture.
  • Jarvis Landry’s 5.5 yards after the catch is a bit disappointing. Operating out of the slot nearly 50% of the time, LSU puts him in a position to gain good yardage on slants and posts but he just hasn’t been able to translate that into excellent yardage after the catch.

What did they do to catch the ball?

A new feature this year, I recorded the last break the receivers made on their route before they caught the ball. They could run a slant and go, all that would be recorded is the go route. However, it should give you a good feel for their diversity of routes (outside of screens). Slants are included with post/corner, it was just too bulky to put in the chart.

breaktier2wrs.png?w=594

  • With data from nine wide receivers, I’ve included the average break for the wide receivers. Interestingly it works out pretty evenly for every grouping at 29% except for fly routes which are run considerably less.
  • Beckham’s overall routes run are probably the closest to average we’ve seen so far. There’s not anything inherently good or bad about that, but it’s nice to see a WR with experience in every break type.
  • 41% of Evans’ final breaks are back to the QBs. I should stress, unlike most other WRs who are simply running a pre-determined routes – many of those are Evans working his way back to a scrambling Manziel. This probably hurts his overall YAC as he averages about 3 yards after catching comebacks.
  • I was a bit disappointed with Robinson’s non-screen YAC above, which may have been unfair. He’s rarely running post, corner, or slant routes which provide the greatest run after catch potential. Similarly, breaking back to QB on 45.5% of passes only nets him an average of 2.7 yards after each catch.

Other stats

  • Not much to worry about with hands or drops here. The biggest concern is Beckham who is right on the cusp of drops being a problem. The full list is as follows:
    • Beckham: 7.41%
    • Landry: 3.03%
    • Evans: 3.51%
    • Robinson: 4.55%
  • Allen Robinson is unusually lacking in red zone receptions. Only 4.8% of his receptions and 2.5% of his yardage have come in the red zone throughout the season. Despite his big frame, suited for red zone work – Evans is simply average near the goal line. 12.7% of his receptions have come inside the 20.
  • If you cap Robinson’s YAC at 20 for long runs, his overall yards after the catch drops by 22%. That indicates a high percentage of long receptions after the catch, but not necessarily a consistent ability to gain yardage.
  • Below I’m going to put up a chart demonstrating the wide receiver’s receptions in relation to the first down marker. Whether they gain the first down via yards after the catch, through the air, or didn’t make a first down. I’ve already hit my self-imposed limit of 1000 words, so I’ll leave it without description.

 firstdowntier2wrs.png?w=594

These are all underclassmen, so it’s likely that about half of this work won’t pay off. Yet, it’s worth it to get a comparison of the top potential talent in this draft rather than comparing late round guys. As always, follow on Twitter   for extra info/ updates on more posts. Thanks for reading y’all.



#171 DaCityKats

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 09:32 PM

great reads chuck. im also really starting to like Odell Beckham Jrs game for this offense.  deep threat, that runs routes on many different levels with improved hands.



#172 *FreeFua*

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:35 PM

Saw these awhile ago, some good stuff in there. Matthews drop rate stood out to me.

#173 carolina-chuck

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 11:11 PM

great reads chuck. im also really starting to like Odell Beckham Jrs game for this offense.  deep threat, that runs routes on many different levels with improved hands.

 

Thanks. I thought it was some really good stuff.

 

Odell Beckham's stock is rising quickly. The kid is a stud. There's question about his size but said that he has some huge hands that helps him make ONE HAND grabbed on "punt return". Never seen that happened before.



#174 carolina-chuck

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 11:18 PM

Saw these awhile ago, some good stuff in there. Matthews drop rate stood out to me.

 

I was intrigued seeing that Allen Robinson again had a 90+ rec season. But, what stood out to me was that 30.16% of his catches came of screens. Robinson is very explosive with the ball in his hands but its not really a down field threat. Between, Evans, Beckham, Landry, and Robinson, he has the lowest 20+Yards at only 12.7%.



#175 Captain Morgan

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 12:03 PM

Brandon Cooks of Oregon St. just declared...Burke ranks him 6th, just ahead of Benjamin.

 

 

6. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: His 2013 numbers are staggering — 128 receptions for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s smaller than the two guys listed just above him here, at 5-10 and 186 pounds, but he’s also more of a threat in the open field than either Robinson or Matthews. He can survive as an outside receiver. Put him in the slot with a couple other guys drawing attention, though, and he might be unstoppable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://nfl.si.com/20...wide-receivers/



#176 davos

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 07:51 PM

I still really like Jordan Matthews.  Think he could be damn good.  

 

He has that natural nack of seeking the throws while maintaining a smooth route.  Similar to Keenan Allen and Anquan Boldin in some ways but with a little more speed.  



#177 OnlyPantherFaninMaine

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 09:03 PM

Man oh man I would love Sammy Watkins to somehow land in a Panthers uniform this off-season but it won't happen. Him + Cam = Explosive TDs every Sunday.

#178 OnlyPantherFaninMaine

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 09:03 PM

He's about to put on a show in this Orange Bowl.

#179 ajax4132

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 11:16 PM

Watkins and Moncrief would be an absolute force



#180 Swan

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 11:19 PM

200+ yards, two tds so far. You are correct sir.