Matt Waldman has an interesting article (http://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2013/09/05/on-scouting-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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 Follow @NU_Gap for extra info/ updates on more posts. Thanks for reading y’all.