The 2018 Hall of Fame Game – The Players

The Hall of Fame (HOF) Game will be within two weeks. I consider it the unofficial start of the season. We get to finally watch some football. This year the game will be on Thursday August 2nd on NBC at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. The teams are the Baltimore Ravens versus the Chicago Bears. This will be the first time the Ravens have played in the HOF game. The Bears have been in four HOF games and have won each one. Here are some of the players that I think make the game interesting.

Tom Benson HOF Stadium-July2017
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
By BeautifulRiver1964 [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Chicago Bears

Bears head coach, Matt Nagy, will have his first game as a head coach. He was the Chiefs quarterback coach and offensive coordinator prior to being hired as the head coach on January 8, 2018. Nagy had been an offensive coordinator for only two years and had play calling responsibility in a regular season for only five games. The Chiefs did go 4-1 with Nagy play calling. Back when Nagy was a quarterback for the Blue Hens in 2000, assistant Brian Ginn would send in plays for the quarterback. Ginn noticed about 4 or 5 times a game the play run was not the one they sent in. Nagy would claim he messed up the signal. However it turned out the plays Nagy was changing were working. So Ginn started taking credit for changing the call even though he knew it was Matt.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky will be opening his second year. Trubisky had started the final 12 games of 2017 and the Bears went 4-8 for those games.    Trubisky passed for 2,193 yards, 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions for a completion percentage of 59.4% and a quarterback rating of 77.5. He had 248 yards rushing with an average of 6 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Trubisky had 10 fumbles of which 3 were lost.  Not the best stats but compared to other rookie quarterbacks they were middle of the road. To help the Bears added receiver Anthony Miller in the draft to go with  top receiver Allen Robinson. Trubisky will be implementing a new offense under coach Nagy.

Running back Howard Jordan has had twelve 100+ rushing games in his two year career. Per game that is 38.7% of his games which is third best among active backs over the last three seasons. Howard is the first running back in the history of the Bears franchise to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns. Off the field he is a spokesman for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation in Chicago. An organization dedicated to to educate and work for a cure for a respiratory disease that has a life expectancy of less than five years for those directly affected.  Howard’s father died from the disease when Howard was twelve years old.

Receiver Allen Robinson looks to bounce back from his injury lost 2017 season.  In 2015 over 23% of his receptions went for big plays (25+ yards), he scored a touchdown every 1.14 games, and he had six 100+ yard receiving games. “One of my No. 1 goals is to put on that yellow jacket. That’s where I want to be. I aspire to be a Hall of Fame player.” – Robinson.  Allen Robinson puts in the effort to get there. Prior to the 2017 season Robinson spent part of the off-season training with future Hall of Famer Randy Moss. Robinson never blamed the Jaguars from achieving his goal. That even though they were 11-37 during Robinson’s career. Speaking about who is throwing the ball Robinson says   “It won’t matter at all,” Robinson says. “You want to be in the Hall of Fame? You’ve got to make Hall of Fame plays.”

Hopefully we get to see rookie linebacker Roquan Smith. As of writing this post Smith still had not signed a contract and was holding out of training camp. Smith was the first linebacker picked in the draft with pick 8.  Roquan Smith had 85 solo tackles in 2017 which was a 16.6% solo tackle market share of his team’s solo tackles. It was the highest solo tackle market share in the FBS. Team market share measures the players production against the team production for the specific metric say solo tackles. The larger the market share the better. Per Football Study Hall, offenses only had a 33.6% success rate when tackled by Smith. “Great player. Really fun to watch because he can get to just about any play on the field and he’s only going to get better…” — AFC team personnel director

Tight end Ben Braunecker enters his last year of his 3 year rookie contract.  This season he needs to give the Bears reason to offer him a new contract. Making the 53 man roster is the first step. From his draft profile – “Physical and mean as a blocker. ” His combine numbers were top five across all events for tight ends. Braunecker graduated Harvard with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Yet in Braunecker’s words  “I would learn my best lessons not in the classroom, but on a football field.” The Harvard team he was on was 36-4 during his career and won three consecutive Ivy League championships “Being a part of this team has shown me that the Harvard athletic experience is much deeper than on-field performance or championship rings. It’s about integrating young, determined individuals of diverse backgrounds and buying into a philosophy, a culture, so that we can put aside what separates us and unite to achieve what we couldn’t alone.” (Written Senior Perspective).

Undrafted free agent running back Ryan Nall could be a hidden gem. Nall is very effective as a short yardage back. On 3rd down with 1-3 yards to go, Nall converted 78% of his career 37 attempts. In 2017 his success rate was 85% on 20 attempts. However Nall also has sneaky speed. Over his last two seasons he had had long runs of 89, 80, 75, 52, 45 and 40 yards. Nall also proved he can pound out the yardage having seven 100+ yard rushing games over two seasons. Nall has good hands and has 454 receiving yards over his last two seasons. According to Football Study Hall the Opportunity Rate for Nall was only 33.9% in 2017. That is percentage of carries in which the offensive line “does its job” and produces at least five yards of rushing for the runner. Nall achieved a 26% market share of his team’s yards from scrimmage at least once in his career.  Another plus is that Nall turned 22 years old on December 27. Nicknamed “Wrecking Nall” he is a force to take down at 6’2″ and 232 pounds. Check out his height and weight as compared to other backs.

Baltimore Ravens

Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor has overcome adversity to be a starting linebacker on the Ravens. In college after his redshirt freshman season he was kicked off the Arizona football team due to an arrest on gun and drug charges. The charges were ultimately dismissed. Onwuasor says the items were not his and attributes the ordeal to falling in with the wrong crowd. He got a second chance at Portland State where as a safety in his senior year he was second on the team in total tackles (85) and solo tackles (49). He led the team with nine interceptions. Patrick went undrafted in 2016 and signed with the Ravens. In his rookie season he played on 52% of the special teams snaps and led the team in special teams tackles with 11. In 2017 he played in 16 games and started 13 games. Onwuasor recorded 67 solo tackles and never had less than three solo tackles in the games he started. Throughout his career he has at various times been described as “I heard he was one of the hardest working, best athletes on the team in his time at Arizona..” – Portland Coach Burton, “He has a nose for the ball… He hunts the ball well” – Ravens Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg (2016) , and “…But what he does, he does 100 miles per hour, which is what we like.” – Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees (2017).  In two years at Portland Onwuasor got his degree in sociology in spite of working with a learning disability. He volunteered at camp Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp for people with varying disabilities and formed a bond with one of the campers.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson will make his rookie debut. Michael Vick has said “If I’ve ever seen another guy that looks like me, it’s been Lamar Jackson.”  , Vick is regarded by some as the best dual threat quarterback of all time. Jackson averaged 109 rushing yards per game. He had 50 career rushing touchdowns in just three years. That was third most in the FBS in 2017. Over his last two seasons Jackson had a quarterback rating of over 146 each season. He had 57 passing touchdowns to 19 interceptions. At the Ravens first public training camp practice they ran plays with multiple quarterbacks on the field at the same time. One play quarterback Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson both touch the ball. On the next play, Jackson and  Robert Griffin III both touched the ball. It will be fun to watch.

Linebacker Alvin Jones could be another hidden gem among undrafted free agents. In his sophomore season Jones had 48 solo tackles which was good for a 12% market share of the team’s solo tackles. In 2017 Jones had 102 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 19 run stuffs and three forced fumbles. Offenses had only a 29.7% success rate when tackled by Jones in 2017. Jones was a four-year starter who led UTEP in tackles in each of his final three seasons. According to draftanalyst.com Jones is an active linebacker who is constantly around the ball and makes positive plays.

Free safety DeShon Elliot was an unanimous All-American in 2017. He had fifty solo tackles, six interceptions, nine passes defended, 1.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Elliot’s sum of his market share for all five metrics (solo tackles, interceptions, passes defended, sacks and TFL) was ranked sixth among 2017 defensive players. Elliott is a hard-hitter and a sure tackler. He had only five missed tackles in 2017on 815 snaps. Scouts say he loves the game including the work that goes into it.

Cornerback Darious Williams is another potential undrafted free agent gem. Williams remained at UAB when the football program was shutdown for financial reasons following the 2014 season. He spent two years training and when the program started again in 2017 he was ready. In 2017 Williams had thirty-eight solo tackles, five interceptions, fifteen passes broken up, and four tackles for loss. He was credited with 5 run stuffs. His 20 passes defended was ranked fifth in the FBS.  His market share data sum for solo tackles, interceptions and passes defended ranks fourth among FBS defensive players. Darious Pro-Day results were showed his athleticism and speed. His numbers with equivalent combine rank are a 4.44 forty (9th), a 6.85 three-cone (10th) and a 39 inch vertical (2nd). “When you got all those things – smart, good person, good player, really intelligent player. He’s got all the attributes that they’re looking for.” – UAB head coach Bill Clark.

Every player has their story. These are just some that stood out to me.

2016 Undrafted Free Agents – NFC East

Continuing my prior post on the 2016 Undrafted Free Agents  where I covered the AFC East, today I’ll start with the NFC East.

The Cowboys have no remaining UDFAs from 2016.

Donte Deayon is a cornerback on the Giants. In college Deayon was selected to Mountain West All-Conference Second Team each of his last three years.  He was seventh and ninth in interceptions in the FBS for his sophomore and junior seasons.  Deayon was tied for third in FBS active career leaders in 2015 with a career 17 interceptions and he led in interceptions per game. He was also 5th in active career leaders with a career 43 passes defended. Deayon only allowed three touchdowns across 133 targets. He was invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl where he had an outstanding week.

One of four 2015 season Boise State banners. “The banners are not reserved for star players at star positions, but rather for players who best represent the team’s work ethic and values.” This was Donte’s 2nd straight year with a banner on Albertsons Stadium.

Deayon went undrafted most likely due to his size – 5’9 and 155 lbs. The Giants signed him following the draft. Donte did not play in 2016 his rookie year bust spent time on the practice squad. Donte has since upped his weight to 163 lbs. In 2017 he was promoted to the active roster October 12th. He played for 94 snaps as corner over 4 games and had 7 tackles with 6 solo tackles and one pass defensed.  Pro Football Focus gave him a 59.1 rating (poor). Donte suffered a fractured forearm and was placed on IR on November 27. “Pound for pound he’s the toughest guy on our team.” – Dominique Rodgers Cromartie about Deayon (2017)

The Giants drafted Sam Beal in the supplemental draft and signed UDFA Grant Haley.  In free agency they signed four cornerbacks. The Giants currently have 11  cornerbacks on the roster. Last season they had five corners on the 53 man roster and two on the practice squad. The only locks on the 53 man roster currently would be Sam Beal, Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple. If he does not make the 53 man roster, Donte would qualify for one more year on the practice squad.

Destiny Vaeao is a defensive tackle for the Eagles. He was born and raised in Pago Pago, American Samoa which is about 5,000 miles from California. According to a 60 Minutes report a boy born to Samoan parents is 56 times more likely to get into the NFL than any other kid in America. Football is their ticket out of a tough economy. Vaeao went to Washington State where he was a three year starter. in his senior year he was named to All-Pac-12 Second Team. His nfl.com draft profile has “Tough guy with desired motor.” He earned his degree in criminology in four years.  Vaeao was Pro Football Focus top graded player on Team National in the 2016 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Vaeao went  undrafted and was signed by the Eagles.

In his rookie year he played in 16 games , 26% of the defensive snaps and had  2 sacks and 9 tackles (3 solo).  In 2017 Vaeao played in 11 games, 22 % of defensive snaps, and had one pass defensed and seven tackles (3 solo). This even though he battled through a hand injury and surgery during the 2017 season. The Eagles did not draft a defensive tackle, but did sign undrafted free agent defensive tackle Bruce Hector and free agent Haloti Ngata. The front line starters will most likely be Haloti Ngata and Fletcher Cox.  Tim Jernigan is probably next on the depth chart. However Jernigan underwent surgery on a herniated disc in his back at the end of April and is expected to be out four months. There are seven defensive tackles on the Eagles roster. Vaeao will  compete against 2017 6th round draft pick Elijah Qualls for snaps.

Anthony Lanier is a defensive end for the Redskins. Lanier was a three sport athlete in high school – football, basketball and tennis. In college at Alabama A&M he played football and two years of basketball. He played in 47 games  and accumulated 38.5 tackles for loss. That was ranked 24th in active career leaders in the FCS for the 2015-2016 season. On nfldraftscout.com Lanier was ranked 71st out of 169 defensive ends for the 2016 draft and 934th among total prospects. He went undrafted and was signed by the Redskins.  Lanier made the 53 man roster his rookie season and played in four games. He registed only a fumble recovery on 48 defensive snaps. In 2017 Lanier again made the 53 man roster. In his second year Laniew played in 11 games, started 2 games, and played in 31% of the season’s defensive snaps. He registered 6 passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovered, five sacksand 11 tackles with eight of those solo. Lanier’s basketball skills probably help in him getting  five passes batted down. His five sacks was good for third on the team. This November 2017 Bleacher Report article identified Lanier as one of nine players with the most untapped potential. Lanier gives back to his hometown community of Savannah Georgia by conducting his second  Lanier’s summer youth football training camp in 2018.

The Redskins drafted defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne in the first round. Payne  probably would start as nose tackle. They also have  defensive ends Jonathan Allen and Matthew Ioannidis. Both of which project ahead of Lanier on the depth chart. Lanier will be competing against Stacy McGee and Ziggy Hood for for backup spots. However McGee is recovering from groin surgery and may not be ready for training camp. Hood has the advantage of having also played nose tackle.

If I were to name common trait(s) among these three players I would list humilty and a great work ethic. They appreciate the fact that they have to continuously learn. They absorb as much as they can from the veterans they work with. They put in that extra effort to get better. They will have their work cut out for them. For additional perspective there are only 30 undrafted free agents remaining from the 2015 draft class.

2016 Undrafted Free Agents – the remaining “Long Shots”

I got the idea of this post thinking about Giants cornerback Donte Deayon. Deayon was an undrafted free agent the Giants signed following the 2016 draft. When the Giants recently picked CB Sam Beal in the supplemental draft, I thought of Deayon and what that might mean to him. I like Deayon. He has a great attitude, was a ball hawk in college,  and has a great work ethic. His rookie contract is up after 2018 and he would be an exclusive rights free agent (ERFA). It gave me the idea to take a look at the undrafted free agent class of 2016. Many of their contracts shoud be expiring after 2018. Who of these “lonshots” are left? Who are they and what is their story? How are they doing? What are their chances to continue pursuing their dream?

According to the NFL Players Association the average length of an NFL career is 3.3 years.  The average goes up to six years for players that make the team’s opening day roster in their rookie season. It goes up to 7.1 years for players with at least three pension-credited seasons. A credited season is one in which the player spends at least three games on an active/inactive roster and/or injured reserve.

The 2016 draft class is entering their third year in the 2018 season. Following the 2016 NFL draft, approximately 476 undrafted free agents signed with an NFL team. Of those there are 105 UDFAs remaining on NFL rosters for 78% attrition. Based on player average career data, the 2018 season is a critical one for the 2016 draft class. Also it typically is the last year of their 3 year rookie contract. These are the guys the newest wave of rookies could be pushing out. Starting with the AFC East here are one 2016 UDFA from each team.

Reid Ferguson is a long snapper for the Buffalo Bills.  He is the sole UDFA signing from the 2016 class remaining on the Bills. Ferguson started snapping in eighth grade when his father encouraged him to fill in for his team’s injured snapper. In high school Ferguson started all four years as long snapper and guard. Reid studied under long snapping guru Chris Rubio. Rubio’s evaluation of Ferguson in high school included – “…Terrific work ethic”.  Coming out of high school he was rated as the number two  long snapper in the country. Reid went to LSU on a scholarship. That was considered a rarity at the time for a player that was strictly a long snapper. At LSU Ferguson was a four year starter at long snapper. In his four year LSU career he made 497 snaps and had only one errant snap and that was as a freshman. Ferguson made Phil Steele’s 2015 Postseason All-American First Team. Still Ferguson went undrafted in the 2016 NFL draft though one long snapper was drafted. Ferguson was signed by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in May 2016. Ferguson is the only long snapper listed on the Bill’s roster going into the 2018 season. He was not on the 2016 opening day roster but did make the 53 man roster in 2017. Ferguson will be an ERFA in 2019. Here you can see Ferguson showing his long snapper skills in some trick snaps.

Jonathan Jones is a cornerback on the Patriots. He is the sole UDFA remaining on the team from the 2016 draft class. In college Jones earned AP All SEC second team during his junior year coming in fourth in the nation in passes defended and ninth in interceptions. At the combine Jones came in first among cornerbacks in the forty and second in the bench press. His 10 yard split time of 1.47 seconds was in the 96 percentile. Jones battled through some injuries and a foot surgery in college.  But he worked hard and given a chance he produced. Yet Jones went undrafted with possible concerns about his history of injuries and his size (5’9″ and 186 lbs). Jones was signed as an UDFA and in 2016 carved out a role on the team using his amazing speed on special teams. He impressed Belichick with his coachability, toughness, competitiveness and speed. He also covers well. He gradually worked his way into the defense as a nickel corner and performed well. Jones has played 32 games the past two seasons and started in five. In 2017 he had 9 passes defended and one interception. In a 2017 game against the Dolphins Jones shadowed Dolphin’s receiver Jarvis Landry for the majority of the game. Landry is a receiver that Belichick has high regard for. Jones was in on 41% of the defensive snaps in 2017. Here is a graph of Jones combine results.

The Patriots drafted two cornerbacks – Duke Dawson in the 2nd round and Keion Crossen in the 7th round. They also signed UDFA JC Jackson. All are shorter corners and may compete with Jones for a slot cornerback position.

Jake Brendel is a center for the Miami Dolphins. As a senior on the offensive line in high school Brendel recorded 71 knockdowns, 31 finishes and allowed no sacks. He was ranked the as the 15th best center coming out of high school by rivals.com. In college, after redshirting his freshman year, he started every game all 4 years for a total 52 games. He became UCS’s all-time leader in games started. Brendel played in 92% of UCLA’s offensive snaps over the four year span. He was a three year co-captain, First-team Academic All-Conference, and last two years a second-team All-PAC-12 selection.  Brendel, a four year starter, stepped up to being a de facto player/coach his senior year when the offensive line coach was temporarily suspended. It is reported that Brendel had an excellent game at the Shrine Bowl. Yet he went undrafted. The Cowboys signed him as an UDFA but after getting hurt three weeks into the regular season the Cowboys released him. Brendel was signed by Miami in October of 2016. In 2017 Brendel played in all 16 games and participated in 7% of Miami’s offensive snaps and 20% of the special teams snaps. He filled in for Mike Pouncey when Mike suffered a concussion in the Atlanta game. Jake played well and had a key role in Jay Ajayi’s two 18-yard runs on Miami’s final drive. The Dolphins did not take a center in the draft.

Lawrence Thomas is a fullback on the Jets. Thomas was ranked as the #5 inside linebacker in the nation coming out of high school y rivals.com. Thomas went to Michigan State. He finished his Michigan career with 27 consecutive starts on the defensive line playing defensive end, nose tackle and defensive tackle. He also had three starts his redshirt freshman season as fullback. His senior year he made honorable mention All-Big Ten(coaches) and was invited to the Senior Bowl. Thomas went undrafted and was signed by the Jets following the draft. During the 2017 season Thomas made an in-season switch from defensive lineman to fullback.  He played in 14 games and recorded 6 receptions for 43 yards. He has impressed the staff as a consistent blocker. Thomas was in on 15% of the offensive snaps, 31% special teams and 2% on defense.  The Jets signed fullback Dimitri Flowers as an undrafted free agent following the 2018 draft giving Thomas competition. Thomas was awarded the Ed Block Courage award in 2017. This years recipients were 32 NFL players elected by their teammates and peers who overcame adversity in order return to the field. Thomas it seems was for the in-season switch from defense to fullback.

Well I hope you enjoyed the post. Drop me a comment to let me know either way. If there is a 2016 UDFA that you would like covered let me know.

 

2018 NFL Top Running Backs

Today I take a look at who are the top running backs going into the 2018 season. Following the approach taken on my posts on the top receivers, I will again draw the line at 16.6% of the current backs would be the top ones. That gives a nice rough 1 in 6 backs would be in the top.  Currently there are 140 veteran running backs on NFL rosters. In addition there are 52 rookies on NFL rosters. Of the veterans the 16% would mean 23 top backs.

To examine the prospects I took the performance statistics for the last three seasons. That goes back far enough so it is not overly influenced by a peak last season but still maintains a recent sample. Two areas will be examined – the rushing statistics and the receiving statistics. The rushing statistics I used are

  • Percent of games that were 100+ yard rushing games
  • Percent of first downs achieved to total rush attempts
  • Games to touchdowns ratio
  • Percent of Fumbles to rushing attempts
  • Percent of Big Plays to rushing attempts. A big play is a rush of 10+ yards.
  • Percent of Stuffs to rushing attempts. A stuff is a rushing attempt that is held to zero or negative gain.
  • Rushing Yards per game
  • Rushing Yards per attempt
  • Long rushing play.
  • Yards per Stuff.

More teams now use the pass play to a running back as a designed play or a relief valve under pressure. I have weighted the pass play at roughly a third less important than the rushing play.  For the pass evaluation I used the same criteria used in the wide receiver evaluations. They are

  • Yards after the Catch (YAC) per reception
  • Percent of 100+ receiving games to total games
  • Percent of first down receptions
  • Catch percentage or Receptions to Targets
  • Yards per target
  • Games to receiving touchdowns ratio
  • Yards per reception
  • Drops and Fumbles to targets
  • Receiving Yards per game
  • Percent of Big Plays to Receptions. A big play is a reception of 25+ yards.

With receptions the data can be skewed on a small sample size to look good. To avoid this I limited credit on receiving data for running backs that averaged less than an arbitrary number of receptions per game, 1.6 to be precise. I placed a similar limit of the Percent of Big Plays when using a low number of receptions.

Here are the results of the top 23 running backs going into the 2018 season.

AFC East

AFC East Running Backs
AFC East Running Backs

LeSean McCoy, of the Bills, has the sixth best 100+ yard games percentage of active NFL backs with 32.6% of his games going 100+ over the last three seasons.  His yards per game of 76.7 yards is ranked seventh.

Bilal Powell, of the Jets, had a 75 yard touchdown run in 2017, good for 2nd longest touchdown run in Jets franchise history. It was tie for sixth best long run among current NFL players over the last three seasons.

Isaiah Crowell, of the Jets, had an 85 yard touchdown run against the Ravens in 2016. That was the 2nd longest in Browns history and ranked tied for third longest over the last three seasons for current NFL players. Of current players no one had a lower fumble percentage (0.51%) with more attempts (589) over the last three seasons.

Frank Gore, of the Dolphins, is working out in the off-season with his incredible work ethic. It has allowed him to achieve 12 straight seasons since his rookie season of a minimum 1,200 yards from scrimmage each year. That, his drive and his toughness have helped Frank to play 112 consecutive games. Frank has averaged 61.5 rushing yards per game over the last three seasons. That is 15th best among active running backs.

AFC North

AFC North Running Backs
AFC North Running Backs

Giovani Bernard, of the Bengals, has a 28.5 receiving yards per game over the last three seasons. That is ranked 10th among current NFL players. In 2017 Bernard had 458 rushing yards with an average of 4.4 yards per carry. Only ten running backs had more yards with a better average. Bernard is a well rounded back. He also had 389 receiving yards with an average of 9.0 yards per reception. Only four other backs had more yards with a better average.

Le’Veon Bell, of the Steelers, has the 2nd most receiving yards per game (42.6 yards) over the last three seasons among current NFL players. He has the most receptions per game (5.58) in that time-frame for current players. As for rushing he is ranked second in 100+ games/game with 39.4% of his games going 100+ yards. This among active NFL players. Bell is also second among active NFL backs in rushing yards per game averaging 94.4 yards/game over the last three seasons.

AFC South

AFC South Running Backs
AFC South Running Backs

Lamar Miler, of the Texans, has had 4 fumbles on 700 attempts over the last three seasons. No current player has a better fumble rate with that many carries. Miller had an 85 yard rushing touchdown in 2015 which was tied for third among active NFL backs over the last three seasons. That run was second in Miami franchise records for long rushing plays. Lamar also owns first in Miami records for the longest rushing play of 97 yards set in 2014.

Leonard Fournette, of the Jaguars, had five 100+ yard rushing games in his rookie season. He had 38.5% of his games were 100+ yard rushing games. That was ranked 4th among current NFL running backs for over the last three seasons. His 80 yards per game was ranked fifth among current backs over the last three seasons. His 90 yard touchdown run against the Steelers is the longest run among active running backs over the last three seasons. Fournette had 9 rushing touchdowns in 13 games for a 1.44 games to touchdown ratio. That ranks third among active running backs averaged over the last three seasons.

Dion Lewis, of the Titans, has a 26.3% first down conversion rate on rushing attempts over the last three seasons. That ranks at seventh among active backs with a minimum 10 carries. Lewis’s 13% big rushing plays (10+ yards) to attempts ranks eight among active backs with minimum 100 carries over the past three seasons.

AFC West

AFC West Running Backs
AFC West Running Backs

Kareem Hunt, of the Chiefs, has six 100+ yard rushing games in his rookie season. This was good for a 37.5% ratio of 100+ games per game. It ranked fifth among active NFL players as  averaged over the last three seasons. Kareen had 3 receiving touchdowns which earned a games to receiving touchdown ratio of 5.33. That was tenth best among active backs over three seasons. His receiving yards per game of 28.4 is ranked eleventh of a three season average.

Melvin Gordon, of the Chargers, has a three year average yards per game of 63.8 yards which is ranked 13th among active running backs. His 87 yard rushing touchdown in 2017 is second longest among active running backs over three seasons.

NFC East

NFC East Running Backs
NFC East Running Backs

Ezekiel Elliott, of the Cowboys, has led the NFL over the span of his two year career in yards per game with 108.7 yards per game. He leads active running backs in 100+ rushing games per game with 48% of his games being 100+ yards. His two year games to touchdown ratio of 1.14 leads all active running backs averaged over the last three seasons.

Chris Thompson, of the Redskins, has a three season games to receiving touchdown ratio of 4.88. That ranks seventh among active NFL running backs. Thompson’s 510 receiving yards in 2017 ranks sixth among active NFL running backs. Thompson’s average of 5.2 yards per rushing attempt over the last three seasons ranks seventh among active NFL running backs with minimum 40 attempts.

NFC North

NFC North Running Backs
NFC North Running Backs

Jordan Howard, of da Bears, has twelve 100+ rushing games in his two year career for 38.7% of his games. This ranks third among active NFL running backs over a three year period.  His 78.5 yards per game ranks sixth over a three year period. Howard has had two fumbles in 528 rushing attempts. Among active running backs over the last three seasons he has the least fumbles for backs with over 400 attempts.

Ty Montgomery, of the Packers, converted from a wide receiver to a running back in his 2nd year in 2016. In his 1st year as running back Ty had a banner year with 457 rushing yards, a 5.9 yard average, 3 rushing touchdowns, a 61 yard long play, 12 big plays of 10+ yards, one 100+ rushing game and a 26% 1st down conversion rate. Ty is moving from “winging it” to understanding techniques and reading gaps and defensive fronts. In 2017 Ty was injured and played in only 8 games.

Latavius Murray, of the Vikings, has a combined 3 season 1.77 game to rushing touchdown ratio which is 8th best among active running backs. Murray ran a 4.38 forty at his pro-day in 2013. That would have been 3rd best among running backs at the combine. Murray was ranked as the third best running back in pass protection during 2016.

NFC South

NFC South Running Backs
NFC South Running Backs

Devonta Freeman, of the Falcons, has eight 100+ rushing games over the last three seasons. That is the tenth best 100+ games to game ratio among active backs.  His games to rushing touchdown ratio of 1.55 is fifth best. Freeman’s yards per game of 66.7 yards is ninth best. Freeman’s 75 yard touchdown run in 2016 against the Saints is tie for sixth longest over the last three seasons among active backs. Freeman’s 30 receiving yards per game is eighth best among active backs.

C.J. Anderson, of the Panthers, while not excelling in any specific metric, he performed good on all rushing metrics and decent on the passing ones. Anderson had a good 2017 season breaking 1,000 rushing yards and 1,200 yards from scrimmage. I will leave Anderson with this highlights of his 2017 season – NFL.com videos _ Anderson 2017 highlights.

Christian McCaffrey, of the Panthers, had a receiving yards per game of 40.7 yards which was ranked fourth among active backs over the last three seasons. His 5 receiving touchdowns in 2017 made a games to touchdown ratio of 3.2. That was tie for first among active running backs over the last three seasons. His 45% receiving first down conversion rate was third for active backs with over 100 targets over the past three seasons. His rushing numbers are not as impressive but in his rookie season on 177 attempts he did have a long of 40 yards, 8 big plays (10+ yards),  two rushing touchdowns, an average of 3.7 yards and only one fumble.

Mark Ingram, of the Saints, has 18% of his games being 100+ rushing yards. That is ranked ninth among active backs over the last three seasons. His 1.83 games to rushing touchdown ration is tenth. With 601 rushing attempts over the last three seasons, Ingram has the lowest stuff per attempt ratio (7.15%) for any active back with over 300 attempts. His 66.7 rushing yards per game is ninth best. Ingram’s 4.9 yards per attempt ranks tied for 9th among active backs with minimum 40 attempts. Ingram’s 2016 touchdown run of 75 yards against the 49ers is ranked tied for sixth among active backs over the last three seasons. Ingram has had a long rushing play of 70+ yards in each of his last three seasons.

Looking at all active running backs average over the last three seasons, Alvin Kamara, of the Saints, in his rookie season has a rushing first down conversion percentage of 33% which is ranked third. His rushing big play (10+ yards) per attempt ratio of 22.5% is ranked fourth. On his 120 rushing attempts Kamara’s 6.67% stuffs per attempt is ranked fifth lowest among backs with a minimum 20 attempts. Kamara’s 6.07 yards per rushing attempt is ranked fourth. Besides being a top rusher  Kamara’s receiving skills are also tops. Among active backs he had the most receiving yards (826 yards) in 2017 and the second most over the last three seasons. His receiving game per touchdown ratio of 3.2 games was tied with McCaffrey for first. His 51.6 receiving yards per game is ranked first. His receiving big play (25+ yards) per reception ratio of 8.6% is ranked ninth.

NFC West

NFC West Running Backs
NFC West Running Backs

Even though David Johnson, of the Cardinals, missed all but one game in 2017 due to a dislocated wrist he still makes the top backs list based on his three season performance.  Johnson’s 1.38 games to touchdowns ratio is ranked second. His 54% receiving first down conversion rate on his 122 receptions leads all active backs with a minimum 20 receptions. Johnson’s 4.13 games to touchdown ratio is ranked fifth.  His 11.5 yards per reception ratio is ranked fifth among active backs with a minimum 20 receptions. His 42.5 receiving yards per game ranks third.

Todd Gurley, of the Rams, averages 29.6 receiving yards per game which ranks ninth among active backs. His 10.16% big plays to receptions ratio ranks seventh. One fourth of his games are 100+ rushing yard games which ranks seventh. His 1.52 games per rushing touchdown ratio ranks fourth. Gurley’s 74.9 rushing yards per game ranks eighth.

Data Backup

I have included the data sheet I used in evaluation for those that may be interested. One sheet has the player’s total list of score summaries. The top 23 players are highlighted by yellow in column B. Two other sheets has three seasons of data on the players followed by columns of calculations for evaluation criteria.  One is for rushing data and the other for receiving data. At the top is a line showing the average value for the evaluation criteria. Each player has a line for the season denoted by year. This is followed by a line for the Summary of the three season average. The average line is followed by a line denoted by Score in column A. That Score line is a score summary line computing how far the player’s average is from the baseline by a percentage calculation. The Score line is summed and those are the totals on the summary sheet. There are two other sheets containing the Summary lines only for each player. These can be sorted by the evaluation criteria to see where a player ranks in relation to other players.

Using the data I avoid putting to much emphasis on the results. Specifically the scores. The exercise was to help systematically come up with a top 16% of current running backs. It is more for a verification with data of what is generally reported on the player’s skills. I would not use the scores as a “ranking” of those top receivers. Although it was useful to tweak the calculation to arrive at a list that looks reasonably accurate.

If you are interested I have attached the data here – Running Back Data.

NFL Top Wide Receivers 2018 – Part 2 NFC

Today I continue the second part of the top wide receivers heading into the 2018 preseason and the teams they are on. We now cover the NFC as the AFC was covered in the prior post. From the 274 veteran wide receivers currently on rosters I selected 16% as the cutoff line for the top wide receivers. That comes to 44 receivers. I have slightly modified my selections since the AFC post and will go back and update that. Currently I have 20 receivers selected as top receivers in the NFC.

With the tables below I highlight the top receivers in yellow and the rookies in green.  Rookies were not considered in this exercise.  Although I do note some rookies that I find as interesting prospects but they are not considered in the top receivers. You can click on the table to open it into a larger display for better visibility. At the bottom of each team table I have a count of the number of non-rookie players and an average of the age column.

For my selections I looked at performance metrics for over the last three seasons combined. I felt on one year is not a good enough sample size but three should give a good sample of relatively recent performance. For first and second year players I used what was there. Those players were not penalized for being new and their data was compared to the three year average for the older players.

Here are the performance metrics used and a baseline for each that was considered the line between average and good performance.

  • yards after catch (YAC) per reception (4.6 yards)
  • 100+ games per total games (16%)
  • 1st downs per receptions (63%)
  • receptions per targets (63%)
  • yards per targets (8.32 yards)
  • games per touchdowns (3.1 games per 1 touchdown or less)
  • yards per receptions (13.3 yards)
  • drops and fumbles per targets (4% or less)
  • yards per game (60 yards)
  • big plays(25+ yards) per receptions (12%)

The baseline was used to calculate how close each player’s three year average was to the baseline. I used a per game or reception/target qualifier on most to better compare players without rewarding players that had more opportunities. I did penalize players that did not meet some minimum receptions numbers and also others that were heavily weighted to a good 2015 performance but did poorly since.  The latter caused me to remove Brandon Marshall from consideration. Though his numbers were good for the three year average he had done poorly in the last two.

Here are the results for the NFC.

NFC East

NFC East Wide Receivers
NFC East Wide Receivers

Allen Hurns, now with the Cowboys, was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the fourth most efficient receiver in 2017 in getting first downs with 50% of his targets getting a first down.  Over the last three seasons his 1st down to receptions ratio was above 65% each season with two seasons being above 70%. Hurn’s 2015 season was outstanding excelling in 9 of 11 receiving metrics including a 1.5 game to touchdown ratio. Over 3 seasons and 274 veterans currently on rosters only a total of 21 player seasons accomplished a 1.5 ratio or better.

While Odell Beckham, of the Giants, does not have the most receiving touchdowns over the last three seasons, he does have the top games to touchdowns ratio among players currently on NFL rosters. Beckham has scored a touchdown on average every 1.35 games.

Alshon Jeffery, of the Eagles, is adept at picking up first downs. His 1st down to reception ratio over the last three seasons is 78.5%. Among wide receivers currently on rosters that is the third best. He was above 77% each of those three seasons.

Jamison Crowder, of the Redskins, had the 14th best catch percentage (68.6%) over the last three seasons. Crowder is one of only 13 wide receivers currently on NFL rosters that over the last three seasons have a yards after the catch of 5.68 or more with a minimum of 50 receptions.

The Cowboys selected Michael Gallup in the 2018 NFL draft. Gallup posted a 39% market share of his team’s receiving yards to passing yards in one of his college seasons. Gallup ranked fifth in receiving yards in his college senior year with 1,413. He was a combine top performer among wide receivers in the vertical jump (9th), broad jump (11th) and 60 yard shuttle (12th).

The Redskins selected Mr Irrelevant with the last pick of the draft – Trey Quinn. Quinn was ranked  11th in receiving yards in his 2017 college season. He had posted a 32% market share of his team’s receiving yards one of his college seasons. Quinn was ranked fourth in receiving touchdowns in 2017 in college with 13. Trey posted a 74% catch rate and a 56% success rate in a season in college.

NFC North

NFC North Wide Receivers
NFC North Wide Receivers

Allen Robinson, now of da Bears, is looking to bounce back from injury in 2018. Robinson had a monster year in 2015 in which over 23% of his receptions went for big plays (25+ yards), he scored a touchdown every 1.14 games, and he had six 100+ yard receiving games. Over the past three seasons for players currently on rosters only seven had a season with a big play to receptions ratio of better than 23% for minimum 32 receptions. None had more receptions on those big play seasons than Robinson’s 80. The next closest was Brandin Cooks with 65 receptions for his season.

Technically, over the past three seasons no other receiver has had more targets and a higher catch rate than Golden Tate of the Lions. I say technically because Larry Fitzgerald has had significantly more targets but his catch rate is a fraction lower. Doug Baldwin is also in that group with less targets than Tate but a tenths of a better catch rate. Of the forty-four receivers I selected as the top receivers, Tate has the fourth best YAC/Reception ratio at 6.67 yards.

Marvin Jones, of the Lions, excels in getting the big play. Of wide receivers currently on rosters only two had more big plays (25+ yards) than Jones in 2017. Jones was tied with three other receivers at 15 big plays. Over the past three seasons his combined big play total of 33 is topped by only seven wide receivers currently on rosters.

Kenny Golladay, of the Lions, was off to a good start his rookie season.  Golladay’s big plays (25+ yards) per reception of 25% is ranked third among wide receivers currently on rosters with minimum 10 receptions in 2017.  He is sure handed having zero drops and zero fumbles. His 17 yards per reception ranked 7th in the NFL for wide receivers with minimum 10 receptions. His 9.94 yards per target ranked 13th among wide receivers with minimum 10 targets. Among the 274 veteran wide receivers currently on rosters of those with minimum 10 receptions in 2017, only 12 had a better YAC per reception than Golladay’s 6.39 yards. Golladay needs to improve his catch rate (58%) and get more targets (48) in 2018. (YAC is yards after the catch.)

Davante Adams, of the Packers, has the seventh best games to touchdown ratio at 1.84 of all wide receivers currently on rosters for the last three seasons. Combined touchdowns for only the last two seasons Adams led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 22.  Adams had a YAC per reception over 4.6 yards for each of the last three seasons. He was one of only 15 receivers currently on rosters to accomplish that.

Adam Thielen, of the Vikings ,had the 15th best catch percentage (68.3%) over the last three seasons. Thielen was one of only five wide receivers currently on NFL rosters that had 3 or more 100+ yard games in each of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Adam was one of only 20 wide receivers currently on NFL rosters that had at least 12% of their receptions go for big plays (25+ yards) for each of the last two seasons. Over the last two season Thielen’s yards per target of 9.59 was ranked sixth among wide receivers with a minimum 50 targets. Thielen is one of thirty wide receivers currently on NFL rosters that had 63% or more of their receptions go for a first down for each of the last two seasons for receivers with a minimum 11 receptions per year.

Stefon Diggs, of the Vikings, is a sure handed receiver. He is one of four wide receivers currently on rosters that had a 1% or better fumble rate, a drop rate of 1.73% or better and a catch rate of 65% or better over the last three seasons for receivers with a minimum of 20 receptions. The Vikings had the highest team contested catch rate in 2017 and it was led by Diggs with his 64% contested catch rate.

The Vikings picked up Korey Robertson as an undrafted free agent following the 2018 NFL draft. Robertson posted a 36% team market share in receiving yards one of his college seasons. In his last college season Robertson was ranked 17th in receiving yards (1,106 yards), 8th in receiving touchdowns (12), and posted a very respectable 9.5 yards per target , a 65% catch rate and and a 52.5% success rate.

NFC South

NFC South Wide Receivers
NFC South Wide Receivers

Julio Jones, of the Falcons, is one of three players in my top forty-four that have averaged in the 40 percentile for 100+ yard games over the last three seasons. Two of those three seasons he broke 100+ in half or more of his games. The other two are Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham (discounting his injured 2017  season). Over the past three seasons Julio’s yards per target average of 9.84 is ranked third among wide receivers with a minimum 30 targets. He was topped only by two rookies that did it only for one year -JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kenny Golladay. over the past three seasons Jones has the second highest receiving yards per game among wide receivers with 102.7.

For each of Ted Ginn‘s last three seasons both his ratios of big plays to receptions and his yards to receptions were above the average baseline in each season. Of the veterans on rosters only 15 players accomplished that feat. Ginn’s yards/receptions average of 15.09 yards was 16th in the league over that time-frame. Ginn is a fast receiver and clocked a 4.38 forty at his pro-day.

Over the last two seasons no wide receiver has a better combined catch percentage (72.6%) with more targets (270) than Michael Thomas, of the Saints. For combined rookie and second year since 2000 Michael Thomas is ranked 1st in receptions (196), 4th in receiving yards (2,382) and 7th in yards per game (76.8).

Over the last three seasons combined no wide receiver currently on an NFL roster with a minimum of 10 receptions had a better first down percentage (82.6%) than Mike Evans of the Buccaneers. Over the last three seasons Evan’s 76.7 receiving yards per game ranked seventh.

Over the past three seasons DeSean Jackson, of the Buccaneers, has had 136 receptions with a 1.26% drop percentage and 0% fumbles. Of the wide receivers currently on NFL rosters only Pierre Garcon had better numbers related to receptions and drops/fumbles. Over the past three seasons Jackson’s 16.2 yards per reception ranked seventh among wide receivers with a minimum of 50 receptions.

Over the last three seasons of wide receivers currently on an NFL roster, Chris Godwin’s 1st down conversion percentage of 79.4% ranks second for receivers with a minimum 10 receptions. In 2017 Godwin’s 9.55 yards per target ranked 10th among wide receivers with a minimum 25 targets. In 2017 among wide receivers currently on NFL rosters only three receivers had zero drops and zero fumbles like Godwin but with more receptions than Godwin’s 34 receptions. Godwin’s 15.44 yards per reception ranked 12th in the NFL last season for wide receivers with a minimum 30 receptions.

The Saints picked Tre’Quan Smith in the 2018 NFL draft. Smith posted a 31% team market share of receiving yards one of his college seasons. In his last year in college Smith ranked 4th in receiving touchdowns(13), 12th in receiving yards (1,171 yards) and 15th in yards per reception (19.85). He had good numbers in yards per target (13.6 yards), catch rate (68.6%) and success rate (60.5%).

NFC West

NFC West Wide Receivers
NFC West Wide Receivers

Over the past three seasons no wide receiver has had more targets (456) with a higher catch percentage (71.3%) than Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals. For wide receivers currently on NFL rosters with over 120 targets in that time-frame only Pierre Garcon had a better drop percentage than Fitzgerald ‘s 1.1%.

In 2017 Brandin Cooks, of the Rams, was tied for third among wide receivers currently on rosters for number of big plays (25+ yards) with 15. He is one of only four wide receivers on rosters that have over 40 big plays over the past three seasons. The others being Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton and Julio Jones. Over the past three seasons Brandin’s 70.7 yards per game ranks eleventh among all active receivers.

Over the past three seasons, Cooper Kupp, of the Rams, has the tenth best YAC per reception ratio (5.92) among wide receivers on rosters with minimum 50 receptions. Cooper Kupp’s catch percentage of 66% ranks 15th for active wide receiver rookies over the last five seasons (minimum 25 targets), his 9.24 yards per target at 14th and his 5 touchdowns as 16th.

Doug Baldwin, of the Seahawks, over the past three seasons has the highest catch percentage (71.8%) for wide receivers with over 300 targets. Over that time-frame Baldwin scored a touchdown on average once every 1.66 games. This is the fifth best Touchdown ratio for players currently on NFL rosters. Of the eleven categories evaluated, Baldwin’s average excelled in nine. In six of those nine he excelled for each of the last three seasons.

Following the 2018 NFL draft the 49ers signed undrafted free agent Steven Dunbar. Dunbar posted a 30.7% team receiving yards market share one of his college seasons. His senior year in college he broke 1,000 yards receiving and posted respectable numbers for yards/catch (14.1), yards/target (9.6) and catch rate (67.9%).

Data Backup

I have included the data sheet I used in evaluation for those that may be interested. One sheet has the player’s score summaries. The top 44 players are highlighted by yellow in column A. The other sheet has three seasons of data on the players followed by columns of calculations for evaluation criteria (See part II of the post for list of criteria).  Cells exceeding the criteria baseline are highlighted in yellow. Each player has a line for the season denoted by year. This is followed by a line for the three season average. The average line is followed by a line denoted by an S in column A. That “S” line is a score summary line computing how far the player’s average is from the baseline by a percentage calculation. The S line is summed and those are the totals on the summary sheet.

The calculation was tweaked to combine data on fumbles and drops into one category. This was because using them separate distorting the results to overly favor “sure-handedness”.

Using the data I avoid putting to much emphasis on the results. Specifically the scores. The exercise was to help systematically come up with a top 16% of current receivers. It is more for a verification with data of what is generally reported on the player’s skills. I would not use the scores as a “ranking” of those top receivers. Although it was useful to tweak the calculation to arrive at a list that looks reasonably accurate.

Three year receiver performance data

Top NFL Wide Receivers 2018 – Part 1 AFC

This is an update of an earlier post. After the original post I then posted the NFC receivers. In doing so my evaluation criteria became more refined and I came up with changes to the total 44 top receivers. This is that update. Changes are in italics and at the end of each division I list the changes made for that division.

This is the first part of a two part post in which I look at the receivers in the NFL and specifically identifying the top wide receivers in the league and how  they are dispersed across the teams. In determining top receivers I focused on their combined numbers for the last three seasons. In cases where two receivers were close I put a little more emphasis on their last year. However I was more than willing to overlook a down year and not greatly penalize for one bad year. I also did not penalize the new guys. I treated all receivers on an equal starting ground and if a new guy had one or two years of good performance he was treated the same as the veterans.

Included are pictures of tables showing the teams. I highlighted the top receivers in yellow and all rookies are highlighted in green. Rookies were not considered in this evaluation.  I only note for some exceptional rookie picks.  Each team table is sorted by years experience and a total number of veterans are noted under the Player column. Under the Age column is the average age for the receivers on the team. The tables pictures are a little hard to read but you can click on them to open them up into an easier to read display.

The football rosters are pretty set in preparation for the start of preseason. There are 274 wide receivers listed on team’s rosters. In choosing my top receivers I had to draw the line somewhere. So I decided to use 16% as the line. I figure 16% roughly translates to one in six receivers and so I consider the top 16% to be the top receivers. This translates to 44 of the 274 receivers on rosters.

Today I start with the AFC receivers. Twenty-three of the forty-four top receivers were in the AFC. I will work on the NFC post and have that up in the next or two.

AFC East

AFC East Wide Receivers
AFC East Wide Receivers

For the span of his NFL career Kelvin Benjamin, of the Bills, has had 19 receiving touchdowns from 2014 thru 2017. Kelvin ranks 30th in the NFL among active wide receiver for receiving touchdowns over that time period. This was accomplished in spite of missing the 2015 season due to a torn ACL in August of that year. Benjamin has a career first down percentage of 71.2%. According to fivethirtyeight.com, Benjamin leads receivers  in average yards gained per route run in the fourth quarter and his average of 23.3 fourth-quarter receiving yards ranks fourth.

Robby Anderson of the Jets is a rising talent. Last season he accounted for 27% of his team’s receiving yards, the highest percentage. He was tied for eleventh in the league for big receiving plays (25+ yards) with ten. In 2016 he also had ten big plays for thirteenth most in the league. Anderson has great speed and lists as the 3rd fastest forty for wide receivers in the 2016 draft class.

Kenny Britt, of the Patriots, has had 15% or better of his receptions go for 25+ yards for each of the last three seasons. He is one of only twenty-one current players with a minimum of two years that accomplished that. His three year average of 18.55% for big plays is sixth best among my top 44 receivers. His three year combined yards per reception average of 15.44 is ranked 14th in the NFL among active wide receivers with a minimum 30 receptions for that time-frame.

Chris Hogan, of the Patriots, has a reputation for being able to get open. Maybe that’s why he has also done well in yards after the catch (YAC). Over the past three seasons he has averaged 4.8 YAC. He had a breakout season in 2016 where he averaged 6.55 YAC on 38 receptions which was 8th best for wide receivers with a minimum 10 catches. That year his yards per target was 11.72 yards – the tops for wide receivers with minimum 10 catches. His 17.9 yards per reception led the NFL. In 2016 21% of his receptions were for big plays of 25+ yards which was ninth best among wide receivers with a minimum 10 receptions. From a Belichick interview – “He’s one of our best players, (and) again, another hard working guy that’s tough. …”

Kenny Stills, of the Dolphins, is a speedster that can take the top off a defense. Of the top receivers I have looked at his last three season average of 18.1 % big plays to receptions is in the top five. Big plays are receptions of 25+ yards. Stills is 3rd on the NFL active leaders list for yards per reception with 16.1 yards. His 20 yards/reception in 2013 led the NFL.

Removed: Julian Edelman

Added: Kenny Britt, Kelvin Benjamin

AFC North

AFC North Wide Receivers
AFC North Wide Receivers

A.J. Green, on the Bengals was selected for the Pro Bowl all seven years of his career. Green has a career games to touchdown ratio of a touchdown every 1.78 games. Of the top 20 active wide receiver career leaders for receiving touchdowns  only Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham have a better ratio.

After the Brown’s Josh Gordon’s  incredible 2013 sophomore season he was listed 13th on the Receiving Yards Single Season Leaders list,  was selected to the Pro Bowl, was named First-Team All Pro and was designated number 16 on the 2014 NFL Top 100 list.  That’s what amassing 1,646 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns in 14 games will do for you. . That was followed by three years lost to suspensions and substance abuse issues. He came back for the last five games of 2017 and finished the season leading the Browns in yards per game and 100+ receiving games(1). His 335 season receiving yards was fifth on the team. He had 18 season receptions with an average of 18.6 yards which was third best in the league for over ten targets. The team is saying all the right things commending his work ethic, how hard he works on and off the field and having an awesome mindset.

Jarvis Landry, now on the Browns,  over his four year NFL career has 400 receptions and a combined season catch rate of 70.2%.  The 400 receptions is the most by any player in  their first four seasons. The  catch rate is sixth best among all active receivers averaging 10+ yards and with a minimum 80 targets over that time frame. Last season Landry’s 112 receptions led the NFL and his 69.6% catch rate was 14th best in the league for over 50 targets. Landry has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the last three of his four year career.

Antonio Brown , of the Steelers, has been voted 1st Team All-Pro each of the last four years and selected to the Pro-Bowl six of his eight year career. Brown is a two time NFL receptions leader and two time NFL receiving yards leader including last year with 1,533 yards. Over the last four seasons Brown has a game to touchdown ratio of 1.39 which is second only to Odell Beckham.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, of the Steelers, made the NFL and the sixth best All-Rookie team in 2017. He led rookie receivers in receiving yards (917) , longest reception (97T),  receiving touchdowns (7), 20+ yard plays (12) and 40+ yard plays (6).  His long reception led the NFL and he had a kickoff return for a touchdown. His catch percentage of 73.4% was third best in the NFL among wide receivers with 70 or more targets. Smith-Schuster has the top combined season yards per target number for wide receivers with over 30 targets (11.61 yards).

The Steelers pick of James Washington in the draft should be a nice continuation of a very good receiver corp. Washington looks like a great deep threat. He had outstanding numbers in college for his senior year in yards (1,544), touchdowns (13), yards per catch (20.9) and yards per target (13.2). I have him listed with a top level success rate of 57.3% which measures the percentage of plays that were successful in terms of yards gained.

Removed: Willie Snead

AFC South

AFC South Wide Receivers
AFC South Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins, on the Texans, has been in the top twenty in the NFL for 1st down percentage each of the last three seasons.  He is one of only three players to currently hold that distinction. He has converted on 71.9, 71.8 and 74.8% of his receptions over those years. Over these last three seasons Hopkins had the third most receiving touchdowns (28) and the sixth best games to touchdowns ratio (1.68).  Hopkins led the NFL in 2017 in receiving touchdowns.

Will Fuller, of the Texans, ranked tied at 14th among NFL wide receivers for receiving touchdowns (7) in 2017. He did that playing in only 10 games and with 50 targets. No other wide receiver scored that many or more touchdowns in 2017 with less opportunity. The next closest would be 7 touchdowns by Sammy Watkins in 15 games and 70 targets. Fuller’s game to touchdown ratio in 2017 was 1.43.  Over his two year career Fuller has a 69.3% first down to receptions percentage with a 75% ratio in 2017.

T.Y Hilton, on the Colts, led the NFL in receiving yards in 2016. According to Pro Football Focus since 2013 Hilton has the second most receiving yards on deep passes. On receptions of 25+ yards Hilton has been 7th in 2017 (11), 1st in 2016 (16), 6th in 2015 (14), 1st in 2014 (17), 23rd in 2013 (9) and 12th in his rookie year in 2012 (11). He excels in 100 yard games also. In his six year career spanning 2012 thru 2017 he has had 28 hundred plus yard games. In that time-frame only Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas have had more. In his six years he has been in the top ten in the NFL for yards per reception four of those years and has a career average of 15.8 yards.

Keelan Cole, of the Jaguars, had 21.4% of his receptions for for a big play (25+ yards). That was 14th best among the 274 active veterans. Cole’s YAC per reception of 6.69 yards was ranked 15th among the active veterans on rosters. His 17.81 yards/reception was 14th in the league. Cole’s 1st down to reception ratio of 76.2% was 8th best among currently active NFL wide receivers with a minimum 20 receptions in 2017. Cole finished his rookie year with an NFL-leading 186 receiving yards and a touchdown in week 15, including a 73-yard reception to the 1 yard line. That 75 yard reception was tied for tenth longest reception among currently active NFL wide receivers.

Rishard Matthews, on the Titans, has the tenth best combined season reception yards per target (9.38) over the last three seasons for wide receivers with minimum 50 targets. Since joining the Titans he has accounted for 25% and 23% of the Titan’s receiving yards the last two seasons. Matthews is a tough runner and good at getting yards after the catch (YAC). Over his last three seasons his YAC totals accounted for 30% of his receiving yards. In 2017 his YAC per reception of 5.15 yards was twelfth best among wide receivers with a minimum of total 39 yards after catch.

The Jaguars picked D.J. Chark in the second round (61st pick) of the 2018 draft and signed Allen Lazard as a free agent. Both were good values. Chark is a deep threat and excelled in the Reese Senior Bowl with a game-high 160 yards on 5 catches. Lazard is a big receiver that was projected to go in the 5th round by nfldraftscout.com.  He is a red zone threat and is fourth on NCAA active career leaders for receiving touchdowns.  Both Lazard and Chark were top performers at the combine for vertical jump and bench press among receivers. Chark was also the top receiver in the 40 yard dash.

Added: Will Fuller, Keelan Cole

AFC West

AFC West Wide Receivers
AFC West Wide Receivers

Emmanuel Sanders, of the Broncos, is a tough receiver not afraid to go over the middle, take a hit and fight for the first down. Sanders has said his goal is always to get a first down. “Anything after that is all positive, but I just try to get a first down. Ten yards, and whatever happens after that, happens.” Of the 16% top receivers I have noted Sanders is in the 31% of those that have achieved an above average 1st down percentage for each of the last three seasons. In that time-frame of  his 202 receptions 64.85% have gone for 1st down. Likewise he has had 10-15% of his receptions go for big plays of 25+ yards for each of the last three seasons.

Sammy Watkins, now with the Chiefs,  was eighth in receiving touchdowns in 2017. Over the last three seasons Watkins is tenth for games to touchdowns ratio achieving  on average a touchdown every 1.89 games. In 2017 Watkins first in the NFL in first down conversion percentage achieving an 84.6% conversion on 39 receptions. He has a career average conversion percentage of 73.4% on 192 receptions.

Tyreek Hill, of the Chiefs, has in his two year career had catch percentages of 73.5% on 83 targets and 71.4% on 105 targets. That was good for 8th and 7th for NFL wide receivers. In that time-frame only one other wide receiver made the top ten more than once. That was Mohamed Sanu at tenth and ninth. Hill was one of only 13 wide receivers to break 1,000 yards receiving in 2017 and that in his 2nd year.  There are only 28 active receivers that broke 1,000 yards in either their first or second year.

Speedster Travis Benjamin, of the Chargers, was tied for first at his combine in the 40 yard dash among wide receivers. He uses that speed to break out on the deep ball. According to Pro Football Focus, in 2017 on passes that traveled 40+ yards in the air, Phillip Rivers had the 3rd best passer rating when targeting Benjamin. In 2017 Benjamin’s 20.6% big play/receptions ratio was 7th best among current NFL wide receivers with a minimum 20 receptions. Benjamin’s three season average of 5.36 YAC/reception is ranked 13th among my top 44 wide receivers.

Keenan Allen, of the Chargers, was named 2017 NFL AP Comeback Player of the Year following an impressive 2017 season after coming back from two season ending injuries. Keenan suffered a lacerated kidney in a 2015 November game that ended that season. On his return in 2016 Keenan in the first game he suffered a torn ACL that ended the 2016 season. Coming back in 2017, in NFL receiving Allen was fourth in receptions (102), third in yards (1,393), fourth in yards per game (87.1), eleventh in yards after the catch (499), eleventh in receptions of 25+ yards (10),  second in 100+ yard games (7), first in 1st downs  (74) and twelfth in 1st down percentage (72.5%). It was as good or better performance as four years prior when he made the NFL All-Rookie Team. In 2017 Allen was selected for the Pro Bowl. Discounting his 2016 season, in which Allen only played one game, Allen has made the top twenty for 100+ yard games every season with a total of 18 games of 100+ yards . Over the last three seasons Allen achieved a 68.6% catch rate.

Tyrell Williams, of the Chargers, was signed as an undrafted free agent in May of 2015. In the 2016 season, after Keenan Allen went down for the season in the season opener with a knee injury, Williams was promoted to the third wide receiver.  He made the most of this opportunity and had a 1,059 yard season with seven touchdowns.  His 13 plays of plus 25 yards was ranked fifth in the NFL. In his three year career Williams has excelled in big plays (25+ yards) achieving  18.4% for big plays to receptions.  Of 56 top receivers only three had a better ratio – T.Y. Hilton, Robby Anderson and DeSean Jackson. In 2017 his 16.9 yards/reception was 4th in the NFL. His combined yards/reception for the last three seasons of 16.46 is ranked 11th among active wide receivers with a minimum  25 targets for that time-frame. For the time-span of his career, Williams’ 9.73 yards per target is ranked fifth among active wide receivers with a minimum 25 targets. Over the last three season Williams’ 7.55 YAC per reception leads all top receivers covered in this two part article. Tyrell is tall, has great speed and an outstanding work ethic.

Jordy Nelson, now with the Raiders, was named 2016 NFL AP Comeback Player of the Year after returning in 2016 from an ACL injury in week 2 of the 2015 season. In 2016 Nelson led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with fourteen. Over the last three seasons Nelson has a combined games to touchdown ratio of one touchdown every 1.55 games. For that time-frame that is the third best ratio beaten only by Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown. Nelson made the NFL top ten for 100+ yard games for the two years prior to his lost 2015 season and for the year back in 2016 when he was 4th. Nelson has a total of 19 games of 100+ yards receiving.

Amari Cooper, of the Raiders, is fast and runs great routes. Cooper was in the top seven wide receivers at the combine for the forty (7th), 3-cone(5th) and 20 yard shuttle (1st). Amari had two breakout season’s his first two and got selected to the Pro Bowl for both. He was the ninth player in NFL history with 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons. Then he had a big downturn in 2017 and finished with just 680 yards but still had 7 touchdowns. Amari can haul in the big play and finished ranked 2nd in 2016 with 15 receptions of 25+ yards. In his first two seasons he ranked 7th and then 6th in 100+ yards games. Amari struggled in 2017 playing hurt for much of the year.

Added Travis Benjamin

I hope you have enjoyed this post and if so check toward the end of next week for the second part on the NFC wide receivers.

Data Backup

I have included the data sheet I used in evaluation for those that may be interested. One sheet has the player’s score summaries. The top 44 players are highlighted by yellow in column A. The other sheet has three seasons of data on the players followed by columns of calculations for evaluation criteria (See part II of the post for list of criteria).  Cells exceeding the criteria baseline are highlighted in yellow. Each player has a line for the season denoted by year. This is followed by a line for the three season average. The average line is followed by a line denoted by an S in column A. That “S” line is a score summary line computing how far the player’s average is from the baseline by a percentage calculation. The S line is summed and those are the totals on the summary sheet.

The calculation was tweaked to combine data on fumbles and drops into one category. This was because using them separate distorting the results to overly favor “sure-handedness”.

Using the data I avoid putting to much emphasis on the results. Specifically the scores. The exercise was to help systematically come up with a top 16% of current receivers. It is more for a verification with data of what is generally reported on the player’s skills. I would not use the scores as a “ranking” of those top receivers. Although it was useful to tweak the calculation to arrive at a list that looks reasonably accurate.

Three year receiver performance data

AFC Quarterback Padawans

This is Part 2 of a previous post on the NFC quarterbacks. Here we continue to look at the new AFC quarterbacks that were acquired in 2017 or 2018 from the draft or as undrafted free agents.  The team rosters are pretty much set concerning quarterbacks following the OTAs and minicamp. When preseason training camps open at the end of July, I will post updates on how these new quarterbacks are fairing or add any ones brought in from the 2017 or 2018 draft classes.

It is interesting to see how the college quarterbacks transition to the NFL. The recent release by the Raiders of Christian Hackenberg was addressed by comments from coach Jon Gruden.  Gruden bemoaned the limited off-season practice time allotted to coaches to develop new quarterbacks. He went on to say “It really depresses me how we can’t spend more time with these young quarterbacks, and it is really going to be an impactful situation on the NFL in the future.” He had referred to the collective bargaining agreement that placed restrictions on offseason practices. But I diverge, so here are the new AFC quarterbacks.

 

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Starter: AJ McCarron (Age 27)
Veterans: None
Rookies/Second Year:

Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh) – 2017 Round 5 draft pick. Nathan’s first three years in college he was redshirted and then a backup at Tennessee. After three years he transferred as a graduate transfer to Pittsburgh. At Pittsburgh he got to start after two games. In his two years as starter at Pitt he finished 8th in career passing yards (5,142), 9th in single season passing yards (2,855), 6th in career passing touchdowns (47), 5th in career completion % for over 180 attempts (61.1%) and 2nd in pass efficiency rating (151.1). Nathan led the highest-scoring offense in Pitt history in 2016 (532 points) and finished that year the ACC leader in Pass Efficiency (163.4). In 2017 Nathan became the backup for Tyrod Taylor. In week 10 Nathan made his debut against the Saints with 5 minutes left in a losing game. Trailing 47-3, Peterman completed 7 of 10 passes for 79 yards and one touchdown in the loss. In week 11, Nathan was named the starter as Taylor had been struggling. In this his first career start Nathan threw five interceptions in the first half and was relieved by Taylor. In week 14, Nathan again started against the Colts due to an injury to Taylor. He completed 5 of 10 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. He suffered a concussion and had to leave the game in the 3rd quarter. The Bills went on to win. On January 7, 2018 Peterman was brought into the Bills Wild Card game with 1:43 remaining due to an injury to Taylor. Nathan converted two first downs but then threw a game ending interception. The Bills lost 10-3. In scouting reports Peterman is recognized for strengths in anticipation, quick release and good pocket presence. Some reports noted that a gun-slinging attitude and his anticipation can get him in trouble. According to ESPN’s Mike Rodak, Peterman is a serious contender for the Bills starting quarterback and has been sharing first team reps with McCarron.

Josh Allen (Wyoming) – 2018 Round 1 draft pick. Josh Allen will open training camp as the third-string quarterback. He will have to earn his reps behind AJ and Peterman. Allen took reps with the first team in mini-camp and the players liked what they saw. Some compliments thrown around are – strong arm and very intelligent. At the combine Allen threw a pass about 70 yards down field. At the Senior Bowl, one of Allen’s throws was clocked at 66.14 mph. No throw at the NFL Combine has ever been clocked at faster than 60. His combine events showed great athleticism coming in 1st among quarterbacks for broad jump and vertical and 2nd and 3rd for 3-cone and forty respectively. He is also recognized for good mobility, making plays on the run and being tough to catch and bring down. Allen is fast becoming a fan favorite by doing things like stopping to take wedding pictures with a wedding party he saw at New Era Field.

Miami Dolphins
Starter: Ryan Tannehill (Age 29)
Veterans: Brock Osweiler, Bryce Petty, David Fales
Rookies/Second Year: None

New England Patriots
Starter: Tom Brady (Age 40)
Veterans: Brian Hoyer
Rookies/Second Year:

Danny Etling (LSU) – 2018 7th round draft pick. Danny’s first two years at Purdue he went 2-10 as a starter. The last game of his freshman year he threw for 485 yards and 4 touchdowns in a loss. After his sophomore year he transferred to LSU and had to sit out a year due to NCAA rules. In his junior and senior seasons at LSU, Danny started the final 23 games of his LSU career posting a 16-7 record. For his LSU career, Danny ranked among the Top 10 in LSU history for passing yards per game (No. 3 at 191.1 yards per game), completion percentage (No. 6 at 59.7 percent), passing yards (No. 8 at 4,586), and completions (No. 9 at 325). Danny does not turn the ball over. His LSU 1:77 interceptions to attempts ratio ranks second in the history of the SEC for quarterbacks with at least 500 attempts. In his senior year Danny had 2 interceptions. Danny graduated with a 3.9 grade point average in mass communications. He also achieved Eagle Scout status as part of the Boy Scouts. Besides protecting the ball, Danny is also known for throwing a good deep ball and a quick release.

New York Jets
Starter: Josh McCown (Age 38)
Veterans: Teddy Bridgewater
Rookies/Second Year:

Sam Darnold (USC) – 2018 Round 1 draft pick. Darnold’s college record as a starter is 20-4. As a two year starter Sam made USC record lists as 7th in career passing yards (7,229), 1st in season passing yards (4,143) and 4th in single game passing yards (453). He was 6th in career passing touchdowns (57), 8th in single season touchdowns (31) and appeared three times on the top ten single game touchdowns scoring 5 touchdowns in three different games. Sam was 2nd in career completion percentage (64.9), 3rd in career yards/attempt (8.5) and 4th in career pass efficiency rating (153.7). His redshirt freshman season he was 9th in the FBS for completion percentage (67.2) and Passing Efficiency Rating (161.1). His 4,143 passing yards in 2017 was 5th best in the FBS. Word from Jet’s camp is that they have thrown the whole playbook at him and he has been able to handle it. Sam will start training camp third on the depth chart but one team source says Sam has a real chance to open the season. Sam turned 21 years old on June 5th. If he opens the season he would be the second youngest NFL quarterback to start going back to 1960.


AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Starter: Joe Flacco (Age 33)
Veterans: Robert Griffin III, Josh Woodrum
Rookies/Second Year:

Lamar Jackson (Louisville) – 2018 Round 1 draft pick. It will be exciting to see Jackson play. His statistics from college are insane. As a quarterback at Louisville he not only holds the school career rushing yards record (4,132) but he also holds the career rushing average for over 100 attempts (6.3 yards). Add in the career rushing touchdowns school record (50), twice on the top ten single season rushing touchdowns and two games with four rushing touchdowns each. He is obviously a rushing dual threat quarterback. However he also holds a place on Louisville record books for passing. He is 7th in completion percentage with over 250 attempts (57), 4th in career passing yards (9,043), 4th in career passing yards/attempt for over 250 attempts (8.3 yards), 5th in career passing touchdowns (69) and 4th in career passing efficiency rating for over 50 attempts (142.9). He is twice on the top ten list of single season passing touchdowns and twice on the top ten list for single game passing touchdowns with games of 6 and 5 passing touchdowns. He won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, AP Player of the Year (2016) and was a Unanimous All-American (2016) just to name a few. Ravens linebacker CJ Mosley says “Once he gets out of the pocket, it’s like watching a young Michael Vick…”. The Ravens are looking at getting Lamar involved this year maybe even using a two quarterback formation.

Cincinnati Bengals
Starter: Andy Dalton (Age 30)
Veterans: Matt Barkley, Jeff Driskel
Rookies/Second Year:

Logan Woodside (Toledo) – 2018 Round 7 draft pick. Logan grew up a fan of the Bengals and is quite happy to have been drafted by them. He had a prolific career at Toledo. Logan holds the school record for career passing yards (10,514), career yards/attempt (9.0), career passing touchdowns (93), career passing efficiency rating (162.9), single season passing yards (4,129), single game passing yards (505), single season passing touchdowns (45), and single game passing touchdowns (6). In 2016 he was 4th in FBS for completion percentage (69.1) and first in passing touchdowns (45). In 2016 Woodside threw at least three TD passes in every regular season game, and threw four or more in six consecutive games. His career passing efficiency (162.9) was second in the FBS in 2017 and twelfth all time. His career completion percentage (65.1) was third in the FBS in 2017. Woodside was named the 2017 MAC Offensive Player of the Year. In his three years starting at Toledo Logan went 29-9 and led the team to three bowl appearances. Logan is recognized for being an accurate passer, having a quick release and pocket mobility. At the combine he ranked in the 78th percentile in the 3-cone drill and 83rd percentile in the 20-yard shuttle. He has always played with a chip on his shoulder having been overlooked in college offers, discounted for his size (6’2″) and level of competition. Logan was one of two quarterback candidates for the 2017 Senior Class Award honoring senior student-athletes in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.

Cleveland Browns
Starter: Tyrod Taylor (Age 28)
Veterans: Drew Stanton
Rookies/Second Year:

Brogan Roback (Eastern Michigan) – 2018 UDFA. Brogan has good arm strength and distributes the ball around well. His accuracy needs work as well as limiting turnovers. In his five years at EMU he started 35 games with a 10-25 record. In EMU records Brogan is third in career completion percentage (58%), second in passing yards (8,624), second in adjusted yards/attempt (6.3), first in passing touchdowns (57) and fourth in passing efficiency rating (123.2).

Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) – 2018 1st Round draft pick. Baker Mayfield made FBS career record lists (since 1956) for 4th in Passing Touchdowns (131), 3rd in Passing Yards/Attempt (9.8), 2nd in Pass Efficiency Rating (175.4), 11th in Pass Completion Percentage (68.5) and 7th in Passing Yards (14,607). He broke Oklahoma passing records in Completion %, Yards per Attempt and Passing efficiency Rating. In Passing Yards and Passing TDs he was second only beat by Landry Jones. He is recognized for being tough, competitive, a leader, accurate, mobile to extend plays and elite in the red zone to name a few. Tyrod Taylor is the Browns starting quarterback. The Browns have indicated that they want Taylor to start as long as possible, and Mayfield to get some time to develop. “I wasn’t brought here to just start,” Mayfield said. “I was brought here to help turn things around. Whatever my role is, that’s what I’ll do. ”

Pittsburgh Steelers
Starter: Ben Roethlisberger (Age 36)
Veterans: Landry Jones
Rookies/Second Year:

Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee) – 2017 4th Round draft pick. Dobbs is a very athletic quarterback. At the combine Dobbs ranked in the 93rd and 94th percentile for the 3-cone and the broad jump respectively. He also was 85th percentile on the forty and 70 percentile on the vertical. Those percentiles are for all quarterbacks since 1999. Dobbs finished his Tennessee career with a 23-12 record (including 3-0 in bowls) as starting quarterback, tying for the fifth-most wins by starting quarterback. Joshua had 85 career total touchdowns which was second in school history behind only Peyton Manning. For the school single season total TDs Joshua tied Manning at 39 TDs for first place. For career total offense Joshua has third place (9,298 yards), second and sixth place for single season total offense and has four games on the record list of the top ten single games total offense (all over 400 yards). Dobbs has third place in school career rushing TDs (32). He is fifth in Tennessee history for both career passing yards and passing touchdowns. Dobbs is fifth in school history for career completion percentage for over 150 attempts (61.5%). Dobbs is a dual threat quarterback, has a passion and fever for football and is driven to perfect his game. He has a quick release , good pocket poise and works through his progressions. Tennessee University presented Dobbs with the 2017 Torchbearer Award, the highest honor for an undergraduate student, which recognizes accomplishments in the community and academics. Dobbs graduated with an aerospace engineering degree and a business minor. In high school Dobbs was an exceptional high school scholar athlete with a 4.0 GPA and graduated with 13 years of perfect attendance.

Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State) – 2018 3rd Round draft pick. The winningest quarterback in Oklahoma State history. Led the Cowboys to a 32-9 record as a starter. Finished his career holding no fewer than 54 school records, including single-season and career marks for passing yards, passing touchdowns and pass efficiency … His 13,618 career passing yards ranks fourth in Big 12 history … His career mark of 324.2 passing yards per game is third in Big 12 history … Among FBS quarterbacks active in 2017, he ranked in the top three in passing yards per completion, passing yards per attempt, total passing yards, passing yards per game, total offense and total offense yards per play … OSU’s most active player in community service activities.1 Offensive coordinator, Randy Fichtner, said “Mason’s been everything we’ve asked, for sure,Throws, obviously, a nice ball. The physical things are all there. ” Ben Roethlisberger comments about Rudolph – “He’s got a big arm, He overthrew [Antonio Brown] even though AB’s not going to admit it. He seems to understand the offense, seems to not have any issues in the huddle, so I thought he did really well.”


AFC South
Houston Texans
Starter: Deshaun Watson (Age 22)
Veterans: Brandon Weeden, Joe Webb, Stephen Morris
Rookies/Second Year:

Deshaun Watson (Clemson) – 2017 Round 1 draft pick. On November 2, 2017 Deshaun Watson tore his ACL ending his rookie season. He had played in 7 games and started in 6. His rookie season Watson was second among quarterbacks (over 50 attempts) in average yards per attempt (8.3 yards), second in 1st down % (41%) and third in passing efficiency rating (103). He broke many records including tied most passing TDs in a single game by a rookie (5), most passing TDs in a calendar month by a rookie, tied most passing passing TDs by a rookie in one half (4), first player in NFL history to pass 400+ yards, 4+ TD passes, and 50+ rush yards in a single game, tied most TD passes through a quarterback’s first six career NFL games (15) and longest streak of games with 3 or more passing TDs by a rookie (4). He made PFWA 2017 All-Rookie Team. This rookie season followed an impressive college career in which he won MVP of the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, was a two-time recipient of the Davey O’Brien Award -one of only four quarterbacks who can make that claim, and was a two-time winner of the Manning Award. At Clemson he compiled a 32-3 record as a starter, best winning percentage in school history for a quarterback. Watson is praised for his work ethic, leadership, big-game poise – having ‘it’ factor. Watson participated in the Texans OTAs and minicamp this year and practiced without a knee brace.

Indianapolis Colts
Starter: Andrew Luck (Age 28)
Veterans: Jacoby Brissett
Rookies/Second Year:

Brad Kaaya (Miami) – 2017 6th Round draft pick. A three year starter at Miami, Brad stated all games as a true freshman and went 6-7. He was named ACC Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year by both ASCMA and Coaches. Brad’s final record at Miami was 22-16. Brad’s standing in the Miami record book2 is third in Completion % (60.6), first in passing yards (9,968), second in yards/attempt (8.4), third in passing TDs (69) and third in passing efficiency rating (146.2). Brad is recognized for a quick release, a high football IQ and throws a good ball in a clean pocket. Scouting reports questioned his accuracy under pressure and he did not demonstrate a threat as a running quarterback in college.

Phillip Walker (Temple) – 2017 UDFA. Phillip Walker was born in Elizabeth NJ and went to Elizabeth High School. At Temple Walker is the Owls all-time leader in wins by a starting quarterback (28), passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions, attempts, total yards and total touchdowns. Phillip lead the Owls to their first conference title in 49 years (2016) and their first ever back-to-back bowl appearances in school history (2015 and 2016). Walker went 28-19 as a starter with each year improving with two Bowl games and the final year winning the conference championship. Walker was awarded a single digit jersey his senior year which are awarded to the team’s toughest players as voted on by the players. Throughout his Temple career, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Walker has played through several injuries – a separated shoulder, an ankle that blew up like a balloon, and there were many other bumps and bruises that he accumulated as a four-year starter. Yet he started 47 consecutive games since earning the starting job midway through his freshman year. In the final game of his Temple career sometime in the 1st quarter Walker injured the right ring finger of his throwing hand. The finger had gone all the way up into his hand. It appeared to be broken. He pulled it back into place and continued playing. Walker kept competing and fighting as his team, once behind by 24 points, got to within five with under four minutes left. They wound up losing 26-34. Two months after being signed as an UDFA by the Colts in May 2017 this is what head coach Chuck Pagano had to say about Walker – “He’s an undersized guy, and you want a 6-2, 6-3 guy, but he can spin the ball,” Pagano said. “He’s a smart guy. He picked things up really well. Like I said, we sent Brian up there to work him out really late in the process. I think a Tuesday or a Wednesday before this draft started on Thursday and he came back and just fell in love with the guy. Identified him on tape, our scouts had him on tape but fell in love with him. He had great command out there of the huddle. He took charge. He picked things up really quick and made some nice throws out there.”

Jacksonville Jaguars
Starter: Blake Bortles (Age 26)
Veterans: Cody Kessler
Rookies/Second Year:

Tanner Lee (Nebraska) – 2018 Round 6 draft pick. In his college career Lee was 10-23 as a starting quarterback over three years. His first two years were at Tulane where he went 5-14. He then transferred to Nebraska and after sitting out 2016 due to NCAA rules he went 4-8 in his 2017 season. In the two years at Tulane, Tanner made 9th on Tulane record career passing yards (3,601) and 10th on career passing TDs (23). In his one season playing at Nebraska, Tanner made 3rd on single season passing yards (3,143) and appeared twice on the schools single game passing yards top ten with games of 431 and 399 yards. However Tanner had a career attempts to Interception ratio of 28.1 and a TD to Interception ratio of 1.2. Both poor ratios concerning turnovers. Even though Tanner had a poor win-loss record and issues with turnovers scouts are impressed with his strong arm.

Tennessee Titans
Starter: Marcus Mariota (Age 24)
Veterans: Blaine Gabbert
Rookies/Second Year:

Luke Falk (Washington State) – 2018 Round 6 draft pick. Luke had a record breaking career at Washington State. He is known for being an accurate passer. His completion percentage has been in the top five in the FBS each of his last three seasons. His career completion percentage is ranked 13th in the FBS since 1956. His career passing efficiency rating of 142.8 sets a Washington State record and was 12th in the PAC-12 since 1956. In addition to excellent accuracy Falk excels in intangibles such as work ethic, toughness and leadership. Luke is deadly in the red zone. He is tenth among FBS career leaders since 1956 for passing touchdowns (119), twice made the top ten in the FBS for season passing touchdowns, and set the Washington State record for passing touchdowns. Of his 119 passing touchdowns 80 came from within the red zone. Over his last three years at Washington State Falk had a completion percentage of 60.3% and a passing efficiency rating of 169.1 in the red zone.


AFC West
Denver Broncos
Starter: Case Keenum (Age 30)
Veterans: Paxton Lynch
Rookies/Second Year:

Chad Kelly (Mississippi) – 2017 Round 7 draft pick. Kelly was selected with the final pick of the 2017 draft making him Mr. Irrelevant. Chad’s uncle is Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Chad had a bad end to his college career at Clemson with an argument with coaches, off field fights, and injury. Kelly transferred to Ole Miss where he had two good years before a torn ACL sidelined him for the final 3 games of 2016. Kelly has a quick release, makes quick decisions, has a strong arm and has been referred to a a gunslinger or “baller”. At Ole Miss Kelly has career records of second in completion percentage (64) and third in passer efficiency rating (152.3). He is third all time in passing yards and passing TDs. Kelly’s issues and injuries from college plunged his draft stock but General manager John Elway drafted Kelly based on Jim’s recommendation. Kelly redshirted his entire rookie 2017 year on injury. He was leading the rookies in this year’s rookie minicamp.

Kansas City Chiefs
Starter: Patrick Mahomes II (Age 22)
Veterans: Chad Henne, Matt McGloin
Rookies/Second Year:

Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech) – 2017 Round 1 draft pick. In week 17 of the 2017 season with a playoff spot secured the Chiefs started Mahomes for his debut. He helped lead the Chiefs to a victory over Denver 27-24. Mahomes is recognized for a very strong arm and can make throws with velocity and accuracy. Patrick also has a strong work ethic. In Texas Tech career records Mahomes is third in passing yards (11,252), first in adjusted yards/attempt (8.8), third in passing touchdowns (93) and fourth in passing efficiency rating (over 100 attempts) with 152. He is four times on the Texas Tech passing yards top ten records list with games of 734 (1st), 598 (5th), 586 (6th) and 540 yards (10th). His 734 yard passing game tied the FBS record. Mahomes also threw 5 touchdowns in the game loss (66-59) to Oklahoma. “Someone told me (about tying the passing record) in the locker room,” Mahomes said. “But, like I said, we didn’t win the game, so it really didn’t matter.” At the combine Mahomes scored in high all time percentile for 20 yard shuttle (93%), 3-cone drill (84%) and broad jump (73%).

Chase Litton (Marshall ) – 2018 UDFA. Chase was 20-14 in his starts at Marshall. Litton displays good arm strength, quick release and a good ability to analyze defenses. He throws well on the move and is technically sound in the pocket. Processing speed post-snap and turnovers have been raised as concerns. In Marshall records boo Litton is fourth in passing yards (8,335), passing yards/attempt (7.0), passing touchdowns (72) and passing efficiency rating (133.9).

Los Angeles Chargers
Starter: Philip Rivers (Age 36)
Veterans: Geno Smith, Cardale Jones
Rookies/Second Year:

Nic Shimonek (Texas Tech) – 2018 UDFA. Perseverance, patience, a strong work ethic, confidence, a competitive spirit and a team attitude – coupled with a strong arm and decent accuracy – those are the traits that got this one year college starter onto an NFL roster. A fifth year senior, Shimonek sat behind CJ Beathard Nic’s freshman year at Iowa, transferred to Texas Tech sitting out his 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules, and spent two years on the depth chart behind Patrick Mahomes. For his 2016 season Nic was the backup to Mahomes and saw some limited play in four games finishing with 464 yards and six touchdowns through the air on 38-of-58 passing (65.5%) . In 2017, his first year starting, Nic played in all 13 games starting 12 and helped lead his team to the Birmingham Bowl. He finished his senior year in the Texas Tech record book as fourth in Completion Percentage (66.4), thirteenth in yards (4,445), third in adjusted yards per attempt (8.6)3, tenth in passing touchdowns (39) and third in passing efficiency rating (153.2). Shimonek reunited on the Chargers with his Texas Tech WR Dylan Cantrell. The two even played together in an All Star game in high school.

Oakland Raiders
Starter: Derek Carr (Age 27)
Veterans: Connor Cook, EJ Manuel
Rookies/Second Year: None


¹ Oklahoma State Roster (http://okstate.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3940)
² Miami records of minimum 100 passing attempts.
³Texas Tech passing records minimum 50 attempts
(Note: I apologize to all not into Star Wars. A Padawan is a young Jedi in training usually with a Jedi Knight or Master. Mitch Trubisky is like Luke SkyWalker – a trainee thrust into battle)³

NFC Quarterback Padawans¹

There were a total of 27 quarterbacks drafted or signed from the 2018 draft class. Thirteen were drafted and 14 signed as undrafted free agents (UDFA). According to nfldraftscout.com the five year draft average for quarterbacks is twelve. Five quarterbacks were drafted in the first round. You have to go back to the 1999 draft for the prior draft for 5 or more first round quarterbacks. Twenty-four of the thirty-two teams took a quarterback either drafted or UDFA. The Cardinals, Browns and Cowboys took two.

Here is a breakdown of the quarterback situations of each team. This is part one that looks only at the NFC. I will be adding part 2 for the AFC in the near future. This breakdown focuses on the 2018 rookies and second year quarterbacks. I wanted to see who are these new quarterbacks, what is their story, and what competition do they face to make it in the NFL. After I add part 2 on the AFC, I plan to follow these quarterbacks thru the offseason and preseason and finally up to the cutoff dates to see who makes the teams and who may get to start. I hope you you enjoy the article and check back for updates.

NFC South
Tampa Bay Bucanneers
Starter: Jameis Winston (Age 24)
Veterans: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin
Rookies/Second Year:

Austin Allen (Arkansas) – 2018 UDFA. Austin is the brother of Rams backup quarterback Brandon Allen. Austin went to the same college as Brandon and was his backup for two years. Austin had an outstanding junior year in 2016. He was number 1 in the SEC in passing yards (3,430) and passing yards per attempt (8.6) . Also he was number 2 in the SEC in Passing Touchdowns (25). Austin regressed in 2017 but also had lost his best receivers, played behind a poor line and missed 4 games due to injury. Austin is a tough quarterback that handles adversity well. In 2016, forty percent of his dropbacks were under pressure, which was second highest in the country.

New Orleans Saints
Starter: Drew Brees (Age 39)
Veterans: Tom Savage
Rookies/Second Year:

JT Barrett (Ohio State) – 2018 UDFA. Barrett has impressed his Saints teammates with his accuracy. At Ohio State Barrett is the only three-time team captain in school history. He led Ohio State to two Big Ten titles. Barrett started 44 games in his Ohio State career and set the school record with 38 victories. He is a dual threat quarterback. Barrett set a total of 34 Ohio State records and 5 Big Ten records. He is recognized for his athleticism, strong arm, competitive spirit and leadership.

Taysom Hill (BYU) – 2017 UDFA. “The guy is a freak athlete. I’ve never seen anyone like him at this position,” said Joe Lombardi (the Saint’s quarterback coach), who said Hill “might be the strongest guy on the team — at least pound for pound.” Hill is a dual threat quarterback. He ran a 4.44 forty at his pro day which would have been the best at the combine for quarterbacks. He has been used on kickoff coverage by the Saints. In his sophomore year at BYU Hill ranked 8th in the FBS for total offense which included 1,344 rushing yards and 19 rushing TDs.

Carolina Panthers
Starter: Cam Newton (Age 29)
Veterans: Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert
Rookies/Second Year:

Kyle Allen (Houston) – 2018 UDFA. Allen was tabbed in 2013 by Rivals.com as the nation’s best pro-style quarterback and the seventh best prospect regardless of position coming out of high school. His college career did not go as well. He transferred from Texas A&M to Houston after his sophomore year. After redshirting his junior year, he began the season as a starter. However after three games he was replaced. After the season with a year of eligibility left Allen declared for the draft. Kyle has tremendous arm strength. Kyle has a positive attitude and looks forward to competing to make the team.

Atlanta Falcons
Starter: Matt Ryan (Age 33)
Veterans: Matt Schaub, Garrett Grayson
Rookies/Second Year:

Kurt Benkert (Virginia) – 2018 UDFA. Benkert was projected to be a 6-7th round pick. The reviews on Benkert highlight a strong throwing arm with good velocity. The negative is a tendency to abandon the pocket and throw on the run. Benkert is University of Virginia’s single-season program leader in passing yards (3,207) and 200+-yard passing games (9, T1st). He also holds UVA records for single-game passing (455). Benkert is also tied for first in program history with three career passes of 80 yards or more. He also holds UVA career record for completions fewest career interceptions per pass (0.0218) and is No. 3 all-time in the UVA record book with 5,759 career passing yards and 46 career passing touchdowns achieved in only two years.


NFC North
Minnesota Vikings
Starter: Kirk Cousins (Age 29)
Veterans: Trevor Siemian
Rookies/Second Year:

Peter Pujals (Holy Cross) – 2018 UDFA. Pujals at Holy Cross was a four-year starter and the first four-time captain in the history of the program. His younger brother, who has Downs Syndrome, is a huge Bears and Packers fan. Pujals has mobility, fast processing speed and good pocket presence. He does a good job going thru his progressions. Peter was an All-Conference player three times in his career.

Kyle Sloter (Northern Colorado) – 2017 UDFA. Sloter has played in four preseason games for the Broncos. Those games were all wins and he has stats of 72% completion rate, 3 TDs, 0 Interceptions, 413 yards and a quarterback rating of 125 – the second highest of any rookie quarterback that year. In college Sloter played wide receiver and special teams in addition to quarterback. He only had nine starts as quarterback all in his senior year. After college he was all set to become a financial advisor and the company with his job offer encouraged him to chase his dream. Sloter has a good arm that allows him to hit both tight spaces and the deep ball.

Green Bay Packers
Starter: Aaron Rodgers (Age 34)
Veterans: Brett Hundley
Rookies/Second Year:

Tim Boyle (Eastern Kentucky) – 2018 UDFA. General manager Brian Gutekunst signed Boyle not because of his stats but because the rookie can drive the ball down the field and into tight spots with great accuracy. They like his mechanics and athletic ability. Aaron Rodgers tested pretty good at his combine. Boyle at his pro day tested slightly better than Rodgers. Boyle had a poor college career. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns. However his last year at EKU was a large improvement. He had a QBR of 119, over 2,000 yards passing and a 61% completion percentage.

Deshone Kizer (Notre Dame) – 2017 Round 2 draft pick (Browns). Kizer played 15 games but did not win a game last season for the Browns. He ranked last among all regular starters in completion percentage (53.6) last season and threw a league-high 22 interceptions, which was six more than any other quarterback. His TD to Int ratio was 0.5. Head coach Mike McCarthy of Green Bay likes what he sees in Kizer and has said “In my opinion, if he was in that (draft) class this year, he would’ve been part of that group, the first-round guys. I think he has exceptional arm talent.” Some positives on Kizer’s year with the Browns – Kizer throws the deep ball pretty well as evidenced by his 39.5 completion percentage on throws of 20 yards or more and he still maintained a 45.6 completion percentage when blitzed last year.

Chicago Bears
Starter: Mitch Trubisky (Age 23)
Veterans: Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray
Rookies/Second Year:

Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina) – 2017 Round 1 draft pick. Comparing Trubisky’s stats to 17 other active starting quarterback’s rookie seasons, Mitch’s stats are about middle of the road. Here is the article that did the comparison – Trubisky Rookie Season In Review. Some quarterbacks that did better were Luck, Rothlisberger, Newton, Watson, Winston and Wilson. Some that did worse included Alex Smith, Eli Manning, and Matthew Stafford. Trubisky’s stats were not much different from Wentz or Mahomes. It just shows not to put too much stock in a quarterback’s rookie season. However 2018 should be a big year for Trubisky. The Bears brought in some receiving help that was needed. At North Carolina Trubisky had started only 13 starts all in his final year which was his first season as the starting quarterback. UNC went 8-5 with Trubuisky that year. In Chicago Trubisky started the final 12 games. The Bears were 4-8 for those games for a season record of 5-11.

Detroit Lions
Starter: Matthew Stafford (Age 30)
Veterans: Jake Rudock, Matt Cassel
Rookies/Second Year: None


NFC West
San Francisco 49ers
Starter: Jimmy Garoppolo (Age 26)
Veterans: None
Rookies/Second Year:

Jack Heneghan (Dartmouth) – 2018 UDFA. His father is Lal Heneghan, the franchise’s former general counsel and executive vice president of football administration from 2006 to 2011. In his high school senior year Jack threw for 2,900 yards and 37 touchdowns. A two year starter in college Jack led the team to a 4-6 record his junior year and then to an 8-2 record as a senior. Jack is in the top five of all Dartmouth’s passing records with the only exception being 7th in career pass attempts.

CJ Beathard (Iowa) – 2017 Round 3 draft pick. Beathard started 5 games in 2017 and went 1-4 before being sidelined due to injury. He was replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo. Several members of the 49ers have publicly complimented the attitude and toughness of Beathard during the season, as he was sacked 19 times in his 7 appearances. 49ers general manager John Lynch has said concerning the Garopollo deal is that CJ has been the consummate professional throughout this. CJ reportedly is a film junkie and football is important to him. As a junior in college Beathard led Iowa to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the Rose Bowl, and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt on a 139.5 QB rating. CJ’s grandfather is being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2018.

Nick Mullens (Southern Miss) – 2017 UDFA. Nick Mullens is the Southern Miss Golden Eagle leader in career, single season and single game passing yards. Quarterback Brett Favre set Golden Eagle passing records in 1990 that stood for 30 years before being broken by Austin Davis and then Nick Mullens. Nick holds the Southern Miss record in passing touchdowns for both career and single season. He holds the Southern Miss record for best career quarterback rating for over 150 completions and the second best completion percentage.

LA Rams
Starter: Jared Goff (Age 23)
Veterans: Bandon Allen, Sean Mannion
Rookies/Second Year:

Luis Perez (Texas AM – Commerce) – 2018 UDFA. Perez is a top rated amateur bowler and has bowled 12 perfect games in his life. Luis Perez’s story of getting to the NFL is unbelievable and a testament to what the human spirit can accomplish. He never played quarterback until he walked into a community college and said he wanted to be their quarterback. Here is a link to the story –Pro Football Weekly article on Luis Perez – definitely a good read. He is an accurate passer and has tremendous drive.

Seattle Seahawks
Starter: Russell Wilson (Age 29)
Veterans: Austin Davis
Rookies/Second Year:

Alex McGough (FIU) – 2018 Round 7 draft pick. Four year starter at FIU and only missed 3 games due to injury. Alex holds eight FIU records including career passing TDs (48), single season passing yards (2722) and single season passing TDs (21). Alex shows good arm strength and the ability to scramble. He led FIU to its first bowl game in seven years. Early reports are that he has impressed at Seahawks rookie minicamp.

Arizona Cardinals
Starter: Sam Bradford (Age 30)
Veterans: Mike Glennon
Rookies/Second Year:

Josh Rosen (UCLA) – 2018 Round 1 draft pick. Most have heard of Rosen’s college career. He is said to be doing well in camp. Cardinals coach Steve Wilks has praised Rosen often, saying the 21-year-old out of UCLA is everything the Cardinals thought when they drafted him. When asked if it was “unrealistic to think that a rookie quarterback could make a run at the starting quarterback? “No, it’s not,” Wilks said. “I talked about it from Day 1, the best 11 (players) are going to play. Sam is the starter and when he’s healthy, he’s great. But everybody is competing to be out there on the field. Competition is a great thing. It makes us all better.”

Chad Kanoff (Princeton) – 2018 UDFA. Three year starter at Princeton. Kanoff broke many Princeton and Ivy League passing records. He earned Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year. Kanoff has a strong arm and athleticism. He throws with accuracy and velocity. In 2017 he completed 73.2% of his passes setting a Princeton and Ivy League record for single-season completion percentage. Chad tied the Ivy League record for most 400-yard passing games (three) and 300-yard passing games (eight) in a single season. He was also second on the Princeton rankings and fourth on the Ivy League rankings in career completion percentage (64.5%).


NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
Starter: Dak Prescott (Age 24)
Veterans: None
Rookies/Second Year:

Dalton Sturm (San Antonio) – 2018 UDFA. Sturm was a college walk-on that went on to be a starter, earned a scholarship and now is on an NFL roster. Dalton only had DII offers out of high school. He felt he could play DI and passed the offers to be a walk-on and 4th team quarterback at UTSA. A three year starter at UTSA. Dalton led the UTSA team to their first bowl appearance in 2016. Sturm is a dual threat quarterback, can make plays out of nothing, and has been good not turning over the football. Sturm is the school’s all-time leader in passing efficiency (134.7), he tied the single-season record for passing touchdowns (20 in 2016) and set single-game records for passing yards (367), passing touchdowns (4), passing efficiency (257.9) and total offense (395).

Mike White (Western Kentucky) – 2018 Round 5 draft pick. White joined Mason Rudolph as the only two FBS quarterbacks that threw for 4000+ yards each of the last two seasons. White is recognized for a strong arm, good accuracy and as a pocket passer. Listing top WKU quarterbacks with over 50 career attempts will give you Brandon Doughty followed by Mike White for completion %, yards, TDs and quarterback rating. White was more likely to go into baseball from high school and was recruited b y many top baseball schools around the country. However his senior year in high school he earned his first start at quarterback and did great.

Cooper Rush (Central Michigan) – 2017 UDFA. In 2017 Cooper had the best preseason among rookie quarterbacks. He had a quarterback rating of 135.9, a completion percentage of 74.5%, 398 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. In college Cooper’s story is similar to Mike White. Listing the top Central Michigan quarterbacks by records Cooper would be second behind Dan Lefevour in completion %, yards, Touchdowns, and Quarterback rating. Rush led CMU to three bowl games. In the 2014 Bahama Bowl Cooper led his team back in the fourth quarter trailing by 35 points to almost win the game but losing it at 49-48 on a failed 2 point conversion. His 75-yard multilateral Hail Mary in the game was nominated at the 2015 ESPY awards for Best Play but Odell Beckham won for his TD catch against Dallas.

New York Giants
Starter: Eli Manning (Age 37)
Veterans: Alex Tanney
Rookies/Second Year:

Davis Webb (California) – 2017 Round 3 draft pick. As a freshman at Texas Tech, Davis was only one of four true freshmen at quarterback to ever start for Texas Tech. Of those four quarterbacks, Webb had the most yards and touchdowns. He started 6 games and went 3-3. In his freshman season he started in the 2013 Holiday Bowl, led Texas Tech to an upset win and was named Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP. In 2014 Webb was 6th in the Big-12 in passing yards and 3rd in passing touchdowns despite only playing 8 games due to injury. In his junior year he was backup to Patrick Mahomes and transferred to California for his senior year. Despite playing only one year at California, Webb made the Cal record lists as 2nd in single season passing yards (4,295), 3rd in single game passing yards (522) and 7th (478), 10th in career passing touchdowns (37) which also was 2nd in single season passing TDs. Webb was also 5th in completion % for over 100 attempts (61.6%) and 4th in quarterback rating for over 100 attempts (135.6). Webb was invited to the Senior Bowl where he was named Senior Bowl MVP by leading the South to scores on each of the three drives he played. At the combine his athleticism showed by showing among quarterbacks 3rd in vertical jump, 3rd in 3 cone drill, and 5th in both the forty and broad jump. Webb is recognized for a strong arm and a exceptional work ethic.

Kyle Lauletta (Richmond) – 2018 Round 4 draft pick. Two year team captain. Senior Bowl MVP. Among quarterbacks at the combine Lauletta came in 1st in the 20 yd shuttle; 4th in the 3 cone, broad jump, and vertical jump; and 6th in the forty. Lauletta started in 35 games going 24-11. Lauletta made Phil Steele’s FCS All American Second Team in 2017.A three year sarter, Lauletta made the CAA All Conference team each year – twice on 2nd team and in 2017 on 1st. In 2017 he was selected as the CAA league Offensive Player of the Year. He is on the Richmond record lists for Touchdowns thrown in a game six times in the top ten, three times on the season touchdowns top ten, and number one in career touchdowns (73). Kyle is five times on the top 10 passing yards in a game, three times in the top four for season passing yards, and number one in career passing yards (10,465). Lauletta is twice in the top 10 for longest pass play. He is twice in the top 7 for season completion percentage and is number two in career completion percentage (63.5%). Lauletta’s strengths are anticipatory throws, fast processing and quick release, red zone savant, leadership, toughness and throwing on the move. He is extremely accurate on short and intermediate throws.

Philadelphia Eagles
Starter: Carson Wentz (Age 25)
Veterans: Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld, Joe Callahan
Rookies/Second Year: None

Washington Redskins
Starter: Alex Smith (Age 34)
Veterans: Colt McCoy, Kevin Hogan
Rookies/Second Year: None


¹(Note: I apologize to all not into Star Wars. A Padawan is a young Jedi in training usually with a Jedi Knight or Master. Mitch Trubisky is like Luke SkyWalker – a trainee thrust into battle)

Giant Franchise Records and the 2018 season

I decided to gather some data on Giant records and what current Giants are listed as approaching these records. I used the site https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/nyg/career-rushing.htm for data. It lists the Giant career leaders as

All time passing – Eli Manning
All time rushing – Tiki Barber
All time receiving – Amani Toomer
All time scoring – Pete Gogolak

If Beckham continues to play as he has and remains a Giant he should surpass Toomer and maybe even has a shot to surpass Gogolak. Tiki’s records will be harder to break but maybe Barkley could be that guy. Eli has already set most Giants passing records.

Here are the records. For current Giants I show what they now have and then  a reasonable expectation for 2018 and what place that would move them into.

Interceptions
1st – Emlen Tunnell 74 interceptions
Landon Collins – 48th 8 interceptions (2 will up to 42nd)
Janoris Jenkins – 67th 6 interceptions (2 will up to 48th)

Pick six
1st – Emlen Tunnell, Dick Lynch, Jason Sehorn – 4 Pick 6
Janoris Jenkins – 9th 2 Pick 6 (1 will tie for 4th)
Landon Collins – 24th 1 Pick 6 (1 will tie for 9th)

Passes defensed
1st – Corey Webster (98 PD)
Landon Collins – 11th 28 PD (6 will move to 8th)
Janoris Jenkins – 12th 27 PD (9 will move to 8th)
Eli Apple – 28th 15 PD (8 will move to 18th)

Forced Fumbles
1st – Osi Umenyiora (32 FF)
Olivier Vernon – 29th 3 FF ( 2 will move to 18th)

Sacks
1st – Michael Strahan (141.5 Sacks)
Olivier Vernon – 21st 15 Sacks (6 will move to 15th)

Scoring
1st – K Pete Gogolak (646 points)
Odell Beckham – 24th 38 TDs (228 points) (10 TDs will move to 20th)
Aldrick Rosas – 86th 74 pts (74 points will move to 47th)
Sterling Shepard – 104th 10 TDs (8 TDs will move to 63rd)
Evan Engram – 149th 6 TDs (6 TDs will move to 91st)

Receiving Yards
1st – Amani Toomer (9,497 yards)
Odell Beckham – 11th 4,424 yds (1374 will move to 2nd)
Sterling Shepard – 42nd 1,414 yds (707 will move to 30th)
Evan Engram – 86th 722 yds (722 will move to 40th)

Catch % – WRs and TEs with over 100 career targets
1st – TE Larry Donnell (68.3%)
Sterling Shepard 65.6 – 4th
Odell Beckham 62.9 – 6th
Evan Engram 55.7 – 16th

Rushing Yards
1st – Tiki Barber (10,449 yards)
2nd – Rodney Hampton (6,897 yards)
3rd – Joe Morris (5,296 yards)
Wayne Gallman – 67th – 476 yds (476 will move to 44th)

Rookie Yards from Scrimmage
1st – WR Odell Beckham – 1340 yards
2nd – HB Alex Webster – 903 yards

Rookie Rushing Yards
1st – FB Tuffy Leemans (830 yards)

Yards from Scrimmage
1st – Tiki Barber (15,632 yards)

Rushing Yards per Attempt (RB/HB/TB/FB with minimum 100 career attempts)
Ward Cuff 1766 yards at 5.4/att
Derrick Ward 1750 yards at 5.1/att
Tiki Barber 10,449 yards at 4.7/att
Ahmad Bradshaw 4,232 yards at 4.6/att
Jarrod Bunch 629 yards at 4.6/att
Brandon Jacobs 5,087 yards at 4.5/att
Dave Meggett 1,228 yards at 4.5/att
David Wilson 504 yards at 4.4/att
Frank Gifford 3,609 yards at 4.3/att
Orleans Darkwa 1,036 yards at 4.3/att
Wayne Gallman 476 yards at 4.3/att

Passing Completion % (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Eli Manning – 59.8%

Passing Yards
1st – Eli Manning – 51,682

Passing touchdowns
1st – Eli Manning – 339

TD % (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Charlie Conerly (6.1 %)
2nd – Fran Tarkenton (5.4 %)
3rd – Eli Manning (4.3 %)

Interception % (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Kerry Collins (2.8 %)
2nd – Eli Manning (3.1 %)

Passing Yards per Attempt (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Fran Tarkenton (7.3 yds)
2nd – Phil Simms (7.2 yds)
3rd – Eli Manning (7.0 yds)

Adjusted Passing Yards per Attempt (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Fran Tarkenton (6.7 yds)
2nd – Phil Simms (6.5 yds)
3rd – Eli Manning (6.5 yds)

Yards per Pass Completion (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Charlie Conerly (13.7 yds)
2nd – Fran Tarkenton (13.2 yds)
3rd – Phil Simms (13.0 yds)
4th – Eli Manning (11.7 yds)

Yards per game played (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Eli Manning (239.3 yds)

Quarterback Rating (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Eli Manning (83.5)

Net Yards per pass attempt (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Eli Manning (6.35 yds)

Adjusted net yards per attempt (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Eli Manning (5.90 yds)

Sack % (Min 1500 pass attempts)
1st – Eli Mnaning (4.6%)

4th Quarter Comebacks
1st – Eli Manning (26)

Game winning drives
1st – Eli Manning (35)

Looking forward to the season. It will be interesting to see how some Giants move up the leader board and if Barkley could set a Giant rookie season record.

On a side note when researching this post I was amazed at the number of interceptions that Emlen Tunnell had. I read up on Tunnell and recommend reading his Wikipedia page for an interesting read.

2018 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Prospects

The following list of wide receivers have been filtered to show those that have achieved a 30% or higher team market share of receiving yards. There is a strong correlation between market share production and pro-bowl potential. This has been researched extensively by James Cobern at draftcobern.wordpress.com.

In the list I have highlighted the data that is the roughly in the highest third of the list and summed the number of highlights at the end of each row. The aqua highlighted names are my favorites for draft picks. The yellow highlighted names are also prospects that I like.

Bold names are receivers that meet certain physical characteristics related to arm length and hand size. I used the following criteria

  • 6-2 or taller with  32 5/8-inch arm length
  • 6-1 or shorter with 29 ¾-inch arm length
  • 8 7/8-inch hand size

The column success rate measures what percent of the receivers plays were deemed successful in relation to down and yardage gained.

Wide Receivers – Click to go to image

Tre’Quan Smith is a big receiver with good speed and solid hands. He is a red zone threat and tied for 2nd most receiving TDs among draft eligible receivers. Smith is also one of college football’s best deep threats. He was tied for 6th among draft prospects with 20 receptions of 20+ yards and had the most touchdown receptions on deep passes among all FBS wide receivers. He will go up and fight for jump balls and makes some spectacular catches. Smith is also an exceptional run blocker. He has some issues with drops though that has improved in 2017.

DaeSean Hamilton has an intense work ethic. He’d run routes at 6 a.m. on the practice field. He’d catch balls on the Jugs machine, sometimes 100, or 200 with a teammate. Hamilton is 9th in active career leaders for receptions and receiving yards. In 2017 he was 7th in receptions of 20+ yards. According to Pro Football Focus he was first among FBS receivers with a catch rate of 73.3% on deep passes (20+ yards) for receivers with a minimum of 10 deep targets. Dane Brugler, senior analyst at NFLdraftscout.com has Hamilton rated as one of the top three receivers for route running.

James Washington was ranked 24th in receptions in 2017 but 1st in receiving yards. He was 4th in receiving TDs and 1st in yards per game. Washington was tied for 2nd in plays of 20+ yards. According to Pro Football Focus his 815 deep receiving yards was 1st among FBS receivers. Not just a deep threat, Washington’s QB had a perfect passer rating when targeting him on slant routes. Washington also averaged 9.3 yards after the catch on slants in 2017. James has a strong work ethic and has not missed a game in four seasons.

Micah Holder is my dark horse prospect being rated as 108 out of 321 wide receivers. His pro day results were very good.  He had a 40″ vertical which would be tied for tops at the combine among receivers. He also did good in the short shuttle and 3 cone drills for what would have been 3rd and 10th respectively. Besides having 31.7% of the team’s receiving yards, Micah has a good catch rate and success rate. His review at draftanalyst.com depicts a sure handed receiver that runs good routes and makes difficult catches.

Here is the file of receivers as an excel spreadsheet – wide receivers.xls