With his four-year, $40 million contract, Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb ranks eighth at his position with a $10 million average salary.
You could argue that Cobb is underpaid.
Since entering the NFL in 2011, Cobb leads the NFL’s wide receivers in catch percentage by a considerable margin, according to league data. (See chart at end of this story.) Among receivers with at least 100 receptions over the last four seasons, Cobb and Percy Harvin are the only receivers with a catch rate of at least 70 percent.
Cobb has been amazingly consistent. As a rookie, Cobb caught 80.6 percent of the passes thrown his way (25 catches, 31 targets). In 2012, Cobb’s 76.9 percent (80-of-104) led all receivers. During his injury-shortened 2013, he hauled in a career-worst 66.0 percent of the passes in which he was targeted (31-of-47).
Last season, Cobb caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. Despite the increased workload – and the bigger target from opposing defenses – Cobb’s efficiency barely skipped a beat. His catch rate of 71.7 percent ranked fourth among receivers who caught at least 50 passes.
Cobb was at his all-around best last season. Of the top 20 wide receivers in catch percentage:
-- Eight of them also finished in the top 19 in touchdowns with at least seven: Dez Bryant, first, 16; Jordy Nelson and Antonio Brown, tied for second, 13; Cobb and Odell Beckham, tied for fourth, 12; Emmanuel Sanders, tied for 12th, nine; Jordan Matthews, tied for 14th, eight; Eddie Royal, tied for 18th, seven.
-- Eight of them also finished in the top 20 in yards after the catch per catch: Golden Tate, third, 6.7; Cobb, fourth, 6.42; Royal, eighth, 5.81; Matthews, 10th, 5.78; Beckham, 13th, 5.34; Jarvis Landry, 18th, 5.17; Doug Baldwin, 19th, 5.12; Nelson, 20th, 5.11.
When you see the two lists, the only common names are Cobb, who finished fourth in catch rate, tied for fourth in touchdowns and fourth in yards after the catch per catch; Royal, who finished 11th in catch rate, tied for 18th in touchdowns and eighth in YAC per reception; Matthews, who finished 15th in catch rate, tied for 14th in touchdowns and 10th in YAC per catch; and Nelson, who finished 16th in catch rate, tied for second in touchdowns and 20th in YAC per catch. So, Cobb was one of only four to be in the top 20 in each category but blew the other three out of the water with fourth-place rankings in each of those categories.
“I think that with my skill-set, I’m able to do a bunch of different things,” Cobb said after signing his contract. “I think coach (Mike) McCarthy and our offensive staff has been very creative in finding ways to get the ball out in my hands and allowing me to make plays. Having a staff that understands the kind of player I am and being able to use my versatility in such a diverse offense, I think it definitely helps. I think they maximize my ability by using me in so many different ways. I think that was huge for me to know that I know what I’m going to get with the positions they’re going to put me in.”
Top WR catch rates: 2011-2014
Minimum 100 catches
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.