Camp Countdown: 18 Days — Quite a Catch

Randall Cobb is by far the NFL's best receiver in this critical category and has separated himself from his peers in a three-category comparison.

Photo by Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY

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

Team Games Targets Catches Yards Average TDs Catch Rate
Randall Cobb GB 52 309 227 3,049 13.4 25 73.5
Percy Harvin TOT 39 285 201 2,144 10.7 10 70.5
Wes Welker TOT 59 522 362 4,165 11.5 27 69.3
Julian Edelman NE 52 326 222 2,297 10.4 13 68.1
Dexter McCluster TOT 61 260 177 1,488 8.4 5 68.1
Austin PettisTOT511591071,0349.7967.3
Jordy Nelson GB 60 447 300 4,841 16.1 43 67.1
Nate Burleson DET 31 208 139 1,458 10.5 6 66.8
Marques Colston NO 61 448 297 4,142 14.0 28 66.3
Golden Tate TOT 63 369 243 3,299 13.6 19 65.9
Keenan Allen SD 29 226 148 1,829 12.4 12 65.5
James Jones TOT 62 358 234 2,902 12.4 30 65.4
Lance Moore TOT 56 257 168 2,323 13.8 18 65.4
Harry DouglasATL593272132,51711.8665.1
Source: NFL data and Pro Football Reference

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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