By Dave-Te’ Thomas, NFL Draft Report
In this report, I compared the verified statistical performances, along with the “hidden stats” that do not normally appear on your local sports web site.
Tyler Boyd finished his Pittsburgh career as the school's record-holder with 254 receptions for 3,361 yards. He is also second with 5,243 all-purpose yards, topped by the legendary Tony Dorsett (7,117; 1973-76)
Baylor’s Corey Coleman, Texas Christian’s Josh Docston; Notre Dame’s Will Fuller and Mississippi’s Laquon Treadwell were all first-round picks.
2016 NFL DRAFT ELITE WIDER RECEIVER RESEARCH
Based strictly on their statistics, below are comparison charts demonstrating how each of these athletes fared on the gridiron last season. I examine each athlete’s performance in detailed pass-catching categories, based on game averages or percentage of passes caught. While Ohio State’s Braxton Miller is rated ahead of Boyd, he did not have enough receiving opportunities to qualify for this research. Due to injuries by Boyd (Youngstown State), Coleman (North Carolina) and Doctson (Oklahoma, Baylor and Oregon), team statistics for those contests are not included in the averages. While Doctson stepped on to the field in the Alamo Bowl, it was to just acknowledge his career at TCU and he left after one play.
Coleman holds the school career-record with 33 touchdown catches, ranking fifth with 173 receptions and fourth with 3,009 aerial yards.
RECEIVING STATISTICAL COMPARISON, PART 1
While teams were impressed with the high amount of passes caught by a receiver (CT/TGT), I generally like to see a player catch at least 70 percent of the passes targeted to him, as it shows he will not just stand by and let a defender out-muscle him on the play. While receivers get their opportunities to score, I also like to locate the table-setters – guys who come up with key plays on drives that will eventually result in their team scoring (SP). In this category, I expect the slot receivers to have a hand in at least 30 percent of the drives they participate in, with a lower 27 percent mark for the outside receivers.
The most prolific receiver in school history, Doctson hauled in 180 passes for records of 2,795 yards and 29 touchdowns in just three seasons at Texas Christian. He holds the top two spots on the Horned Frogs' season list with 65 catches and 11 touchdowns in 2014, followed by 14 scores and 79 grabs, despite a wrist injury, in 2015.
RECEIVING STATISTICAL COMPARISON, PART 2
The chart above demonstrates just how important that receiver was to his team’s passing attack. For a featured receiver, you would expect him to be the recipient of at least 30 percent of the balls caught. They should generate at least 35 percent of the team’s aerial output and be very effective in converting those catches that get the ball into the end zone. With traditionally three receivers in operation, any aerial opportunity for the feature receiver should see him record at least 25 percent of the team’s touchdown receptions.
BIG PLAY STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Moving the chains is critical and slot receivers often get the “grunt work” by operating over the middle or in a crowd. The outside receivers get better opportunities to stretch the field, as they usually perform in the intermediate to deep areas. In order to be an efficient chain mover, the receiver has to produce first downs from at least 60 percent of his catches. Those that are capable for success executing third-down conversion establish themselves as elite chain movers.
On those third-down chances, you would expect your wideout to be successful converting those plays on at least 50 percent of those opportunities. You can always tell the physical receivers best inside the red zone – as they tend to have much better success muscling through a crowd to get to the ball. Most slot receivers lack size and bulk, resulting in them more often getting ping-ponged when trying to slip through tight areas and go for the pigskin.
SCORING OPPORTUNITY BREAKDOWN
Elite receivers will be involved in at least 30 percent of their team’s touchdown drives – whether setting it up with a big play or taking the ball into the end zone. You hope that your starting targets can generate at least 20 percent of the scoring drives by the team and be responsible for having a hand in at least 25 percent of the points scored by the offense.
Here is where the “hidden” mistakes are revealed. No athlete will play a mistake-free game, but there are certain areas that might trouble a scout when he looks at this chart. Last year, the top 10 receivers averaged 6.11 passes that were deflected away from them, but as you can see from above, the average for these six receivers was having 12 passes per year batted away from them. For a 6-foot-2 player, Treadwell’s problem seems to be timing, as defenders high-pointed 12 of those tosses away from him. He also showed poor vision running out of the backfield, as he was dropped for losses on one running play and three grabs. He was also penalty prone – with three of his six infractions coming on false starts.
Coleman might be an electrifying runner after the catch, but what gets him in trouble is that he shows little patience securing the ball before heading up field. This has seen him drop four passes in crucial situations. His slight frame also gets him trouble on end-around plays, as he has little strength to power through, resulting in him getting taken down six times behind the line. He might be a better fit for the slot, as he loses a lot of jump ball battles, evidenced by the 12 passes deflected away from him in 2015.
The strange case of Boyd sees him pull in a lot of passes, but yield marginal results. He converted 50.55 percent of his catches into first downs, the lowest figure in the group. Used often on reverses, it might be a good idea to abandon that function at the next level. On 40 carries in 2015, he fumbled five times, was tackled for a loss five times and taken down for no gain on seven other attempts (42.5 percent of those tries netted nothing). He also has to show more courage going for the high pass, as he was out-jumped to the tune of thirteen pass deflections last year.
Talk about making the most from an opportunity! Notre Dame's big-play artist, Will Fuller, led college football by averaging 45.36 yards per touchdown reception. His 30 touchdowns for the Irish is seven shy of the school record 37 scoring grabs established by Michael Floyd (2008-11).
GOING THE DISTANCE
Further evidence that Boyd is more suited for the slot is the high amount of passes he caught that failed to gain at least 10 yards (69.23 percent) and just over 10 percent of his catches were for distances of 20 yards or longer. His touchdown catches also generated a miniscule 13.5 percent of his total yardage.
Coleman showed why he has the speed to stretch the field. Once he got a clean release off the line, he was quick to gobble the defender’s cushion, as more than 27 percent of his receptions went for long distances, especially his touchdown grabs, which averaged to 40.65 yards per score.
Fuller was the undisputed king of the long ball, as four of his touchdowns were for 50 yards or longer, averaging 50.48 percent of his yardage on the way to the end zone. More than 30 percent of his receptions were for twenty yards or longer in 2015.
Treadwell closed out his career seventh in Southeastern Conference history with 202 receptions that also set the school record. He also placed third at Ole Miss with 2,398 yards receiving.