It’s late July which means football is nearly here. Training camps have now popped up all over the country and fans are getting their first glimpses of the 2018 iteration of their respective teams. As football draws closer, we continue our look at the top NFL wide receivers on each branch of the route tree from 2017, with an eye towards their possible success in the season to come.
[Editor’s note: Routes in this study are bucketed onto the common PFF route tree featured below, for comparison, attached with their NFL average passer rating when targeting each specific route. For more information on our route trees and signature statistics like WR Rating – passer rating when targeted – check out our Signature Stats Glossary.]
Over the course of July, we’ll take a look at the top five receivers from the 2017 season on each individual route, by their passer rating when targeted – their WR Rating – on each specific branch of the route tree. We’ve already looked at routes targeted at or behind the line of scrimmage, on slants, crossing routes, out routes, in routes, hitch routes, comebacks and today continues our study.
With that, here are the top five receivers on post route concepts from 2017:
1. Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs (formerly w/ Los Angeles) – 144.4 WR Rating
Last season, the Chiefs offense relied heavily on the production of Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, but with the arrival of Watkins, that’s all seemingly going to change. Last year, Watkins was a reliable target for the Rams, especially on his post routes, where he caught 9-of-12 targets for 209 receiving yards and one touchdown. Watkins also tallied a catch rate of 75.0 percent from his post routes, which was the fifth-best mark that we’ve seen in 12 years of grading and over the course of his four-year career, he’s never dropped a pass on a post route.
2. Deandre Hopkins, Houston Texans – 136.7 WR Rating
The Texans No. 1 receiver was almost clinical on his post routes last year and racked up seven catches from 10 targets for 88 receiving yards and a staggering five touchdowns – the second-most ever recorded by wide receiver on post routes in a single season in the PFF era. Last year, Hopkins attained a positive grade on 70.0 percent of his targets, which ranked second only to Watkins and if it wasn’t for his two drops, Hopkins would have certainly claimed the top spot on this list.
3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals – 119.8 WR Rating
Since we started tracking individual route data on every play of every game, the Bengals wide receiver has racked up a colossal 1,243 receiving yards from post routes, the third-most behind Calvin Johnson (1,615) and Julio Jones (1,294). Green’s 2017 performance further established his dominance and he ended the year with 10 catches from 16 targets for 271 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Green also tallied 105 yards after the catch from his post routes last year, the fifth-most ever recorded by a receiver in a single season.
4. Marquise Goodwin,San Francisco 49ers – 119.6 WR Rating
The post route accounted for just 14 of Goodwin’s 99 targets last year, but he sure made them count when he needed to. All told, Goodwin caught 7-of-14 targets for one touchdown and a whopping 252 receiving yards, the second-most among receivers last year. His average of 36.0 yards per reception on post routes not only paced the league but was the third-most ever recorded by PFF and he also ended the year tied with Green as our highest graded receiver on the route.
5. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 99.6 WR Rating
Evans not only succeeded on comeback routes last year, he also found success on the post route. Last year, Evans hauled in 6-of-10 targets for 114 receiving yards, with five of those receptions going for a first down. Since entering the NFL, Evans has been the league’s best chain-mover on post routes, as 24 of his 26 career receptions from post routes have resulted in a first down.