While free agency quiets down and the draft remains six weeks away, we figure we might reach out to NFL fans with some of unique Signature Stats-based articles. A bridge between our grades and conventional stats, the aim is to embrace the use of numbers in examining areas of importance, but adding a greater degree of context than what is currently out there.
Often receivers have been lambasted for their numbers of drops and while that is often fair game, how can we compare one person dropping 20 balls when he is thrown 150, to another dropping six when he is thrown 40? Well what we’ve done is great a few numbers to really answer which receivers have the best hands. Firstly we’ve created the catchable balls number which adds up catches and drops. We then collect a percentage of how many drops a receiver had by their catchable balls, and hey presto, you’ve got yourself a drop rate — the best metric out there for identifying the ‘hands' guys.
To qualify a back needed to be thrown at least 30 catchable balls, leaving a field of 33 players.
In addition to being a yards-after-the-catch monster, Darren Sproles also has some exceptionally reliable hands. This year that meant he dropped no passes, and when you consider he has 71 catchable balls thrown his way that helps him stand out from the crowd. This marks quite the turnaround from the past two years where Sproles combined to put 19 passes on the ground (granted he was thrown to more), but is just another reason for the Eagles to be happy to have locked him down for the immediate future.
Of course Sproles isn’t the only one who didn’t drop any balls. On nearly half as many targets new Giant running back Rashad Jennings didn’t let a pass hit the ground for Oakland in 2013. That makes it just four career drops for the former seventh-round selection, an impressive number even when you consider he’s been limited on the field. Behind him and boasting single-drop seasons and sub-3.0 drop rates are Atlanta's Jacquizz Rodgers and Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch.
At the other end of things the Lions have learned to take the rough with the smooth when it comes to Reggie Bush. For all his playmaking you can’t help but look at his 10 drops and think that is far too high. In fact it’s the worst of all running backs in the league and an area that he needs to do better in. Not much better is Shane Vereen who isn’t doing his case for any extra playing time much good with eight drops on 55 catchable balls, while rookie Le’Veon Bell and his 13.46 drop rate need to be lowered if he’s going to be the every-down back Mike Tomlin envisions him being.
As with all signature stats they aren’t exhaustive in what they explain. Not every drop is the same in terms of importance or difficulty. It’s why our grading is always trumps any pure number out there. In any case with a PFF Premium membership, at just $26.99, you’re fortunate enough to get both the numbers and the grades. For now enjoy these numbers.
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