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Pass Receiver Ratings II

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about pass receiver ratings. While they are fairly accurate indicators of production and value, without something to compare these ratings to, they mean virtually nothing from an analytical standpoint.

For example, what does Steve Gregory's 55.789 rating really mean? Looking at the numbers, he was the second most productive receiver Syracuse fielded last season, but his actual value may be put into more perspective when compared to his Big East counterparts.

[2004 Pass Receiver Ratings - Big East]
Instead of engaging in the pre-suicidal exercise of rating every single Big East receiver who logged more than 2 total receptions, I chose to consider only the top 5o players in total yards receiving.

While pass receiver ratings are concerned with per game statistics (such as receptions per game and yards per game), using total receiving yards seemed like an appropriate player ranking to draw from because often total yardage is inappropriately associated with maximum production. Thus, by applying pass receiving ratings to those players that are most considered productive from unsavvy onlookers, the ratings may be a little bit more accessible.

The results were very interesting and I was very suprised with the proficiency of many receivers, especially those in the Rutgers program. Also, for all the gruff the Syracuse receiving corps took, they were amongst some of the better in the league when the ball was in their hands.

Rutgers placed three players in the top ten and had the most representatives in the top 25 with five. Boston College, Syracuse, and Connecticut each had four players in the top 25 while Pittsburgh and West Virginia were only able to place three players in that echelon. Temple was at the rear of the pack only getting two players into the top 25.

1G. LeePittWR105.5871
2C. HenryWVUWR96.46835
3T. MosesRUWR92.514
4K. HenryUCWR76.793
5C. HarrisRUTE72.11382
6P. GoodmanTUWR69.0995
7G. AdamsBCWR64.008
8J. WilliamsUCWR61.8092
9B. LeonardRURB60.8127
10J. JonesSUWR57.469
11J. DelSardoPittWR57.4571
12S. GregorySUWR55.789
13E. GillPittTE54.11749
14I. ChukuUTWR52.20557
15J. HazardBCWR50.25913
16D. MurrayUCTE49.93709
17M. CutaiaUCWR48.96947
18C. BakerRUWR45.02269
19B. MylesWVUWR41.25446
20D. KashettaBCTE37.68023
21M. DanielsRUWR35.6607
22C. MillerBCTE34.10753
23A. FontenetteSUWR33.6098
24D. RhodesSURB32.73452
25K.J. HarrisWVURB32.30389
26M. FurmanPittRB32.14303
27T. BrownTURB32.07933
28E. JacksonWVUWR31.72663
29S. BuchesPittTE30.91062
30T. GonzalezBCWR30.86794
31C. BrockingtonUCRB30.15153
32B. SparksUCWR30.12276
33J. HarrisTUWR29.37115
34J. KowalewskiSUTE26.37206
35R. KirkleyPittRB26.20217
36W. FosterRUWR26.04663
37M. HendersonWVUWR25.3544
38B. McLeanUCWR25.19447
39L.V. WhitworthBCRB23.73777
40J. LillyBCWR23.38591
41C. HalesWVUQB22.56733
42T. MurphyPittRB22.28136
43A. CallenderBCRB21.74868
44W. ReyesSURB21.38768
45D. AndersonUCLB20.87172
46J. ColsonWVURB20.37521
47J. HairstonRURB20.34853
48U. FergusonTURB19.77242
49L. BemboSUWR18.80909
50C. BellamyUCRB18.38917

[Knee-Jerk Analysis - Overview]
First and foremost, the numbers here don't lie. The Big East Conference did not see a rash of productive receivers last season. In fact, outside of the top three receivers (more on them later), there was not a legitimate stud receiver that opponents would be unable to stop. Quite clearly, the Big East did not have a cupboard full of terrific number 1-style receivers, despite the passing numbers accumulated by passers like Dan Orlovsky and Ryan Hart.

For the most part, the league was riddled with a large crop of second and third receiver-type players. This can be explained one of three ways: 1) offenses across the league made a concerted effort to spread receptions around an entire receiving corps; or 2) team defenses were just outstanding at limiting the combination passing/receiving game; or 3) the receiving talent was just substandard. I am inclined to believe the answer is a combination of explinations 1) and 3).

Dan Orlovsky (3354), Ryan Hart (3154), and Tyler Palko (3067) all had great season passing yards totals. Given this fact, it would be expected that the receivers from these teams would have solid production ratings. Looking at those teams (UConn, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh), only Pittsburgh and Rutgers had receivers log what would be considered a very good season - Greg Lee and Tres Moses, respectively. With the exception of West Virginia's Chris Henry and arguably Keron Henry from UConn, no other team had receiving production flow through one target. This can only lead to the conclusion that all those excess receptions delivered by Big East passers had to be strewn about the field to a diverse group of recipients.

With regard to the notion that the Big East is populated with average to below-average talent, one need only look at the ratings themselves. Out of the 50 "leading" receivers in the Big East, 26 had a rating between 30 and 65. When 52% of a league's primary receiving targets have only average to below-average value, there is trouble.

This trouble is even more pronounced when it becomes apparent that only 12% of the league's better receivers produce legitimate number 1 target-type production.


Given the utter dearth of legitimate star receivers in the league, the conclusion must be drawn that the Big East was just a wasteland for number 1-style receivers, and given this fact, that teams were forced to spread the receiving wealth around.

[Knee-Jerk Analysis - Syracuse]

2004 Orange receivers couldn't catch a cold.

And things may get worse before they get better. Syracuse's top three producers in 2004 have all graduated or been repositioned. For most schools, this would be bad, but Syracuse has it even rougher considering those three producers also happened to be the team's top wide receviers in 2004.

And they were followed in the ratings by an unproven tight end, a running back who will now become the team's featured masher, and a now-graduated running back.


Get ready for a veteran receivng corps that averaged a 19.1982 rating. I hope Rice Moss, Tim Lane, Lavar Lobdell and Bruce Williams come prepared for August practice, because they will have all the opportunity in the world to get onto the field.

Undervalued - Steve Gregory
Without a doubt, Steve Gregory is better on the defensive side of the football than he is on the offensive side. However, in the 8 games Gregory logged as a receiver in 2004, he faired pretty well. His 55.789 rating is analogous to what Donte Stallworth contributes to the New Orleans Saints, and that isn't too bad.

Had Gregory been able to play in all 12 2004 contests, a greater load would have been lifted off the shoulders of Jared Jones and a reliable target would have been available to a very erratic Perry Patterson.

Maybe this is a better persepective. Gregory's receiver rating was higher than any receiver Syracuse put on the field between 1999 and 2003 with the exception of Jamel Riddle in 2002 and Johnnie Morant in 2003.

That's 1) how unnoticed Gregory's season was; and 2) how bad the receivers on the Hill have been as of late.

Overvalued - Landel Bembo
Bembo just edges out Quinton Brown for the overvalued prize because Landel saw two starts in the 2004 campaign while Pasqualoni had the sanity not to show Brown the field until Syracuse had dug itself into an unmanageable situation.

Congratulations, Landel!

How bad of a season was 2004 for Bembo. Well, he finished with a receiver rating below a quarterback, a linebacker, and a golden retriever who snags frisbees. Had Pasqualoni had the foresight to get Damien Rhodes on the field more often as a third or fourth receiver, Bembo would not have had the opportunity to tarnish the field with his presence.

[Knee-Jerk Analysis - Big East Studs]
Greg Lee and Chris Henry are special players. And not just "good college player" special. Rather, legitimate NFL All-Pro potential special.

Considering Marvin Harrison never in his Syracuse career put up a rating over 100, Greg Lee did some kind of wonderful with Pittsburgh. With Lee's and Henry's size, quickness, and sure hands, there's no reason these two guys should fall out of the top half of the NFL draft when it comes time to call their names.

Probably the most surprising rating was that of Tres Moses from Rutgers. Built a little bit like Santana Moss, I had no idea the productivity Moses turned in in 2004. He just may have been the best kept secret in the Big East in 2004.

Stats, Inc. has developed another pass receiver rating formula that I just stumbled across that I like about the same as the method used to complied the above ratings. I have yet to test this formula, but it does include a statistic that I find interesting - drop percentage. Drop percentage is an interesting statistic that I've been pondering for a while and have been attempting to apply to a rating that I've been working on called "Lost Opportunity." However, since drop percentage does not quantify production (the very nature of a drop indicates that no production can be valued because of its ambiguity and speculative nature of what would have occurred had the pass been caught), it is probably not the best way to gauge actual on-field production.

With that said, here is the formula developed by Allan Spear:

Sliding scales were developed for each category and the five category scores were then combined for an overall rating. The maximum a receiver can score is 100, which would mean he is on pace to break just about every record possible. As a rule of thumb, a score of 50 means you are a good receiver. Sixty puts you among the elite of the league and anything above 70 is outstanding.

YAC Avg = (YAC / catches - 1) / 4.5
This can only be between 1.0 and 0.0

Drop Avg = (((catches / catches + drops) - .8 )/.4)
This can only be between 0 and .5

TD Avg = ((tds/games)/1.25)

Catch Avg = ((catches/game - 2)/5.5)
This can only be between 1.0 and 0.0

1stDown Avg = ((1stdowns/catch)/2)

Receiver rating = (YAC Avg + Drop Avg + TD Avg + catch avg + 1stdown avg) / 4

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