Garrett Wilson, Drake London, and more: Breaking down the analytics of the New York Jets’ top WR targets in the 2022 NFL draft
After comparing some of the 2022 NFL draft’s top EDGE prospects in a few key statistics, it’s time to do the same for the wide receiver position, which is yet another spot where the New York Jets are expected to look for help early in the draft.
Here are the eight prospects we’ll be comparing today:
- Garrett Wilson, Ohio State, age 21.6 (#10 overall prospect on NFL Mock Draft Database’s Consensus Big Board)
- Drake London, USC, age 20.6 (#12)
- Jameson Williams, Alabama, age 21.0 (#18)
- Chris Olave, Ohio State, age 21.7 (#19)
- Treylon Burks, Arkansas, age 22.0 (#21)
- Jahan Dotson, Penn State, age 22.0 (#33)
- George Pickens, Georgia, age 21.0 (#45)
- Christian Watson, North Dakota State, age 21.9 (#50)
All statistics seen below are for the 2021 season, save for Georgia’s George Pickens, whose 2021 campaign was limited due to injuries. We’ll look at Pickens’ numbers from his 2020 sophomore season.
All rankings seen below are amongst 443 qualified FBS wide receivers (30+ targets). For the rankings of Christian Watson (who played against FCS competition) and Pickens, we’ll list where their statistics would have ranked among qualifiers in 2021.
Yards per route run
Looking at a player’s raw receiving yardage total can be misleading due to the differences in the number of opportunities that each player gets. Some players play a high percentage of their team’s snaps and some play a more situational role. Some players play in a pass-heavy offense and some don’t.
By looking at how many yards a receiver produces per play in which he runs a route, we get an efficiency metric that compares everyone on the same plane.
Here’s how the players fared in yards per route run:
- Christian Watson: 4.33 (100th percentile*) – 801 yards on 105 routes
- Treylon Burks: 3.57 (99th) – 1,100 yards on 308 routes
- Drake London: 3.56 (99th) – 1,084 yards on 308 routes
- Jameson Williams: 3.12 (96th) – 1,561 yards on 500 routes
- Garrett Wilson: 3.00 (95th) – 1,058 yards on 353 routes
- Jahan Dotson: 2.56 (87th) – 1,182 yards on 461 routes
- Chris Olave: 2.29 (78th) – 936 yards on 408 routes
- 2020 George Pickens: 1.93 (61st*) – 513 yards on 266 routes
2021 FBS WR average: 1.68
Burks, London, Williams, and Wilson were all dominant even when their yardage is contextualized on a per-snap basis. Dotson and Olave were excellent but not quite as electric as the other four players.
Watson obliterated his competition at North Dakota State. On the surface, his total of 800 yards in 12 games (66.7 per game) doesn’t seem noteworthy. But the Bison were an extremely run-heavy team. Watson only ran 15.4 routes per game, which is less than half of most starting receivers (London averaged 38.5 routes, for example). For Watson, putting up 66.7 yards on just 15.4 routes is the “man amongst boys” type of stuff that you want to see from an FCS prospect.
When we last saw Pickens on a full-time basis, which was during his 2020 sophomore season, he wasn’t quite producing at the level of a top-tier NFL prospect. He caught for 513 yards on 266 routes in eight games (64.1 yards on 33.3 routes).
Missed tackles forced per reception
Yards-after-catch is a popular statistic to measure how good a player is with the ball in his hands. Another way to evaluate this facet of the game is by looking at how often a player makes defenders miss.
Here’s how the group fared when it came to missed tackles forced per reception:
- Garrett Wilson: 0.271 (88th percentile) – 19 MTF on 70 receptions
- Drake London: 0.250 (85th) – 22 MTF on 88 receptions
- Treylon Burks: 0.231 (81st) – 15 MTF on 65 receptions
- Jameson Williams: 0.154 (55th) – 12 MTF on 78 receptions
- Christian Watson: 0.140 (51st*) – 6 MTF on 43 receptions
- Jahan Dotson: 0.099 (33rd) – 9 MTF on 91 receptions
- 2020 George Pickens: 0.083 (27th*) – 3 MTF on 36 receptions
- Chris Olave: 0.031 (7th) – 2 MTF on 65 receptions
2021 FBS WR average: 0.153
The clear leaders here are Wilson, London, and Burks. Each player forced at least 15 missed tackles while doing so efficiently.
Williams and Watson ranked in the middle of the pack while Dotson, Pickens, and Olave showed relatively little when it came to making defenders miss. Dotson did force a decent total of nine missed tackles, but over a large sample of 91 receptions (T-12th in FBS), it’s a below-average number.
How good is the player at catching the “easy” balls? That’s what we learn from the drop rate statistic (drops divided by drops-plus-receptions), as drops are usually credited on plays where the receiver should have easily caught the ball.
Here’s how the players fared in drop rate:
- Jahan Dotson: 2.2% (93rd percentile) – 2 drops, 91 receptions
- 2020 George Pickens: 5.3% (66th*) – 2 drops, 36 receptions
- Treylon Burks: 5.7% (62nd) – 4 drops, 65 receptions
- Jameson Williams: 7.1% (53rd) – 6 drops, 78 receptions
- Chris Olave: 7.1% (53rd) – 5 drops, 65 receptions
- Garrett Wilson: 7.9% (45th) – 6 drops, 70 receptions
- Drake London: 8.3% (41st) – 8 drops, 88 receptions
- Christian Watson: 10.4% (25th*) – 5 drops, 43 receptions
2021 FBS WR average: 8.0%
Despite his overall prowess, Watson actually struggled mightily with drops. He flubbed five passes while only catching 43.
Interestingly, none of these prospects were great at avoiding drops except for Dotson, who racked up 91 catches in 2021 while dropping just two passes. Nobody else reached even the 70th percentile among qualifiers.
While drop rate tells us about how well a player catches the easy passes, contested-catch rate tells us about how well they catch the difficult ones.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. What percentage of their contested targets did the player catch? This statistic is based on tracking from Pro Football Focus, which tracks contested targets and contested catches for all NFL and college players.
Here’s how the players fared in contested-catch rate:
- Drake London: 67.9% (92nd percentile) – 19 for 28
- 2020 George Pickens: 64.3% (86th*) – 9 for 14
- Chris Olave: 62.5% (86th) – 10 for 16
- Garrett Wilson: 61.5% (84th) – 8 for 13
- Christian Watson: 50.0% (69th*) – 3 for 6
- Treylon Burks: 43.8% (50th) – 10 for 23
- Jahan Dotson: 41.7% (45th) – 5 for 12
- Jameson Williams: 40.0% (42nd) – 4 for 10
2021 FBS WR average: 43.8%
The nearly 6-foot-4 London led the way as he caught a whopping 67.9% of his contested targets. This came on a high volume, as London led the nation with 19 contested catches, three more than any other player despite playing in only eight games.
Pickens (6-foot-3) showed potential back in 2020 as he snatched nine of his 14 contested targets.
The Buckeye duo of Olave and Wilson each stand at right around six feet, but that doesn’t stop them from being able to go up and get it. Each player caught over 60% of their contested opportunities in 2021.
The rest of the bunch was fairly mediocre in this category.
It’s important to keep in mind that we’re looking at a very small sample size in this category. Adding or subtracting just one contested reception would have had a major effect on the ranking of any player listed above.
Catches Added is a statistic I created that appeared in previous articles this offseason. It combines a player’s drop rate and contested-catch rate in an attempt to get an overall estimate of the quality of his hands.
Essentially, Catches Added combines two things:
- A player’s actual number of drops versus the number of drops he would have if he dropped passes at the FBS average rate for WRs (8.0%)
- A player’s actual number of contested catches versus the number he would have if he caught contested targets at the FBS average rate for WRs (43.8%)
We’ll use Drake London as an example.
London had 8 drops and 88 receptions. At that volume, if he had a drop rate of 8.0%, he would have dropped 7.7 passes. London dropped 0.3 more passes than expected, so he had a minus-0.3 margin in the drop category.
London had 19 contested catches on 28 contested targets. If he caught 43.8% of his 28 contested targets, he’d catch 12.3 contested passes. London caught 6.7 more contested passes than expected, so he had a plus-6.7 margin in the drop category.
Combine London’s minus-0.3 drops with his plus-6.7 contested catches and you get his total of plus-6.4 Catches Added.
Here’s how the group fared when it came to Catches Added:
- Drake London: +6.4 (97th percentile); -0.3 drop, +6.7 contested
- Jahan Dotson: +5.2 (95th); +5.4 drop, -0.2 contested
- 2020 George Pickens: +3.9 (90th*); +1.0 drop, +2.9 contested
- Chris Olave: +3.6 (89th); +0.6 drop, +3.0 contested
- Garrett Wilson: +2.4 (76th); +0.1 drop, +2.3 contested
- Treylon Burks: +1.5 (67th); +1.5 drop, 0.0 contested
- Jameson Williams: +0.3 (51st); +0.7 drop, -0.4 contested
- Christian Watson: -0.8 (35th*); -1.2 drop, +0.4 contested
Everyone landed on the positive side except for Watson, who was done in by his drop woes.
London, Dotson, and Olave’s hands were outstanding in 2021 while Pickens flashed excellent hands in 2020. London and Olave relied on contested catches to climb the board. Dotson relied on avoiding drops.
Pickens had the best balance of any player in the bunch, as he was the only receiver in our eight-player group to net a plus-1.0 or better in both categories.
Wilson and Burks were solid, relying on contested catches and drops, respectively.
Williams was mediocre, catching almost exactly as many passes as expected (at least when it comes to his drop and contested-catch totals). His drop rate (7.1%) and contested-catch rate (40.0%) were both right around average.
Finally, here’s a roundup of each player’s percentile rankings in the five categories above, listed from best to worst based on their average percentile ranking across the five stats.
|Player||Y/RR||MTF/Rec||Drop %||CC %||CA||Average|