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Figuring Out The Red Zone TD Rate Puzzle

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While Red Zone Touchdown Rate (RZTDR) is a very important statistic to take into account when looking at WRs, it can be one of the more random measurables because of the small sample size. In fact, only Davante Adams had more than 30 red zone targets in 2013. So many factors, such as poor QB play, can alter a WR’s RZTDR. Poor red zone play by a QB can really hurt even the most efficient of WR’s RZTDR.

To help us better understand what happened during any given season we can use msRZTD (a players red zone receiving TDs divided by his team’s red zone receiving TDs). A WR with a lower RZTDR paired with a respectable msRZTD percentage probably hints toward the idea that the QB play the WR had to deal with was poor. At the same time, a WR with a high RZTDR, but a lower msRZTD percentage may suggest that the QB he was paired with was very good inside the 20, or that the WR was simply underused. Using the RotoViz College WR Stat Filter to find red zone targets, it will be pretty obvious which WRs were underused. Let’s take a look at this year’s prospect’s RZTDR as well as their market share red zone touchdowns.

 RZTDRmsRZTDs
Bruce Ellington100%27%
Martavis Bryant67%21%
Kelvin Benjamin54%32%
Josh Huff50%38%
Brandon Coleman50%27%
L'Damian Washington45%38%
Alex Neutz43%40%
Jarvis Landry40%44%
Davante Adams36%39%
Mike Evans36%17%
Brandin Cooks33%40%
Mike Davis29%40%
Devin Street25%20%
Odell Beckham Jr.22%22%
Cody Latimer20%15%
Jared Abbrederis19%19%
Sammy Watkins17%11%
Marquise Lee17%14%
Paul Richardson15%33%
Jordan Matthews14%33%
Cody Hoffman13%20%
Donte Moncrief13%25%
Allen Robinson6%9%

Takeaways:

– At 5’9 196 lbs. it’s hard to say Ellington was underutilized because of his perfect RZTDR and low msRZTD rating. His production was probably the result of great QB play and/or great play design. As shown by our Pre Combine Midterm, Ellington doesn’t have much going for him.

– Clemson really underused Martavis Bryant in the red zone, only throwing to the 6’4 WR 6 times (4TDs) inside the 20 all season.

– Rutgers probably underused the 6’5 Brandon Coleman as well as he only saw 8 red zone targets all season even with a 50% conversion rate.

– Jarvis Landry had the highest msRZTD rating of any WR on our list combining that with a great 40% RZTDR. Landry is a largely undervalued red zone threat in the scouting community.

– Davante Adams saw more red zone targets than any WR in 2013 (36), which is probably a part of the reason his msRZTD rating is high, but he still posted a great RZTDR. Adams is clearly a stud in the red zone and is probably the most well rounded WR in the 2014 class.

– For a player who is often praised for his jump ball ability and massive size, Mike Evans posted a very low msRZTD rating even though his RZTDR is a solid 36%. His 11 red zone targets in 2013 suggests he was underused by Texas A&M.

– Jordan Matthew’s and Paul Richardson‘s atrocious RZTDR pair with their respectable msRZTD rating suggest their team’s QB play inside the 20 was below average and cost them a chance to hit pay dirt.

– Allen Robinson was a disaster in the red zone in 2013. He only scored on 1/16 red zone targets and his red zone TD was 1/11 Penn State had last season. Interestingly, Robinson’s 2012 RZTDR was 33% with a 36% msRZTD percentage. That massive drop will be questioned more and more as we move closer to the draft. As Ryan Rouillard pointed out in his article on what to root for during the combine, AR’s vertical score in Indy may be telling.

Now that we’ve figured out the 2014 WR class red zone puzzle a little more, let’s take a look at which teams struggled scoring TDs once they hit the red zone in 2013 and could use one of this year’s red zone dominators. Here are the teams in the bottom half of the league in the red zone from best to worst:

 Red Zone TD Rate
Cleveland52.78%
Minnesota52.08%
Carolina52.08%
Washington52.00%
Arizona52.00%
Atlanta51.92%
San Diego51.52%
Tampa Bay51.43%
St. Louis51.02%
Green Bay50.72%
New York J50.00%
Houston48.78%
Buffalo47.73%
New York G47.22%
Baltimore46.15%
Jacksonville43.90%

It’s far from a coincidence that only 3 of those bottom 16 teams made the playoffs. At first glance, Cleveland, Minnesota, Carolina, Washington, San Diego, St. Louis, the Jets, Buffalo, and Baltimore should all be in search of a WR at some point during this draft. The smarter teams on this list will likely highly consider red zone prowess in their selections.

There has been no experiment I know of on whether msRZTDs alone can predict WRs who go on to have successful careers or not, but when accompanied with a WRs RZTDR it can provide some insight as to what may have happened throughout the season.

As always, if you would like to see a player added to this table hit me up on twitter.

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