Scouting reports are a quick way to get a sense of a player’s characteristics, what he does well, where he struggles, and the things that NFL teams are likely to assume he needs to work on. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything we read in a scouting report is accurate. There are certain traits, such as route running ability, that are hard to quantify and therefore confirm. However, we can get a sense of a player’s ability to catch the ball by reviewing his reception percentage. If a player successfully converts more than 75% of targets into receptions it would be hard to rule that he does, in fact, have poor hands.
Denzel Mims was known for making circus catches while at Baylor but his hands have been called into question based on seven drops in 2019. While a prospect’s propensity for drops could be a problem, we can’t look at them in isolation. They need to be compared to targets. If a player draws 100-plus targets in a season, seven drops might not be a massive problem. Given the collegiate play-by-play data that I have, I’m not able to extract drops, but I can pinpoint target and reception totals.1 With this information, we can evaluate the accuracy of scouting notes surrounding the catch abilities of the 2020 WR class.
In addition to calculating catch rates, I also tallied total collegiate targets and target market shares by season and career.2 Here’s how the 2020 WR class stacks up.
|Player||School||Targets||Recs||Percentage||2016 TGT MS||2017 TGT MS||2018 TGT MS||2019 TGT MS||Career|
|KJ Hill||Ohio State Buckeyes||236||188||80||5||16||16||17||14|
|Laviska Shenault||Colorado Buffaloes||192||148||77||0||2||25||19||12|
|Devin Duvernay||Texas Longhorns||225||170||76||7||4||12||27||13|
|Justin Jefferson||LSU Tigers||179||135||75||0||0||22||21||13|
|Quintez Cephus||Wisconsin Badgers||106||80||75||2||11||0||22||9|
|Dezmon Patmon||Washington State Cougars||206||153||74||0||7||11||12||8|
|Michael Pittman||USC Trojans||226||164||73||2||7||18||24||13|
|CeeDee Lamb||Oklahoma Sooners||224||161||72||0||15||22||22||15|
|Lynn Bowden||Kentucky Wildcats||157||113||72||0||6||28||23||14|
|Brandon Aiyuk||Arizona State Sun Devils||140||98||70||0||0||10||28||9|
|Jerry Jeudy||Alabama Crimson Tide||222||153||69||0||8||22||26||14|
|Henry Ruggs||Alabama Crimson Tide||139||96||69||0||6||16||13||9|
|Antonio Gibson||Memphis Tigers||49||34||69||0||0||2||12||3|
|James Proche||SMU Mustangs||422||286||68||19||12||30||33||23|
|Van Jefferson||Florida Gators||248||169||68||16||17||18||14||16|
|Isaiah Hodgins||Oregon State Beavers||264||176||67||0||13||21||30||17|
|Jeff Thomas||Miami Hurricanes||124||83||67||0||7||14||11||8|
|Tyler Johnson||Minnesota Golden Gophers||303||201||66||6||28||35||34||26|
|Collin Johnson||Texas Longhorns||279||183||66||10||18||20||12||16|
|Jauan Jennings||Tennessee Volunteers||210||138||66||16||2||15||26||15|
|Omar Bayless||Arkansas State Red Wolves||250||165||66||6||10||13||29||14|
|Juwan Johnson||Oregon Ducks||163||108||66||1||25||10||10||11|
|Austin Mack||Ohio State Buckeyes||109||72||66||1||8||7||9||6|
|Bryan Edwards||South Carolina Gamecocks||357||231||65||19||24||19||23||21|
|Chase Claypool||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||223||144||65||2||12||17||26||15|
|Quez Watkins||Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles||232||150||65||0||10||27||21||14|
|Kalija Lipscomb||Vanderbilt Commodores||303||194||64||15||16||29||17||19|
|Gabriel Davis||UCF Knights||237||151||64||0||9||21||27||14|
|Cody White||Michigan State Spartans||210||134||64||0||12||14||21||12|
|Tee Higgins||Clemson Tigers||182||117||64||0||6||18||15||9|
|Tyrie Cleveland||Florida Gators||117||75||64||6||11||8||7||8|
|Trishton Jackson||Syracuse Orange||136||85||63||2||4||1||25||7|
|Donovan Peoples-Jones||Michigan Wolverines||164||102||62||0||12||20||14||12|
|Marquez Callaway||Tennessee Volunteers||151||92||61||1||12||22||14||12|
|KJ Hamler||Penn State Nittany Lions||158||97||61||0||0||19||25||10|
|Kendrick Rogers||Texas A&M Aggies||112||68||61||0||4||11||11||6|
|Denzel Mims||Baylor Bears||304||181||60||1||25||18||27||17|
|Darrell Stewart||Michigan State Spartans||247||148||60||1||18||18||19||15|
|Quartney Davis||Texas A&M Aggies||154||92||60||0||0||16||19||9|
|Binjimen Victor||Ohio State Buckeyes||128||77||60||2||10||6||13||8|
|Jalen Reagor||TCU Horned Frogs||249||147||59||0||12||29||20||15|
|KJ Osborn||Miami Hurricanes||238||139||58||3||13||29||18||15|
|Antonio Gandy-Golden||Liberty Flames||279||159||57||1||37||28||31||28|
|Darnell Mooney||Tulane Green Wave||261||150||57||20||22||28||25||24|
|Stephen Guidry||Mississippi State Bulldogs||77||43||56||0||0||11||14||6|
- Unfortunately for Mims, his catch rate may signal a lack of consistency as a receiver. To be fair, we can’t derive the context of his incompletions. Perhaps his athletic ability allowed him to put himself into situations in which Baylor’s passers could throw the ball his way, albeit into difficult situations for Mims to make a catch. Also, Baylor quarterbacks only completed 60% of passes while Mims was in Waco.
- K.J. Hill caught a supremely impressive 80% of targets as a Buckeye. During his collegiate tenure, Ohio State passers completed 66% of passing attempts.
- Antonio Gandy-Golden was able to post impressive market share numbers — as he played college ball at Liberty, this should be expected — but he caught less than 60% of his targets. Given that he was playing against inferior competition, this can fairly be viewed as a red flag.
- Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III both converted 69% of targets at Alabama. However, Jeudy drew 83 more targets while playing in only one more game than Ruggs III.
- While he doesn’t fall beneath any hard cutoff, Tee Higgins enthusiasts surely would like to see him sitting higher up the listing.
- Jalen Reagor, who is currently ranked fourth by Curtis Patrick in our rookie rankings, converted fewer than 60% of targets and owns the weakest reception percentage of all players in the RotoViz top 10.
- College data, in particular target data, is hard to come by and often needs to be scraped and compiled from a number of sources. As a result, the numbers presented may be slightly different than those you see elsewhere. (back)
- Career market share is calculated by dividing the total targets directed at a player by the total team targets in the seasons in which he played. It is not an average. (back)