FanPost

Broncos Receivers over the past 5 years- YAC%, CATCH% and CONV%

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The passing game has many moving parts. The QB gets the majority of the focus - rightfully so -, but you also have the offensive line and receivers to consider. I'm going to focus on the receivers. This is going to be done by looking at some of the more informative stats that are being tracked now - targets, catch rate, yards after catch and conversion rate. How have the Broncos receivers done over the past five years? How do they compare to the rest of the league? First lets define some of the critical stats:

Target: an instance where the QB intended the ball for the receiver

Catch rate: receptions/targets (how often does a ball thrown at him turn into a catch)

Yards after catch rate (YAC%): YAC/yards receiving

Conversion: a catch that results in a first down or a touchdown

Conversion rate (Conv%): (first downs + touchdowns)/targets

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A few points that will be brought out during the following analysis of the Broncos receivers:

1. More accurate QBs will allow players to get more YAC because the generally hit guys in-stride on routes that are designed to hit moving receivers.

2. RBs have huge YAC numbers relative to WRs and TEs - this is league-wide. If a RB catches the ball 5 yards behind the LOS then gains 5 yards on the catch (tackled 5 yards beyond the LOS), he gets 10 yards after the catch even though he only is credited with 5 receiving yards. Many RBs end up with YAC% that is greater than 100% - meaning that they caught a lot of balls behind the LOS and turned those into positive yards.

3. Guys with huge numbers of targets are the guys who the offense is designed around AND who the QB trusts. It's very rare for a guy with a low catch rate for his position to get a lot of targets. Generally the only guys who do this are WRs whose primarily role is running the fly pattern (e.g. Torrey Smith - 44.5% catch rate, or VJax - 49.0% catch rate).

4. The guys with the high conversion rates are generally the most trusted receivers on the team - for good reason

What is average?

So before we get into Bronco-specific stats here are the league average data over the past 5 years for CATCH%, YAC% and CONV% broken down by position - with the overall average in the first column

5-yr average RB TE WR
catch % 65% 74% 65% 59%
conv % 39% 29% 44% 43%
YAC % 59% 102% 43% 35%

So how do the Broncos receivers compare to the league averages? - read on. I left out guys with fewer than 10 targets. Also keep in mind the differences inherent in offensive systems and QBs over the past 5 years - which are huge for the Broncos.

2008 - Cutler at QB

(1DN = number of receiving first downs)


REC TAR TD YAC 1DN % YAC Catch% Conv %
Peyton Hillis RB 14 19 1 141 9 79% 73.7% 53%
Tony Scheffler TE 40 60 3 201 28 31% 66.7% 52%
Daniel Graham TE 32 50 4 199 20 51% 64.0% 48%
Brandon Stokley WR 49 85 3 162 35 31% 57.6% 45%
Darrell Jackson WR 12 21 1 53 8 28% 57.1% 43%
Brandon Marshall WR 104 183 6 411 65 32% 56.8% 39%
Eddie Royal WR 91 129 5 343 43 35% 70.5% 37%
Nate Jackson WR 11 17 1 39 4 46% 64.7% 29%
Tatum Bell RB 10 15 0 71 3 125% 66.7% 20%
Michael Pittman RB 10 13 0 101 1 90% 76.9% 8%


By position group Cutler threw 127 times to the the TEs (Nate Jackson was really a TE), 47 times to the RBs (there were a few other targets to the myriad of RBs we were forced to use that year - Pope, Hall and Martinez) and 418 times to the WRs. While Pittman only got 13 balls thrown his way, he caught 77% of them. However, only one of his tartgets resulted in a first down or TD. Eddie Royal looked great catching 71% of the balls thrown his way - good enough for top 10 in the league, but only 37% of his targets resulted in a first down or TD. Compare that to Scheffler who converted on 52% of his targets - which was top 10 for TEs that year (Shiancoe lead all TEs with 63%).

Here are the averages for all qualifying NFL receivers for 2008

% YAC catch% conv %
overall 59% 66% 38%
RB 101% 74% 29%
TE 43% 65% 43%
WR 32% 60% 43%

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via 25.media.tumblr.com

2009 - Orton at QB


REC TAR TD YAC 1DN % YAC Catch% Conv %
Brandon Stokley WR 19 33 4 199 15 61% 57.6% 58%
Jabar Gaffney WR 54 88 2 261 36 36% 61.4% 43%
Brandon Marshall WR 101 154 10 503 56 45% 65.6% 43%
Tony Scheffler TE 31 50 2 182 19 44% 62.0% 42%
Daniel Graham TE 28 42 1 201 14 70% 66.7% 36%
Knowshon Moreno RB 28 41 2 213 10 100% 68.3% 29%
Eddie Royal WR 37 79 0 121 23 35% 46.8% 29%
Brandon Lloyd WR 8 18 0 24 5 21% 44.4% 28%
Correll Buckhalter RB 31 38 0 259 8 108% 81.6% 21%

The first thing that should jump out at you here is that Stokley had 19 catches and 19 conversions. Every ball that he caught results in a first down or a TD. So while his catch rate was average (19 catches on 33 targets), his conversion rate was #3 among WRs that year. Buckhalter's catch rate was quite good, but his conversion was below average even for RB standards. BMarsh' 66% catch rate was above average but not good enough for the top 10 among WRs that year. Eddie Royal was thrown at 79 times and only converted 23 of those (no TDs) - 29%. That is horrible for a WR and was third worst in the league among qualifying WRs (Josh Morgan and Deon Branch were worse). In 2009 the Broncos targeted WRs 372 times, RBs 79 times and TEs 92 times.

2009 averages for the league (qualifiers only)

% YAC catch% conv %
overall 59% 66% 39%
RB 104% 75% 30%
TE 43% 65% 42%
WR 36% 59% 44%


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2010 - Orton (13 starts) and Tebow (3 starts) at QB


REC TAR TD YAC 1DN % YAC Catch% Conv %
Brandon Lloyd WR 77 153 11 198 72 14% 50.3% 54%
Demaryius Thomas WR 22 39 2 139 15 49% 56.4% 44%
Jabar Gaffney WR 65 112 2 203 42 23% 58.0% 39%
Knowshon Moreno RB 37 48 3 373 15 100% 77.1% 38%
Eddie Royal WR 59 105 3 381 32 61% 56.2% 33%
Correll Buckhalter RB 28 39 2 256 9 107% 71.8% 28%
Dan Gronkowski TE 8 13 0 28 3 43% 61.5% 23%
Daniel Graham TE 18 37 0 42 5 28% 48.6% 14%

We threw to KnoMo quite a bit and he caught 37 of the 48 balls intended for him. His catch rate was good but not great (Pierre Thomas had 29 catches on 29 targets in 2010), but his conversion rate was quite good for a RB (38%). Eddie Royal's conversion rate (33%) continued to be below average even while his catch rate improved significantly relative to 2009. Lloyd had the second worst catch rate on the team despite having the highest number of targets. Lloyd's conversion rate (54%) was top 10 among WRs. It is rare for any receiver to have a conversion rate higher than his catch rate, yet Lloyd did this in 2010. You might have also noticed that Brandon Lloyd does not get yards after the catch. This his been his MO throughout his career. DT and Royal both had good YAC% this year, but we most remember that McJedi loved to throw DT the quick "screen" that relies on your WR's ability to beat the man covering him after catching the ball. As a team we threw 409 balls to WRs, 87 balls to WRs and only 50 balls to TEs. Those 50 TE targets only resulted in 26 receptions and 8 conversions. Arguably we had the worst group of TEs (or at least the worst-utilized) in the NFL in 2010.

2010 average for the league qualifiers (overall and by position)

% YAC catch% conv %
overall 59% 65% 38%
RB 102% 75% 29%
TE 44% 64% 43%
WR 35% 59% 43%


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2011 - Orton (5 starts) and Tebow (11 starts) at QB

REC TAR TD YAC 1DN % YAC Catch% Conv %
Eric Decker WR 44 95 8 188 29 31% 46.3% 39%
Brandon Lloyd WR 70 150 5 148 46 15% 46.7% 34%
Demaryius Thomas WR 32 70 4 110 24 20% 45.7% 40%
Lance Ball RB 16 32 1 130 8 88% 50.0% 28%
Matthew Willis WR 18 36 1 99 15 37% 50.0% 44%
Daniel Fells TE 19 31 3 88 13 34% 61.3% 52%
Eddie Royal WR 19 49 1 69 8 45% 38.8% 18%
Willis McGahee RB 12 19 1 47 2 92% 63.2% 16%
Knowshon Moreno RB 11 15 1 76 3 75% 73.3% 27%
Donte Rosario TE 7 11 0 34 4 29% 63.6% 36%

Lloyd only played 4 games with the Broncos in 2011. He had 19 catches on 33 targets (57.5%), 15 first downs (0 TD) - 45% conversion with the Broncos. McGahee did not have a single reception while TT was playing QB. Eddie Royal had a pathetic year although it's hard to fault any of the receivers this year since KO was great at completing the 5 yards pass on 3rd and 7 while TT was unable to hit his receivers more than half of the time. Fells was really the only bright spot with 16 conversions on 19 catches (31 targets). The only silver lining is that 177 of the 248 catches listed above went for a first down or a TD (71%) so when we were actually getting completions they were moving the chains or putting points on the board. Compare that to 2012 where 66% of Manning's completions went for first downs or TDs - they big difference being that Manning completed more than twice as many passes as TT. In 2011 we threw 349 balls to WRs, 66 balls to RBs and only 42 balls to TEs. Unlike in 2010 a large number of those balls to TEs resulted in catches (26) and conversions (20).

2011 averages for qualifiers

% YAC catch% conv %
Overall 58% 64% 39%
RB 101% 74% 30%
TE 42% 63% 45%
WR 37% 59% 43%

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via blogs.denverpost.com

2012 - PFM (16 regular season starts) at QB

REC TAR TD YAC 1DN % YAC Catch% Conv %
Virgil Green TE 5 6 0 59 4 94% 83.3% 67%
Brandon Stokley WR 45 58 5 144 30 26% 77.6% 60%
Eric Decker WR 85 123 13 290 52 27% 69.1% 53%
Demaryius Thomas WR 94 141 10 538 60 38% 66.7% 50%
Lance Ball RB 7 11 1 34 4 56% 63.6% 45%
Knowshon Moreno RB 21 26 0 133 11 80% 80.8% 42%
Joel Dreessen TE 41 58 5 154 19 43% 70.7% 41%
Jacob Tamme TE 52 85 2 215 29 39% 61.2% 36%
Willis McGahee RB 26 33 0 240 10 109% 78.8% 30%
Ronnie Hillman RB 10 12 0 73 3 118% 83.3% 25%
Matthew Willis WR 10 22 0 25 5 28% 45.5% 23%


I included Virgil Green because I am expecting him to be a bigger part of the passing game this year. Last year, he was really effective in a very small sample size with 4 conversions on 6 targets. After seeing these numbers I'm glad we cut Matthew Willis. Stokley, Decker and Thomas all were impressive last year both in terms of catch rate and in terms of conversion rate. Stokley's 60% was tied for best among WRs. Stokley's 77.6% catch rate was also best among WRs (there were only 4 WRs aboev 70% - Harvin, Cobb and Manningham were the others. The average conversion rate for WRs last year was 44%, so both Decker (53%) and DT (50%) were well above average. If you want to see what s difference the QB can make, compare Decker and Stokley's numbers with Orton and TT throwing to them and PFM throwing to them - dramatically better. In 2012 PFM threw 344 balls to WRs, 82 balls to RBs and 149 balls to TEs. 2012 saw a dramatic increase in balls to TEs relative to the previous three years.

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via extras.mnginteractive.com

2012 averages for qualifiers

% YAC catch% conv %
overall 59% 65% 40%
RB 103% 74% 30%
TE 42% 66% 46%
WR 36% 60% 44%

So what does 2013 hold in store for the Broncos receiving corps? Welker is definitely going to alter things. So I was curious to see how he has fared in these three metrics over the past 5 years.

Wes Welker's Numbers 2007-2012

REC TAR YDS TD YAC 1DN % YAC catch% conv %
2007 112 145 1,175 8 626 65 53% 77.2% 50%
2008 111 150 1,165 3 751 57 64% 74.0% 40%
2009 123 162 1,348 4 709 71 53% 75.9% 46%
2010 86 122 848 7 411 47 48% 70.5% 44%
2011 122 172 1,569 9 732 77 47% 70.9% 50%
2012 118 174 1,354 6 702 72 52% 67.8% 45%

Generally Welker has been at the top of the league in terms of WR catch%. His conversion rate and his YAC% are also well above average for a WR. As a result of his prowess and how he was used in NE, his total number of YAC has lead the league multiple times. His conversion rate is about average for a WR with only 2007 and 2011 being above average. Without a doubt Welker will have fewer targets in in 2013 than he saw in 2011 or 2012. I would, however, expect him to be used in a similar fashion - getting a lot of first downs (high conversion rate) and getting a lot of YAC.

Thanks for reading. Go Broncos!

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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