Here it is:
#Browns WR Greg Little has disappointed in CLE, but of 28 WRs drafted in 2011, only AJ Green, Julio Jones and Torrey Smith have more catches
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) May 15, 2014
If you’re curious, those numbers are 260 catches, 174 catches, and 164 catches for the three named. Let’s look at them in some detail. Step on up, AJ Green!
You don’t need me to tell you that’s pretty damn good. Remember that his quarterback is Andy Dalton; those are eye popping numbers, and he is an elite wide receiver. Next, we have Julio Jones, who the Browns could have had but didn’t thanks to a draft day trade.
Those picks, incidentally, turned into Phil Taylor, Greg Little, Owen Marecic, Brandon Weeden, and with a couple of those extra picks, Trent Richardson. Trent Richardson turned into… Johnny Football (with the help of another pick or two). All of those players have been solid, except Weeden and Manziel, who hasn’t played yet, for the Browns.
Still, let’s stick to the receivers. Jones had a very fine rookie year, improved in his sophomore year, got hurt his junior year (to continue the metaphor). That’s still an excellent five game stretch, and the Falcons got what they asked for: a top flight receiver.
Torrey Smith, weighing in at #3.
Smith has followed the “three year career path” for receivers almost to the letter. A nice rookie season, a roughly equal second season, and a stellar third season.
Last, and sadly least, Greg Little.
Oh, Greg. This is a good example of why catch numbers don’t mean everything. He had more catches than everyone but Green his rookie season, but his yards per reception are terrible, and very few of his catches have been touchdowns. Green is a big guy — 6″ plus with enough muscle to be a solid red zone target — yet he has a small problem. He drops the ball. A lot. 2013 wasn’t so bad — his 6 drops were only tied for 19th in the AFC, and both Smith and Green dropped more passes. Still, if you only catch the ball 41 times, 6 drops is not good, either. That’s 10% of your passes. Pro Football Reference doesn’t keep track of targets; only catches. I got the 2013 drops stats from here. I haven’t been able to find drops stats from past seasons, sadly, but I recall from memory that he dropped at least 10 passes in each season. He’s stellar in Madden, but in real life… not so much.
Now, all of this was triggered by that Tweet, so mission accomplished, Twitter. I hope we all learned a valuable lesson: that lesson should be that total catches is a stupid stat without context unless it’s insanely high in a given year (90+).