Once again one of the things that became most apparent while doing Draftageddon was the receiver pool was again pretty crappy. I had a thought to try to use some of the targeting data to see if that was atypical, and found…well I found little but I figured you'd like to see it anyway. See if you can spot anything of interest in here or suggestions for further study.
That link goes back to when this same thing happened in 2012. Our post-draft consensus has usually been fairly accurate for most positions, but we were all over the place with the WRs. Jeremy Gallon was the 9th WR taken and led the conference in Bill Connelly's imperfect RYPR stat, with Abbrederis (3rd), Kenny Bell (7th), Allen Robinson (not drafted) and Roy Roundtree (12th) rounding out the top five. Last year's RYPR leaders were Lippett (our 9th receiver taken), Carroo (not drafted), Devin Smith (6th), Michael Thomas (not drafted) and Mike Dudek (not drafted). Things, e.g. injuries, happened. But we were correct that neither year was very good:
Click to big it make.
I chose yards per target to show this because it removes sacks, throwaways, and interceptions—you know, more quarterback-y things—to get a sense of overall conference receiver play. When you line up former Michigan WRs by YPT it passes a sanity check, e.g. the only listed WR in the NFL draft from the Big Ten was Denard. Last year—and yes a particularly awful year for quarterbacks was part of the story—was back to a low for receivers, and seven guys from that went in the NFL Draft (though the Dolphins are making Lippett a corner and I have no idea what the Texans saw in Mumphery).
The noise increases dramatically when you make these into team stats. Here's the Big Ten from 2005-2014
Quarterback is important, but as national trend data suggested in the first chart, the spread made a big difference, allowing teams with less talent to occupy safeties as well as Wisconsin's running game always has. Note for example that Lloyd Carr's not particularly well-thought-out offense peaked at 8.11 in 2006 with Breaston, Manningham, Arrington, and a healthy junior Chad Henne, a mark that was destroyed by four teams of the Roundtree/Hemingway/Gallon/Funchess era. (Yes the Threetsheridammit year was the worst of all).
Interestingly not all of these years corresponded to the amount of NFL drafted talent. Observe:
|Santonio Holmes (1st)||Ted Ginn (1st)||James Hardy (2nd)||Brian Robiskie (2nd)|
|Brandon Williams (3rd)||Anthony Gonzalez (1st)||Devin Thomas (2nd)||Deon Butler (3rd)|
|Jason Avant (4th)||Roy Hall (5th)||Mario Manningham (3rd)||Derrick Williams (3rd)|
|Michael Robinson (4th)||Steve Breaston (5th)||Paul Hubbard (6th)||Brian Hartline (4th)|
|Jonathan Orr (6th)||Adrian Arrington (7th)|
|Ethan Kilmer (7th)|
|Arrelious Benn (2nd)||Tandon Doss (4th)||A.J. Jenkins (1st)||Denard Robinson (5th)|
|Eric Decker (3rd)||DeVier Posey (3rd)|
|Keshawn Martin (4th)|
|Nick Toon (4th)|
|B.J. Cunningham (6th)|
|Marvin McNutt (6th)|
|Jeremy Ebert (7th)|
|Junior Hemingway (7th)|
|Allen Robinson (2nd)||Devin Smith (2nd)|
|Cody Latimer (2nd)||Devin Funchess (2nd)|
|Jared Abbrederis (5th)||Keith Mumphery (5th)|
|Quincy Enunwa (6th)||Kenny Bell (5th)|
|Jeremy Gallon (7th)||Stefon Diggs (5th)|
|Tony Lippett (5th)|
|Evan Spencer (6th)|
Obviously it's not just the NFL draft picks moving the needle, but you do see things above, like how the 2011 shot the Big Ten way up in YPT until it graduated, leaving a far less productive generation.
I'm still trying to see if any of these stats can predict individual leaps, which is the real meat.
UPDATE ON THAT:
So far I've taken the top five WRs in the conference by RYPR for each year since 2006 and looked at whether someone like Darboh (69.8 RYPR) or Chesson (22.7 RYPR) ever broke into that group. Some Big Ten players who made a leap from Darboh to pretty good were 2012 Roy Roundtree, 2006 Anthony Gonzalez (OSU), 2008 Jordan Norwood (PSU), and 2014 Tony Lippett (68.4 for MSU in 2013). There were a bunch of younger guys who made a larger freshman-to-sophomore jump, but those are the comps for a guy at Darboh's stage. That Lippett was in there is encouraging since he too emerged from a cratered passing game to the #1 guy.