POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s WRs

POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s WRs

If you all remember I did a series of articles in June of 2017 that looked at the departing starters from the 2016 season and who I thought would be replacing them for 2017.  With that I assigned a grade of “Upgrade“, “Downgrade” or “Draw‘.

What I’ll do first is look at each position, or unit, along the offense as of today and write down who I think will be the starter and why it will be that guy.  Then I’ll assign a ranking of “Upgrade” if I see an upgrade in player quality, “Downgrade’ if I see a lessening of talent or “Draw” if I think we’ll match last year’s player(s) in the position or unit. 

Might as well get this one out-of-the-way but it hurts me to even think about it – the 2018 Wide Receiver corps we’ll field this season.  Let’s look at who has left the team first.

WR Jester Weah was the poster boy for high-end talent and inconsistent play.  He came to Pitt in the 2013 recruiting class as a middling 3* recruit with his only Power 5 offer being ours.  He did have good ‘measurables’ coming out of high school as a 6’3″ gangly 193 lb pass catcher but there was something off about him from the time he reported into ’13’s fall camp and when he blossomed into a solid player in 2016.

I remember watching him in Paul Chryst’s open practices that fall and through into spring of the next season and what was obvious to everyone there was that he just couldn’t catch passes on any consistent basis.  I mean he’d high-point a circus catch one series and have the ball clang off of his hands the next.

Weah’s 2016 to 2017 performance:

As you can see (if you can see it) Weah had a drop in production overall even with five more pass reception last season. The lower TDs really hurt by going from 10 – which is a nice number for a WR to only four in ’17.

Weah 16weah 17

Of course the main play of his that sticks in our minds is his being caught from behind and tackled one yard short of the goal line on a long pass play in our 20-14 loss to Virginia Tech.  Needless to say he’s moved on and I’d say just about no Pitt fans are too broken up about his graduating.

Our other WR loss was a player who didn’t really have all that much impact in the passing game.  Quadree Henderson made his mark at Pitt as a kick returner and as a running back on jet sweeps.  He totaled 17 catches for 186 yards and zero TDs.  We’ll talk more about his leaving in our Special Teams article.

Of course having two below average QBs throwing the ball to them didn’t help our WRs last year either and let’s hope that problem is rectified with QB Kenny Pickett behind Center.  But still a team has to have talented receivers for him to throw to.

So, what do we have for 2018 then?  Well, our most productive WR coming back is SR Rafael Araujo-Lopes and you can see that he was a steady ballplayer in that he caught almost 80% of the passes thrown his way.  That is pretty damn good considering that doesn’t take subtract QB misfires.  Not too shabby especially compared to Weah’s poor 53% last year:

Lopes 17

Another stat to look at for a WR is what his “Success Rate” is and here the explanation for that.

Success Rate

A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.”

So with that it opens the eyes up even more when see that Lopes had a very good 57% rate in that category (Weah’s was 51% in his good 2016 year).  He’ll have to be even better as the WR1 this season.  The question though is who is going to be playing alongside Lopes in the two or three (maybe four sometimes) WR sets?

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