An NFL Draft Blog

An NFL Draft Blog
Formerly known as the player rater.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Speed Receivers vs Big Receivers

An everlasting debate among NFL draft circles is taking the speed receiver over the tall receiver or visa-versa. Personally, I have always favored the speed receiver, but I decided to test which receivers get more yards; The Speed Receiver or the Big Receiver.

I decided to measure how many yards all the receivers in the NFL got based on their height. I want to start out by saying that I didn't count five receivers in my study; Miles Austin, Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Vincent Jackson, and Calvin Johnson. These 5 receivers are all 6'3 or taller and run a 40 yard dash in 4.40 seconds or less. Let's be honest; Calvin Johnson is 6'5, and he runs a 4.35 40 yard dash. Is he a big receiver, or is he a speed receiver? Well, there is no right answer. He is both. It wouldn't be fair to count any of those guys for either group.

I decided to see of the top 50 receivers in the NFL last season, in terms of yards gained, how many of them were 6'2 or taller (big), and how many of them were 6'1 or shorter (to be that short and in the top 50, by definition they almost have to be fast). So what were the results? 34 receivers were 6'1 or shorter, 16 were 6'2 or larger. Even if some of my readers thought that discounting players in the previous paragraph was a little unfair, the numbers are still completely staggering. So, now the question is, why?

The common conception among big receivers and little receivers is that the little guys are quick and often big play threats with the ball in their hands with the ball, but the big guys are bigger targets to hid with the football. But there is one factor that people have never really accounted for when evaluating the differences of these two types of players.

Let's compare two, imaginary players: Player A is 6'4 and runs a 4.47 40 yard dash; Player B is 5'10 and runs 4.47 40 yard dash. I think everyone should concede that being taller than Player B, Player A is a much longer strider than Player B; but Player B's feet move at quicker rate than player A's; for in order to go at the same speed that Player A is going at, his feet have to be quick for his strides are shorter. Not a lot of people realize this, but having quick, short strides can be an advantage in route running. See, having quick feet means that a player can reach top speed a little bit more quickly off the line of scrimmage and not lose much speed when changing directions. Quick feet also can change directions with a little bit more suddenness, for their legs have a natural ability to move faster. To explain why, suppose it takes two strides for both player A and player B to change directions at a 90 degree angle. Because player B has slightly quicker strides, two strides for him will take less time than the strides of player A. Even though it will only be about a quarter-second difference, with speed of the NFL game, that quarter-second can be vital in a player's route running ability. I am not saying height is a bad thing, but that speed is much more important; for there is no consequence for having good speed, but there is a small consequence for having height instead of speed.

Overall, lack of height in a receiver has a decent advantage in route running capabilities that being tall doesn't have. Just remember; height isn't a bad thing, but their is a small consequence in a receiver's skill when they are tall, yet there is no disadvantage to being fast.

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