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The NFL is a league of assists. If a team has a quarterback who can uplift those around them and an offensive line that can protect them, chances are they are in a good position to make the playoffs.

While elite league quarterbacks can place the ball in narrow windows consistently, the odds of success on that side of the ball are much higher when these callers are paired with receivers who can beat human cover and enter opening. space out.

It’s also important to be good at finding the weak spot in area coverage, as top NFL players frequently design space for their receivers.

Still, receivers who can win one-on-one are a huge help to quarterbacks, especially those who can beat the blitz regularly thanks to their ability to effectively read the pitch and find the open man. .

While determining the “best” receiver in the NFL is a subjective process that may depend on an affinity for certain styles of play, success in beating defensemen on cover can be quantified.

Stats Perform did this with its percent open metric, which tracks how often a receiver opens when compared to human coverage and has enough time to complete a route. Games that fail before a clash with a defender may take place or scrambling drills where a receiver finds out after walking his original route are reduced.

So who are the best and the worst in this regard? Here we take a look at the top performers, some surprise names discovered more often than expected, and those who rarely separate from Defenders.

THE ELITE

A year in which Cooper Kupp led the NFL with 1,141 receiving yards saw him establish himself as the NFL’s premier road runner.

This is reflected in his opening percentage of 57.75, which is the highest of any player with more than 10 games of coverage.

Opening up 41 of his 71 clashes, Kupp has always excelled at creating parting. His burn percentage, which measures how often a receiver wins their matchup with a defender when targeted, of 65.2 is higher than the 60.3 average for broads (min. 10 targets), while ‘He’s fourth in the NFL in yards burned per route (4.2).

Joining Kupp near the top of the tree is Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings. Proving his record rookie year was no fluke, Jefferson faced 108 cover matches and opened on 55 of them, good for an open percentage of 50.93.

Eleventh among receivers with a burn percentage of 73.4 and an average of 3.3 yards per road, there was no sign of a second-year collapse from Jefferson, including the combination of separation ability and Point-of-capture prowess has turned him into one of the most reliable and dynamic receivers in the league.

Keenan Allen (53.16) is the closest challenger to veteran Los Angeles Chargers Kupp, underscoring his status as one of the NFL’s most underrated receivers by opening up at a pace that doesn’t can only increase the frustrations around his team’s underperforming offense.

Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill (47.78) has an elite opening percentage that belies his disappointing 28.0% playing rate, with Stefon Diggs (47.62) winning s ‘open dispelling the notion of abandoning the leader of last year. . Davante Adams (45.65) is unsurprisingly also among the best in the league, but he comes with a few names that raise eyebrows.

SURPRISE NAILS

It’s been tough watching an uninspired offense from the Pittsburgh Steelers this season and thinking someone is opening up.

Almost every passing play the Steelers perform seems to end in a contested grab, but a wide-out that thrives in those situations also wins the vast majority of its cover matches.

Indeed, sophomore Chase Claypool sidelines only Kupp and Allen in opening percentage, standing out from a defender in 35 of his 68 clashes (51.47).

However, a burn rate per route of 2.5, just above the average of 2.3, and his difficulties in burns per target metric (10.30) indicate that although Claypool is breaking away from the cover , he does not put any significant distance between himself and defenders. He will likely have to continue to rely on his superiority at the catch point.

As with the Steelers, you won’t find too many people feeling the excitement watching a Denver Broncos offense led by Teddy Bridgewater.

There is no doubt about the talent of the Denver offense. With Jerry Jeudy injured and Noah Fant having so far failed to make the sophomore jump that many expected, Courtland Sutton has shone the most and is on course for a 1,000-yard season, although the The impact of Tim Patrick has been comparable.

With the exception of Kendall Hinton (47.83 out of 23 clashes), it was the relatively little-known Patrick who proved Denver’s best to part ways, his open percentage of 44.44 in 90 clashes with the Dallas Cowboys Amari Cooper.

A below-average burn-yards of 2.0 is indicative of a lack of substantial separation, but Patrick uses the distance he is able to put between himself and defenders to create explosive plays, his big play rate of 36.7% comfortably above the 29.2 average.

Again leading the tight ends in the receiving yards (747), most would expect the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce to top the list at this position for opening percentage. Instead, he’s an AFC West alumnus in ex-Charger Hunter Henry.

Scoring seven touchdowns in as many games before being sidelined in the end zone in Thursday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons, Henry has an open percentage of 48.15. However, he has not been a double team this season.

Darren Waller has a double team percentage of 17.2 and still managed to open 46.75 percent of the time. The attention the Las Vegas Raiders star attracts and his ability to succeed despite it illustrates his position as one of the league’s biggest nightmares and arguably the gold standard on the tight end.

No room for maneuver

The Packers offense has stuttered by its own high standards in recent weeks, with their disappointing numbers not just a product of Jordan Love’s struggles against the Chiefs.

As of Week 6, the Packers have averaged 213.2 net passing yards per game – 20th in the NFL. For the season, they are 16th in passing yards (6.46).

This mediocrity can, in part, be attributed to a lack of reception depth beyond Adams, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s openness issues sums up that problem.

Valdes-Scantling is said to be the Packers’ deep threat who can stretch defenses thanks to his ability to split vertically.

Open in just five of its 38 coverage games – a percentage of 13.16 – Valdes-Scantling is not fulfilling its role. The Packers will likely need to be more explosive in the playoffs if they are to go all the way, which means Valdes-Scantling needs to improve his game.

Bryan Edwards is in a similar situation in Las Vegas. Barely used last season, Edwards saw his targets increase in 2021, with the Raiders often going down the field for him.

Edwards’ target average depth is 17.2 yards, but he found a deep separation hard to find, baring 17 of his 111 clashes (15.32 percent). Still, with a screaming average of 15.01 yards per target and a big play rate of 50.7 percent which is third among receivers (min. 10 targets), Edwards is a player who takes full advantage of the small split. which he gets when Derek Carr watches his way.

Former Edwards teammate in South Carolina, San Francisco 49ers star Deebo Samuel, is playing at the highest level of his young career. Samuel is second behind Kupp with 979 receiving yards and already has seven total touchdowns this season.

However, Samuel ranks near the bottom of the league in open percentage (15.07), with the difference between that number and his overall production reflecting how he is used by San Francisco.

His average target depth is 8.6 meters, below the NFL average for receivers of 11.0, a testament to the Niners’ confidence in him on screens and short passes which are an extension of the game. race.

Third in yards burned per road and leading all wide receivers with an average of 9.6 yards after catching per reception, Samuel takes advantage of those short targets with his speed, elusiveness and power, while he can win in the catch-up point even without separation. The 49ers often put Samuel in space in the backfield but, for one of the league’s most unique players, separation isn’t always a requirement.


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