Greetings my fellow NFL fans! You have now entered the third installment of NFL Fun Facts! So far I have picked apart the 2011 regular season production numbers for NFL quarterback and running backs and categorized the results by grouping the players by their former collegiate conferences. This blog will be much of the same, with a minor twist. Naturally after focusing the first two blogs of this series on quarterbacks and running backs, respectively, the next logical progression would be wide receivers. Well, I have decided to also include NFL tight ends among the Top 51 most productive pass-catchers during the 2011 regular season, and why not? There was a time not all that long ago where tight ends were basically functioned as smaller offensive tackles and whose main task was to block for the running game. But as passing became more popular, obviously rushing attempts had to decrease since there are only so many plays a team can run per game. That has opened up the tight ends more opportunity to run routes and catch passes more often. It has also given former collegiate basketball players another avenue to play sports professional…
Note: The fun facts will be based on various stats of the 2011 regular season’s 51 most productive wide receivers/tight ends, yardage wise, and categorize according to the collegiate conference during the time they played. NO running backs were considered for compiling the stats to use for this analysis.
FUN FACT # 1: Two of the Top 10 pass catchers during the 2011 regular season were tight ends.
As I mentioned in the introduction, tight ends are more involved in the passing game than ever before. And we’re not just talking about the stereotypical dink and dunk, once in a blue moon option. The Top 2 pass catching tight ends totaled a combined 189 receptions for 2,637 yards and 28 touchdowns! If you do the math (and fortunately for you, I did) they averaged 13.95 yards per reception. In all, there were 14 tight ends among the Top 51 pass catchers, yardage wise.
FUN FACT #2: The highest number of productive pass catchers among the Top 51 was former SEC players.
Ten players, or nearly 20%, of the most productive pass catchers hail from the SEC. Three of those players were tight ends. The ACC had the second most former players with 8. The Sun Belt, WAC and Independent conferences were the only ones that did not have a player in the Top 51. Even FCS schools had a combined 6 players on the list.
FUN FACT #3: Former Conference USA receivers averaged the most receptions per player during the 2011 regular season.
Granted there were only two wide receivers from that conference, they still managed to average 90.5 pass receptions. The seven BIG 12 receivers was next with an average of 75 catches apiece and former ACC players averaged 73 receptions. The two Mountain West receivers on the Top 51 list averaged the fewest receptions with 58.8.
FUN FACT #4: As far as the Conference who has produced the most 1,000 yards pass catchers in 2011, it was a tie between the SEC and…
…the FCS schools! Yes, you have read that correctly. There were as many receivers from what is arguably the best conference (football wise) in the nation and the NON-FBS schools!!! Each was represented with four players. And one certain player, who recently signed a big free agent contract with the Washington Redskins, nearly reached the 1,000 yard mark despite having a rotating QB carousal to deal with. As far as former SEC receivers, only one (out of the ten on the list) had less than 900 receiving yards.
FUN FACT #5: Not only were there 4 former FCS receivers that had over 1,000 yards receiving, but they (as a whole) had far and away the highest average yards per reception.
With an average of 15.75 yards per reception, the six FCS receivers collectively topped EVERY division I conference by at least a full yard per catch! The next closes conference was the PAC 12, with 14.73 yard average and the ACC had a 14.45 yard average. The BIG 10 must specialize in possession receivers, because they came in last with a paltry 13.09 yards per catch between their three receivers.
FUN FACT #6: And if you’re still not sold on FCS players yet, they averaged more touchdown receptions per player than ANY Division I Conference.
That’s right boys and girls. The very players most had never heard of during their collegiate years averaged 8.3 touchdowns per player during the 2011 regular season. The next highest touchdown average goes to the BIG 12, with 7.7 per player. On the other end of the spectrum, the BIG 10 (with three players) and the Mountain West (with two players) shared the distinction of having the fewest touchdowns per player with 4 apiece.
And there you have it. I personally learned more by doing this particular blog than I did while working on my first two concerning the background of players that contribute to the NFL. Of the six former FCS players whose stats were used for this blog, four of them were actually drafted (2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th round picks) and two were not draft at all. And that is, IMHO, what is so great about the offseason; the next future stars on any given team can be acquired right under most fans’ nose! The 1st round picks are always going to be the most coveted (as they should be) and it is natural (i.e. safe) to desire the college stars that you watch on Saturdays to play for your favorite team on Sundays. But often times it is the unknown, unconventional acquisitions that, more often than not, put a franchise over the top (just ask the Patriots). For my next and likely final blog in this series, I will research and put together a list of fun facts about the defensive players. Until then, thank you for reading this!