ProFootballFocus.com recently release an article entitled “Drop Rate 2011: Which receivers are dropping the ball?” I almost automatically figured the Tennessee Titans would be on the butt end of this, being as they had a young, inexperienced receiving corps.
Needless to say, I was a little surprised when I was going over the top twenty receivers with the least amount of drops in the NFL and came across the name Lavelle Hawkins.
Hawkins had a career best season with 47 receptions for 470 yard and one touchdown. Now those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but the group that PFF groups him with does.
Hawkins ranked 20th in the NFL in catchable balls compared to receptions in 2011 according to PFF, with 50 catchable balls to 47 receptions. Three above him at 17th was Greg Jennings with 71 catchable balls and 67 receptions. At 8th you can find Larry Fitzgerald with 83 catchable balls to 80 receptions (WOW). At 5th, Reggie Wayne with 77 catchable balls to 75 receptions and Marques Colston just one above Wayne with 82 catachable balls to 80 receptions. Second from the top is Dez Bryant with 64 catchable balls and 63 receptions. The number one isn’t nearly as impressive, as he was only given 35 catchable balls, but it’s Golden Tate with 35 catchable balls and 35 receptions.
I’m impressed with Hawkins on that level. His average per catch isn’t staggering by any means (10.0) but that’s what happens when you’re not the deep route. The only thing a receiver can do is run his route, catch the ball when it’s thrown to him and make the best of it. That seems to be exactly what Hawkins has done. On almost every ball Hawkins gets you can see him doing his best to get the extra yardage.
Let’s look at the bottom 20 receivers in the NFL in terms of catchable balls to receptions. At 72nd we have Roddy White with 115 catchable balls (dear heavens, he’s only one man!) to 100 receptions. DeSean Jackson ranked 76th with 67 catchable balls to 58 receptions. Brandon Marshall can be found at 79th with 95 catchable balls to 81 receptions. Jerome Simpson comes in at 80th with 59 catchable balls to 50 receptions. One of the better comparisons to Hawkins can be found at 84th, where Eric Decker was given 53 catchable balls and had 44 receptions.
A lot of the receivers in the bottom 20 are big name receivers that get thrown at tons, but there are still a lot of noticeable names in there that weren’t targeted 100 times and make the comparison for Hawkins all that more valid. One of those guys is a young stud from the Green Bay Packers who goes by James Jones. He had 44 catchable balls and managed just 38 catches.
Hawkins isn’t a huge playmaker that will baffle opposing teams defensive coordinators but he is a solid receiver. This season Hawkins had major growths as a receiver. It was his first time really being let loose out there and though he did show errors, such as misunderstanding routes, I think he has shown enough promise that the Titans should look at bringing him back, as he is set to be a free agent as of March 13th.