Finally - Empirical evidence that Michael Crabtree is an elite Wide Receiver

The good people at Pro Football Focus have introduced a new measure of just how good a receiver is: yards per route run (YPRR). YPRR measures the number of yards a receiver gas gained per ROUTE RUN. They don't show how they did it, but takes the number of snaps a WR has and subtracts the plays where the team ran the ball (and the WR just blocked).

Name Team Targets Yards Snaps in Route YPRR Tgt Rate
Andre Johnson HST 159 1598 531 3.01 9.9%
Brandon Marshall CHI 181 1510 547 2.76 12.0%
Calvin Johnson DET 199 1964 771 2.55 10.1%
Michael Crabtree SF 118 1105 433 2.55 10.7%
Demaryius Thomas DEN 138 1430 571 2.5 9.7%
Vincent Jackson TB 137 1384 591 2.34 9.9%
A.J. Green CIN 158 1350 585 2.31 11.7%
Cecil Shorts JAX 101 979 426 2.3 10.3%
Randall Cobb GB 102 954 423 2.26 10.7%
Steve L. Smith CAR 127 1174 527 2.23 10.8%
Wes Welker NE 166 1354 619 2.19 12.3%
Lance Moore NO 100 1041 482 2.16 9.6%
Dez Bryant DAL 137 1383 652 2.12 9.9%
Danario Alexander SD 54 658 314 2.1 8.2%
Roddy White ATL 138 1351 648 2.08 10.2%

When you do this, you get a very clear picture of the upper tier of NFL Wide Receivers. Quoting PFF:

"Michael Crabtree played like an elite receiver all season long, he just didn’t play in a pass-heavy offense. Of the Top 5 receivers in YPRR, Crabtree’s 433 snaps in route are the fewest by 98 even though he didn’t miss a game. For the season he ran three less routes thanMichael Jenkins yet totaled 656 more yards. The way Crabtree finished out the season with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback suggests things are pointing up for the fourth-year wideout. Crabtree caught 41 balls for 595 yards and a YPRR of 3.15 in the last seven games of the season with Kaepernick at the helm."

So, wow. yeah. Crabtree had the same yards per route run as Calvin Johnson. PFF believes that Brandon Marshall was the best receiver in 2012, even though Andre Johnson had a higher YPRR. They don't address Johnson directly, but they do discuss "targeting rate", which is targets per route run. By that metric, Brandon Marshall was Welker-esque: Cutler threw the ball to him on 12% of his routes -- that means that Marshall beat his man and got open...a lot. Andre Johnson was 10%. As for Crabtree, his target rate was 10.7%.

So, I think that PFF's assessment of Crabtree is correct: "things are pointing up for the fourth-year wideout."

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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