Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Oct 2013

The NFL's All Supporting Cast Team

Thought I would get a jump on the midseason All Pro teams, and do something different, by ranking the best slot receivers, nickel backs, and so on in the NFL in the first half.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 22 Oct 2013

8 comments, Last at 25 Oct 2013, 7:43am by Anonymous2


by panthersnbraves :: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 9:42am

I want to give Tolbert some credit on the safety. You want your RB to hit the hole hard when you are down that close to the Goal-line, and he never got a chance to get started with the penetration that had people lying at his feet the moment he got the ball. Then he got swarmed.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 10:22am

I wonder if Tanier considers James Jones to be GB's #3 WR, as most people would, because his 20 catches for 349 yards obliterates Doug Baldwin's 11 for 188.

by Anonymouser (not verified) :: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 11:01am

on 3rd down

by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 11:03am

I just figured that out, after browsing the updated WR DYAR tables. Reading comprehension has not been my friend today.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 1:58pm

With all the injuries the Packers have had it's hard to categorize any of them except Nelson as the #1.

According to PFR, Jones has started all the games he's played in. I know the Packers run a 3-wide set as their base, but Jones also has the 2nd most starts of any receiver (Cobb is 3rd with 4).

I think Tainer is trying to point out players who are not the focus of their team. Not backups pressed into starting duty and succeeding.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 2:54pm

I think before the injuries Jones was 2nd on snap count of the three, but the difference between all three was like 8 total snaps. Cobb trailed the other two in part because he would generally get a play or two off if he was doing a punt or kick return. Before the injury he fielded all the punts that were expected to land inside the 20, and Hyde fielded the rest. Well after Ross proved to not be reliable for the job. Hyde has proven quite capable as a punt returner though and while he is also a pretty solid nickel/dime CB, with Hayward coming back in a week or two, I'm much happier with Hyde being the returner, Cobb just being a WR, and the defense should still be fine with whatever combo of Shields/Williams/House/Hayward/Hyde it wants, regardless of what special teams play time does (House is a big ST player too).

OK so I used the data on here to get the numbers.
After Week 5 the numbers for snap counts on offense were:

Player . OSnaps . Starts . Rec . Tar . YDS . TD
Nelson . . .273 . . 4 . . . 23 . 30 . .371 . 3
Jones . . . 273 . . 4 . . . 19 . 26 . .339 . 2
Cobb . . . .260 . . 3 . . . 25 . 40 . .325 . 2

Keep in mind the Packers had a bye week in week 4 so only had 4 games played before Cobb and Jones were injured. So yes they had three receivers on pace for 1300 - 1500 yards and 8 - 12 TD's each before the injuries.

Cobb was the Packers #3 WR by snap count and starts, but the difference was small. I didn't record total offensive snaps the team had. Week 1 (Nelson, Jones) and week 3 (Jones) were the only weeks where any of the wide outs played 100% of the offensive snaps, otherwise each of them had at least one offensive snap off per game. All three of them lead the team in offensive snaps various weeks (1 - Nelson, Jones; 2 - Jones; 3 - Jones; 5 - Cobb) Jones and Cobb have each had the fewest snaps in a game, Nelson has always been 1 or 2.

The offense didn't change much against Cleveland. Boykin had 69, Nelson 66, and White 47 on the snap count, so they still ran out the 3 WR set most of the time.

So all that said, yeah I have no idea how I would classify the Packers receivers. Kinda like the Denver offense they are all #1 - #3, I think it depends on the defense. If it weren't for Jones and Cobb getting injured I don't think it would be a clear case of Nelson as the #1 by any measure. Heck as mentioned Boykin had more offensive plays than Nelson did vs Cleveland. Then you throw Finley in there....

by Bobman :: Tue, 10/22/2013 - 1:52pm

I was thinking TY Hilton in Indy as #3 WR. A little too inconsistent, I guess. Plus, with Wayne going down, now he's #1.

by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Fri, 10/25/2013 - 7:43am

I think you'd be hard pressed to find one person in ten who watches the Packers with regularity rank James Jones anything better than their #3 wide reciever. When healthy, Randall Cobb is the Packers most talented receiver and Jordy Nelson is their most reliable.

Injuries are the only reason this topic is even debatable among those who watch the Green Bay Packers play with regularity.

Denver 1. Thomas 2. Welker 3. Decker OVER
Green Bay 1. Cobb 2. Nelson 3. Jones

With Thomas over Nelson and Decker over Jones out wide and Cobb over Welker in the slot.

Tuluse makes a great point about the author's intent, but I'm still not taking Doug Baldwin over Harry Douglas, Rueben Randall, or DHB. Probably not even over Andre Roberts, Jason Avant or Terrance Williams either.