The 2018 NFL draft class of wide receivers was seen as a deep group, but one that lacked elite prospects. While I liked the class a good bit because of all the different flavors it offered, I mostly agreed with that sentiment.
With a group that lacks the elite prospect, a transition period is to be expected and immediate NFL contributors may be harder to find.
To reinforce this narrative, Week 1 of the NFL Season was an underwhelming debut week for the rookie class of wide receivers. Now, it’s only one week and expectations should’ve been tempered anyway. However, only six rookie wide receivers caught passes, not exactly a blazing start.
Among those six, Dante Pettis not only produced the most receiving yards, but was the only rookie wide receiver to score a touchdown. With this is mind, I dug into the coaches film to see exactly how he fared.
Pettis ran 30 routes on Sunday, accumulating 6 total targets. One of those targets was a defensive pass interference penalty committed by Trae Waynes.
- Of the 30 routes that Pettis ran, 17 of them came when he was aligned as the #1 receiver. Multiple analysts noted that Pettis projected as more of a slot type of receiver, but early on in his career this is not necessarily the case.
- 8 of the 30 routes came when Pettis was aligned as the #2 receiver
- 5 of the 30 routes came when Pettis was aligned as the #3 receiver
I deem “successful” passing routes for wide receivers as those routes that generate enough separation to create a clean and open throwing window for the Quarterback, by the time of his release.
- I had Pettis down for 21 successful routes out of the 30 that he ran.
- Pettis’ success rate on routes while aligned outside was 13/17
- Pettis’ success rate on routes while aligned in the Slot was 8/13
Different wide receivers will operate more effectively against man or zone coverage. This happens for a variety of reasons, an example reason would be a receiver’s ability to get off press coverage or work through contact.
- Pettis’ success rate on routes while operating against man coverage was 13/19
- Pettis’ success rate on routes while operating against zone coverage was 8/11
- Pettis accumulated 61 receiving yards on 2 receptions
- Of the 61 yards, 25 of them came after the catch. This means that 36 of them were “air yards,” or yards already gained at the time of the catch.
- Pettis’ average depth of target was 19.5 yards down the field (including the defensive pass interference target)
- Pettis’ yards per target (not counting the defensive pass interference target) was 12.2 yards
- Pettis was 0/1 in contested catch situations, having a ball knocked away by Trae Waynes
- Pettis had 0 drops
- Pettis’ most ran passing route was the “Deep Over,” which he ran 5 times with a success rate of 3/5
The numbers that came from charting Pettis' game reinforced what the film had told us, he put together a solid debut. There was potential for more plays to be made, but for a rookie Pettis met or exceeded expectations in week 1. With Marquise Goodwin's status currently up in the air for Sunday's game against Detroit, Pettis may be in line for a more expanded role moving forward.