Week 12 of the 2014 NFL season saw one the greatest plays in the history of everything.
With just three fingers and a neigh-Kryptonian leap, New York Giants' rookie Odell Beckham Jr. went from being a good rookie receiver to taking over the sports world.
Okay, you'll have to forgive my bout of hyperbole, it's tough to avoid. But you know The Catch, the one that spawned a thousand gifs and memes. But Beckham had 90 other receptions last season, and those had much more to do with Beckham's unrelenting assault on the record books as a rookie wide receiver.
Locker room definitions aside, however, Beckham isn't a rookie any more. He is now a second year NFL wide receiver, and his team's number 1 receiver. The question isn't "How does he stack up to the other rookies?" anymore. Now the question is "How does he stack up to other Number 1's?"
The Reception Perception project over on BackYardBanter has gathered a ton of data that goes a long way toward helping us understand how Beckham compares to some other Number 1 receivers.
Follow the link above for their full methodology and a great interactive chart.
The Reception Perception looks at how successful receivers are against different types of coverage (Man, Zone, Press, and Double Coverage), what types of routes that receiver ran, and how successful they were in those routes.
Lets take a look at how Beckham did against various coverages as compared to receivers like Antonio Brown, Demaryious Thomas, and Dez Bryant.
(Note: their data sampled 27 receivers)
|Player||Man Coverage||Zone Coverage||Press Coverage||Double Coverage||Contested Catches|
|Demaryius Thomas||60.8% (17th)||70.9% (15th)||59.8% (19th)||33.3% (15th)||50.0% (22nd)|
|Antonio Brown||79.7% (2nd)||93.6% (1st)||82.0% (4th)||80.6% (4th)||81.8% (3rd)|
|Dez Bryant||75.5% (4th)||82.8% (5th)||81.0% (5th)||57.1% (11th)||72.2% (9th)|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||80.1% (1st)||83.8% (3rd)||86.7 (1st)||67.9% (6th)||82.6% (2nd)|
The percentages show how many successful routes the receiver ran against that form of coverage. A successful route is one that created separation -- he "got open" -- or forced a defensive pass interference. Because the Reception Perception uses a player's four best and four worst games, the sample size is also very similar for all four players.
So what does that all mean? Well, I'm going to go way out on a limb here to say that it means that Odell Beckham is pretty good at this football stuff.
As the offseason wore on, Odell Beckham got increasingly tired of talking about The Catch, and why shouldn't he? It was a phenomenal play, but it was just one play. The numbers gathered in the Reception Perception show that Beckham did have a truly amazing season in 2014.
Even as a rookie he matched up very well with three of the best veteran receivers in the game. As a veteran himself, the biggest struggle he will have is adapting to defenses trying to adapt to him. But after a rookie campaign where he would be best described as "uncoverable", that will be easier said than done for defenses.