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Which Teams Have the Tallest and Shortest Targets?

by Chase Stuart on February 7, 2014

in Receiving, Statistics

Chicago's twin towers

Chicago's twin towers.

In Marc Trestman’s first year as head coach, the Chicago Bears quickly turned into one of the most explosive offenses in football. Even after losing Jay Cutler, backup quarterback Josh McCown came in and seamlessly executed Trestman’s offense.

Chicago ranked in the top 5 in passing yards, passing touchdowns, net yards per pass attempt and points, an impressive accomplishment for a franchise that seemed permanently stuck in 1958. And while the Bears have a lot of talented offensive players, the first thing that stands out to you when watching Chicago is that they look like a basketball team. I don’t write that because of the way the team throws the ball, but because the receivers actually look like basketball players. Chicago’s top three receivers are Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery (each 6’4) and tight end Martellus Bennett (6’7): those are easy targets to spot for whomever is at quarterback for the Bears.

I calculated the average receiving height of each team during the 2013 NFL season by taking a weighted average of the height of each player on each team, weighted by their percentage of team receiving yards. For example, Jeffery caught 31.9% of all Chicago receiving yards, so his 76 inches counts for 31.9% of Chicago’s average height.  Bennett gained 17.1% of the team’s receiving yards, so his 79 inches counts for 17.1% of Chicago’s average height, and so on. The table below shows the average height for each team in 2013, along with the percentage of team receiving yards and height for each team’s top four receiving leaders:

Rk
Team
Ht
Receiver 1
Receiver 2
Receiver 3
Receiver 4
1CHI75.9Alshon Jeffery (31.9% - 76'')Brandon Marshall (29.1% - 76'')Martellus Bennett (17.1% - 79'')Matt Forte (13.3% - 73'')
2TAM75Vincent Jackson (38.5% - 77'')Tim Wright (18% - 76'')Tiquan Underwood (13.8% - 73'')Mike A. Williams (6.8% - 74'')
3DET75Calvin Johnson (32.1% - 77'')Joique Bell (11.8% - 71'')Reggie Bush (10.9% - 72'')Kris Durham (10.5% - 78'')
4CLE74.5Josh Gordon (37.6% - 76'')Jordan Cameron (21% - 77'')Greg Little (10.6% - 74'')Davone Bess (8.3% - 70'')
5OAK74.3Rod Streater (24.9% - 75'')Denarius Moore (19.5% - 72'')Andre Holmes (12.1% - 77'')Mychal Rivera (11.4% - 75'')
6CIN74.3A.J. Green (33% - 76'')Marvin Jones (16.5% - 73'')Giovani Bernard (11.9% - 69'')Jermaine Gresham (10.6% - 77'')
7ARI74Michael Floyd (24.3% - 75'')Larry Fitzgerald (22.2% - 75'')Andre Roberts (11% - 71'')Rob Housler (10.6% - 77'')
8DAL73.9Dez Bryant (29.2% - 74'')Jason Witten (20.1% - 77'')Terrance Williams (17.4% - 74'')Cole Beasley (8.7% - 68'')
9HOU73.8Andre Johnson (33.6% - 75'')DeAndre Hopkins (19.2% - 73'')Garrett Graham (13% - 75'')Keshawn Martin (6% - 70'')
10BAL73.8Torrey Smith (32.3% - 73'')Marlon Brown (15% - 77'')Dallas Clark (9.8% - 75'')Ray Rice (9.2% - 69'')
11BUF73.8Scott Chandler (19.4% - 79'')Steve Johnson (17.7% - 74'')Robert Woods (17.4% - 73'')Fred Jackson (11.5% - 73'')
12NOR73.7Jimmy Graham (23.5% - 79'')Marques Colston (18.3% - 76'')Kenny Stills (12.4% - 73'')Darren Sproles (11.7% - 66'')
13GNB73.7Jordy Nelson (29% - 75'')James Jones (18% - 73'')Jarrett Boykin (15% - 74'')Randall Cobb (9.5% - 70'')
14SDG73.7Keenan Allen (26.9% - 74'')Antonio Gates (22.4% - 76'')Danny Woodhead (15.5% - 69'')Vincent Brown (12.1% - 71'')
15DEN73.5Demaryius Thomas (25.7% - 75'')Eric Decker (23.1% - 75'')Julius Thomas (14.1% - 76'')Wes Welker (14% - 69'')
16SFO73.5Anquan Boldin (36.7% - 73'')Vernon Davis (26.5% - 75'')Michael Crabtree (8.8% - 74'')Bruce Miller (7.6% - 73'')
17NYJ73.4Jeremy Kerley (16% - 69'')Santonio Holmes (13.9% - 70'')David Nelson (12.9% - 77'')Jeff Cumberland (12.2% - 76'')
18MIN73.3Greg Jennings (22.1% - 71'')Jerome Simpson (19.9% - 73'')Cordarrelle Patterson (12.9% - 74'')Jarius Wright (11.9% - 70'')
19PHI73.3DeSean Jackson (30.2% - 72'')Riley Cooper (19% - 75'')LeSean McCoy (12.2% - 70'')Brent Celek (11.4% - 76'')
20ATL73.1Harry Douglas (23.5% - 71'')Tony Gonzalez (18.9% - 77'')Roddy White (15.7% - 73'')Julio Jones (12.8% - 76'')
21MIA73.1Brian Hartline (25.6% - 74'')Mike Wallace (23.4% - 72'')Charles Clay (19.1% - 75'')Rishard Matthews (11.3% - 72'')
22NYG73.1Victor Cruz (25.8% - 72'')Hakeem Nicks (23.1% - 72'')Rueben Randle (15.8% - 76'')Brandon Myers (13.5% - 76'')
23NWE72.9Julian Edelman (24.3% - 72'')Danny Amendola (14.6% - 71'')Rob Gronkowski (13.6% - 78'')Aaron Dobson (12% - 75'')
24STL72.8Jared Cook (20% - 76'')Chris Givens (16.9% - 71'')Tavon Austin (12.4% - 69'')Austin Pettis (11.9% - 74'')
25KAN72.6Jamaal Charles (19.5% - 73'')Dwayne Bowe (18.9% - 74'')Donnie Avery (16.7% - 71'')Dexter McCluster (14.3% - 69'')
26SEA72.6Golden Tate (25.6% - 71'')Doug Baldwin (22.2% - 70'')Zach Miller (11% - 77'')Jermaine Kearse (9.9% - 73'')
27IND72.5T.Y. Hilton (27.4% - 70'')Coby Fleener (15.4% - 78'')Reggie Wayne (12.7% - 72'')Darrius Heyward-Bey (7.8% - 74'')
28CAR72.5Greg Olsen (24.1% - 78'')Steve Smith (22% - 69'')Brandon LaFell (18.6% - 74'')Ted Jr. Ginn (16.5% - 71'')
29WAS72.4Pierre Garcon (33.2% - 72'')Jordan Reed (12.3% - 75'')Santana Moss (11.1% - 70'')Leonard Hankerson (9.2% - 73'')
30TEN72.3Kendall Wright (29.1% - 70'')Nate Washington (24.8% - 73'')Delanie Walker (15.4% - 73'')Justin Hunter (9.5% - 76'')
31PIT72.3Antonio Brown (34.8% - 70'')Emmanuel Sanders (17.2% - 71'')Jerricho Cotchery (14% - 73'')Heath Miller (13.8% - 77'')
32JAX72.3Cecil Shorts (23.4% - 72'')Mike Brown (13.4% - 70'')Justin Blackmon (12.5% - 73'')Marcedes Lewis (10.8% - 78'')

Seattle has apparently figured out the key to success: tall cornerbacks and short wide receivers? The team famous for its lanky defensive backs has 5’11 Golden Tate and 5’10 Doug Baldwin as its starting wide receivers. Perhaps they make Russell Wilson feel more confident.

Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee had the lowest average height, although for three different reasons. The Jaguars lack tall wide receivers, an even more notable situation when 6’1 Justin Blackmon isn’t out there. For Pittsburgh, the offense is based around 5’10 Antonio Brown, who finished with 110 catches for 1,499 yards. The Steelers never really replaced Plaxico Burress as a red zone target, and after failing on the Limas Sweed draft pick, the franchise has focused on shorter receivers in the draft (i.e., Mike Wallace, Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Markus Wheaton). Tennessee replaced 6’4 Jared Cook with one of the shortest starting tight ends in the league in Delanie Walker, while the Kenny Britt experiment finally imploded in 2013.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the tallest and shortest receiving groups in NFL history using the same method.