FanPost

Miles Austin; why he might not be a #2 WR

Those of you who have read a few of my posts might have picked up on the fact that I like to defend many of our players. I certainly tend to be a glass half full of liquidity blue goodness kinda guy! Well, I'm done with that nonsense when it comes to Miles Austin as a #2 WR! In this post, I'll attempt to convince you why you should be too!

After all the legitimate complaints about his legs, hammy's in particular, I decided to take a closer look at his durability since his breakout year. I decided to compile a set of metrics I might use if I were a scout to help me evaluate WR's. I don't claim this to be perfect but it does seem like a logical approach. Let me explain...

First, if I'm considering bringing in a player, I need his track record to gauge likely future performance. In the case of Miles, we only have four years to go on as he was in development prior to that. This works well since that starts at age 24, the approximate age most WR's breakout. I also think what any player did prior to 4 years is slightly irrelevant as decline can be rather sudden in the NFL.

I looked at 2012's top WR's in terms of total yards, I did not include a few young players as they only have a year or two of production to evaluate. It would actually handicap them to include their first year or three in the league as they were still developing and their stats were bad as a result. I fully expect several young guys to move up on the list in the next two years but of course some older ones will drop off.

On to the metrics! I took the top WR's in reception yards in 2012 and totaled the following stats over the last four years: Receptions, total yards, yards per catch, TD's, games played and age. We know they were all among the top in 2012, so looking at the last four years tells us if it was a fluke or we should expect the same type of production next year. Their age allows us to consider how likely decline or improvement might be in the years ahead.

I also listed the teams as we might recognize a few players benefit from a great QB or perform even with a bad one. What blew me away when I looked at this was how incredibly consistent some guys are like Roddy White and Reggie Wayne, for a really long time. My hat is off to those two!

I don't believe there is a perfect system but I do believe this is a reasonable look at how the top guys stack up and how likely it is to continue. On to the data!

Team

Player

Age

GP

Receptions

Yards

YPC

TD's

Detroit

C. Johnson

27

61

362

5749

15.7

38

Atl

R. White

31

64

392

5189

13.35

36

NE

W. Welker

31

61

449

5119

11.33

26

Ind

R. Wayne

34

64

392

4934

12.6

25

Houston

A. Johnson

31

52

332

4875

14.7

23

Denver

B. Marshall

29

61

386

4856

12.68

30

NO

M. Colston

29

61

317

4394

13.9

34

Car

S. Smith

33

61

263

4104

15.2

20

SD/Tampa

V. Jackson

30

52

214

3905

18.2

29

Dallas

M. Austin

28

58

259

3883

14.8

31

GB

G. Jennings

29

53

247

3693

14.35

29

Ari/Balt

A. Bolden

32

60

270

3669

13.76

18

Eagles

J. Maclin

24

59

258

3453

13.4

26

NE/Den

B. Lloyd

32

47

221

3325

14.85

20

SD

M. Floyd

31

53

181

3163

17.75

17

NO

L. Moore

29

52

197

2584

12.65

24

What we find is most of the guys on the list are really good. There are many similarities is size and age but there are a few who stand out in places. Average age is 30, suggesting WR's prime ages are 26-32 or so. Some decline quicker or last longer. Of note, Miles is the 3rd youngest on this list.

I did not look at the top WR's over the last four years but rather how the top guys from last year did over the last four years, clear as mud?

So breaking down the data here's what we learn about Miles. From the tops in 2012, over the last four years he's among the top 16 WR's in total yards, 10th in fact. He's 4th in TD's. He's 6th in YPC. He's 10th in receptions. Here's the kicker, he's 10th in games played and only played 6 fewer games than the best possible number. So much for the injury prone theory, this just in, many WR's get injured.

The exciting conclusion? At 28 years of age, Miles is just now in his prime. While it's possible he'll decline or face injury issues, the past four years don't suggest that compared to the field. In fact, his best years may still be ahead. He should easily be able to produce for the next 3-4 years at a very high level.

So why do I say he's not a #2 after all this? Well, the facts actually place him performing as a #1 over the last four years! Outperforming great players like Greg Jennings and Anquan Boldin, while stacking up well against Vincent Jackson and Steve Smith.

I'm not claiming he's as good or better than anyone, I'm simply stating that over a four year sample, he produces on par with some of the better WR's and should continue to do so. I think Miles is a great example of how unrealistic many of us Cowboy's fans are too. Boldin and Jennings have rings and are regarded as two of the best WR's in the NFL. Well, the fact is Miles has been better than both of them the last four years.

Many Cowboy's fans complain that Miles is over paid, yet his contract averages 7.7 a year if played out and Jennings just signed for an average of 9.4. (I'm not a contract expert so please let me know if I did not calculate that correctly.) Jennings is older, produced less and has missed more games too.

Now, Dez obviously has so much more potential than Miles and is our 1. However, to suggest that Miles is not among the top #2 WR's in the NFL, or that he cannot produce over the next 3-4 years is simply untrue. He's as durable as most top WR's the last four years and while it does hamper him, he plays through pain and injuries. 31 TD's is a lot over a four year span too and that is one stat which is very important.

I'd be interested to hear if you think I've left any vital information out or placed too much importance on specific areas. I also just realized I left Larry Fitz out since he had a down year due to QB play and did not rank high this year. He's better than Miles but I'm not going to redo the chart :)

Also of note, Jeremy Maclin, young guy who has produced well for his age but has also been beat up the last two years. I believe much of this is because Vick is a disaster who throws him into hits way too often. It's a shame because as much as I hate the Eagles, he seems like a decent kid and his upside is huge. I sure hope he goes to a different team, based on what he's done to this point, he can be a amazing in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!


Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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