Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan likes big football players. His logic is that over the course of 150 or so plays during a game the advantages that a bigger player has over a smaller player will win out.
That sounds good in theory but is there any proof? Or is that just an old adage that no longer applies, if it ever did?
Football does not lend itself to statistical analytics as well as some other sports but we can look at slices of the game. And if you look at the passing plays to wide receivers that occur when an offense has the ball inside the other team’s 20-yard line, the red zone, it appears that bigger receivers do have an advantage.
Consider this from Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders. It doesn’t include last year but it covers 16 seasons, a pretty solid sample size.https://twitter.com/FO_ScottKacsmar/status/571033539703132160/photo/1
All but two of the top 10 in terms of touchdowns per red zone target are at least 6-3. The tallest receivers the Redskins have under contract for 2015 are Pierre Garçon and Ryan Grant, both 6-0. Those two, DeSean Jackson (5-10) and Andre Roberts (5-11) are almost certain to be the top four receivers on the team in 2015.
Looking at that group of wide receivers, Kacsmar’s chart, and at the Redskins’ ranking in red zone touchdown (26th) and it’s easy to see some cause and effect there. It’s also not hard to figure out that McCloughan will try to get the Redskins bigger at wide receiver.
Will he start in this year’s draft? He could have a number of tall receiver options throughout the draft. There were 13 receivers at the NFL Combine who measure 6-2 or taller. Some of them like Kevin White of West Virginia (6-3) and Davante Parker of Louisville (6-3) are likely to be gone in the first half of the first round. Tony Lippett of Michigan State (6-2) could still be around on the third day of the draft. A team likely could take a flyer on the tallest receiver at the combine, 6-6 Darren Waller of Georgia Tech, in the seventh round.
Height alone, however, isn’t enough to impress McCloughan. “I think it is a big man’s game, but I think it’s a football player’s game,” he said in his introductory news conference. “It’s not about the height, weight and speed. It’s about consistency and being a football player every day.”
The Redskins won’t draft a wide receiver, or any player, just because he’s tall. And maybe McCloughan won’t bypass a player like the shortest player on the top red zone receivers list, former Wayne Chrebet. But it’s likely that McCloughan will hold out for someone at least six feet tall and who plays like he’s much taller.
In any case, the Redskins need to improve their red zone efficiency if they are going to improve their winning percentage. The evidence that a big target can help them do that is pretty strong.