Cordarrelle Patterson: Scouting vs. Statistics

Hey everyone. I'm back again with another stat-based article, this time looking into the Vikings last but certainly not least first round pick, Cordarrelle Patterson. Many people throughout the draft process pegged Patterson as a potential elite WR, but one who came with a low floor, due to him being raw coming out of college. He was called a body catcher, and an unrefined route runner.


I'm currently studying to be a Civil Engineer. As you can probably imagine, numbers are a big part of the game. Hell, they are the game for engineers. Everything I have learned so far has a formula behind it. Every steel beam has pages of statistics, as does every piece of concrete. Because of this, I'm kind of into numbers. Earlier this summer, while doing some research on rookie wide receivers, I stumbled upon a fantasy football website whose namewas dedicated to one of the funnest shows on TV, Arrested Development. If you are a fan of the show, you will immediately understand how awesome the name of the website is. The creator evidently is a big AD fan, as he named his website

Anyway, while reading some articles on MitBS, I stumbled upon an article detailing the authors personal rookie WR rankings, which he compiled using two main statistics: Dominator Ranking or DR, and Height Adjusted Speed Score, or HaSS. These two statistics by themselves incorporate a players college statistics and their physical dominance.

Height Adjusted Speed Score

Generally, the larger/faster the receiver is, the better. Being 5-11 and running a 4.6 40 won't preclude you from being a good WR, but it certainly doesn't do you any favors. Tried as I might, I couldn't find the formula for HaSS, so I can only go off of the end results from HaSS is tiered, where 100 is exactly average, above 110 is excellent, and above 120 is absolute physical dominance.

Dominator Rating

This statistic is much easier to understand, and relatively easy to calculate. I'll take you through the simple calculation, but we need to take a step back for a minute. The statistic DR is built upon two key statistics: Market Share of Yards, and Market Share of Touchdowns. Some of you may have heard of it, others may not. Its not an extremely common statistic as far as I can tell. Basically, what Market Share measures is a receivers dominance relative to the rest of his team. Whenever people have tried to compare college receivers, particularly recently with the rise of the spread offense, the question has been, how do one receivers yards stack up against another's?

Lets do a simple example. What if Player A had 1200 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns, while Player B had 800 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns? At first glance, player A would appear to have had a much better season. However, what if Player A's team that year had a total of 4000 yards passing and 40 passing touchdowns, while Player B's team only passed for 2000 total yards and only 12 touchdowns? That's where Market Share comes into play. Essentially, all MS is, is a players total yards or touchdowns divided by the teams total yards or touchdowns.

The reasoning behind the concept of Market Share is as follows: on any given passing down, there are 5 different targets for the QB to throw to. If all players were equally talented, the QB would distribute his targets evenly, with each option receiving 20% of the teams total targets. If a player is talented though, they would start receiving more of their teams respective passing stats. A player that receives a good portion of their teams passing stats would generally be more skilled at getting open, therefore the QB would target them more often.

So in our hypothetical analysis of Player's A and B, we see that, according to Market Share of Yards and Touchdowns, Player B was actually much more effective within his respective offense, as he accounted for:

  • 40% of his teams total yardage
  • 50% of his teams total passing Touchdowns
While player A only achieved
  • 30% of his teams total yardage
  • 25% of his teams total passing Touchdowns
Using Market Share, we can start to equalize different yardage totals within different offenses to see which receivers were truly dominant. Dominator Rating simply takes the two different Market Share measurements and averages them. So Player A would have a DR of .275, which is mediocre. Player B, on the other hand, has a DR of .45, which is very, very strong. Coupling that with HaSS, we can start to identify wide receivers who are dominant in college and are physical monsters.

So who comes up on our list of HaSS monsters? I'm sure many can probably guess, but the number 1 overall, all time HaSS king is: Calvin Johnson. Not really a surprise there, as the guy is 6-5, 238 pounds and ran a sub 4.4 40. Couple that with his amazing .56 DR, and we can easily see why Johnson is the best WR in the game today.

So who are some other top HaSS Monsters currently playing WR in the NFL? It is your veritable who's who list of physically dominant receivers.
  • Vincent Jackson, with an HaSS of 131 and a DR of .63
  • Julio Jones, with an HaSS of 127, and a DR of .32
  • Stephen Hill, with an HaSS of 125, and a DR of .45*
*It should be noted, that due to the Triple Option offense he played in, Stephen Hill's DR might be somewhat overblown. It also explains why when he got drafted, he could only run go routes.

Those are 3 of the top HaSS scores on record. Lets now take a look at some of the top picks in the 2013 draft, and see how they measured up. I will list them in the order they were selected. Charles Johnson was not picked anywhere near the top 2 rounds of the draft, but his production and athleticism grades make him one of the better prospects in this draft. The knock on him is that he was from such a small school, that the level of competition was inferior and not a good test of his abilities. Also, that he will have trouble adjusting to NFL level competition. I'll wait here patiently while you Google which team drafted Johnson. Or you could click on the link I setup for you and get your swearing out of the way that much faster.

*The DR in parentheses includes their rushing statistics. **The DR in parentheses for Dobson is his 2011 season, in which he was dominant relative to his pathetic 2012 season.

That takes us through the 2nd round of the 2013 draft, and while there are other standouts from the draft that I didn't add to the list, that isn't really the point of this article. As you can see, CP84 has a very good HaSS, but a shockingly low DR. The bit about his HaSS confirms what we've already known: he is a physical monster. The low DR though, would seemingly indicate that he wasn't very good in his final season in college. Adding in his rushing statistics helps him somewhat, but a DR of .24 is still pedestrian.

Scouting Saves the Day

While the previous paragraph makes it look that I am down on CP84, I'm actually not. Quite the opposite. This is where the 'scouting vs statistics' enteres the equation. The statistics side of the equation is down on CP84. This is where the disconnect between scouting and stats comes into play. Football, for all the recent work that has been done in the statistics side of things, is not Baseball. Sabermetrics took Baseball by storm, because it is such a statistic driven game. Football to is statistic driven, however not to the extent that Baseball is. There are numerous things, too many to list, that will never show up in a box score in Football. Another reason why 'Sabermetrics' haven't become quite as popular for Football as for Baseball, is that while they are absolutely useful, they are not always 100% accurate. As far as scouting CP84 goes, the Vikings clearly saw something that they liked in him. That is part of the disconnect between scouting and statistics. Neither method will guarantee 100% accuracy, but that doesn't mean that one or the other doesn't have value. It also means that just because one method identifies a player as not very good, it doesn't mean that that player can't have success. Furthermore, I highly doubt the Vikings would have given up so many picks for him if they didn't know exactly what his weaknesses were, and had a plan for overcoming them. It also should be noted that there are wide receivers that have achieved NFL success despite having low DR numbers. In fact, you all are very familiar with him

Percy Harvin

Coming out of college, Harvin was billed as a multi-use player. Someone who could take a screen pass to the house, run the ball out of the backfield, and also catch passes down the field. He absolutely lived up to that billing during his time in Minnesota. While never the best route runner, his versatility and explosiveness made him one of the best, albeit unconventional, wide receivers in the game. No one will ever confuse Harvin with a traditional number 1 receiver, but you don't have to have a dominant HaSS to find success in the NFL. While I don't have the formula to calculate it, I suspect that Jerry Rice's HaSS isn't going to crack a top anything list anytime soon. Obviously, Rice is an extreme example, but the point holds. HaSS and DR are great tools, and ones that can help us identify future Elite WRs, but it isn't an all encompassing tool.

Back to Patterson

So now, we are left with a WR who is physically dominant, particularly with the ball in his hands, but relatively unaccomplished as a college receiver. Couple that with reports of his body catching, sloppy route running, and poor release, and what exactly do what have on our hands? Well, it seems that we have exactly what we thought we would have when we drafted him: a raw receiver who has tons of potential. The reason why I'm not as alarmed as some might be with Patterson's low DR is because that was his only year of playing against top college opponents. The fact that he came in as an unrefined player, and did as well as he did, is impressive to me. From all of Arif's accounts from training camp, he has slowly started to improve his route running, has been working on his release, and is decidedly not a body catcher.

I've seen people say they see a little Julio Jones in him before, which I don't think is a fair comparison to either player. While they are both physical specimens, Julio Jones is very accomplished as a route runner, and was much farther ahead of CP84 when he came out of college. That's not to say that Patterson can't get there, but he is definitely not there yet.

So, what can we expect from Patterson moving forward? Well, the Vikings will obviously attempt to get him the ball in space, and let him do his thing. People who want him to overtake Simpson this year had better hope that he picks up the finer points of being an NFL receiver quickly. As for his long term prospects, it really is a waiting game at this point. He has the physical tools to be an Elite NFL wide receiver, that much is clear. Whether he becomes that all depends on if he can pick up the finer points of the game. If he isn't able to do this, he won't necessarily be a bust, he could still find success, but it probably won't end up looking like Julio Jones' success. It will be more like Percy Harvin's success.

Thanks for staying with me on another long post, hopefully the numbers didn't get too bad, as I did try and keep them simple. If there is enough interest in it, I will do a follow up post on HaSS and DR for people as it relates to fantasy football for the upcoming 2013 season. Thanks again.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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