Thoughts on where NFC West players ranked for 2011 in yards per pass target:
The players ranked second through seventh included four first-round picks and a second-rounder. The player ranked first, rookie Doug Baldwin, was not drafted. Think how many teams would draft Baldwin if given second chances. Seattle would have.
Larry Fitzgerald's 9.2-yard average ranked a close second and was the most impressive mark in the division because he had so many targets (153).
Sidney Rice did not make the intended impact in Seattle, but he did average 15.1 yards per catch and 8.5 per attempt. Those numbers were healthier than Rice, who battled injuries and currently faces three to four months rehabilitation from shoulder surgery.
Braylon Edwards' 5.3-yard average says plenty about why the San Francisco 49ers released him. Injuries were a factor. We can speculate over whether Edwards fit well with the team, but a lack of production was the No. 1 issue. He did average 9.3 yards per target on third down, however. That ranked third in the division.
Filtering to show third-down averages produced results of interest for qualifying players (min. 10 targets on third down). Niners rookie Kyle Williams shot to the head of the list with an 11.9-yard average on 11 targets. Six of those 11 plays gained first downs. He had gains of 56, 15, 12, 11, 10, 10, 9 and 8 yards on third down.
Baldwin ranked second to Williams on third down, averaging 9.7 yards on a division-high 42 targets. Teammate Golden Tate was fifth at 8.8 yards per third-down target, ahead of Fitzgerald (7.7). Tate had 19 third-down targets, a relatively high number (Fitzgerald had 31).
Brandon Lloyd's average with St. Louis should have been higher. The Rams threw to him frequently and weren't able to connect enough. I'd blame that on overall offensive incompetence, including at quarterback. Lloyd was no the problem in St. Louis.
Dropped passes help explain why Frank Gore ranks so low on the list. Gore had seven drops on 30 targets. Only Cleveland's Montario Hardesty averaged fewer receptions per drop among players with at least five catches, and it was close (2.3 to 2.4). Seattle tight ends Anthony McCoy (2.6) and Cameron Morrah (3.0) were third and fourth on that list. The Seahawks went all season without a touchdown reception from their tight ends. Zach Miller added a welcome dimension as a blocker, at least.
Thanks to Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information for providing raw data for me to mine.