CINCINNATI -- Odell Beckham Jr. might have once again dominated the headlines as NFL receivers are concerned, but he was outperformed by A.J. Green in a few important areas last season, according to data from Pro Football Focus.
Credit PFF's Mike Renner for digging up the numbers below, which he highlighted here Wednesday morning.
The story in the link above was PFF's justification for placing Green above Beckham on its rankings of the league's top 101 players. It's a list that was rolled out Monday, with Green's Cincinnati Bengals teammate Adam Jones starting things off as the 101st player. Green came in at No. 34, and Beckham, the New York Giants phenomenon, checked in at No. 37. Players 1-25 will be named Thursday morning.
According to Renner's statistics, Green was more efficient than Beckham overall, and he did that while having more deeper passes to catch. Beckham's greatest career highlights have come on downfield throws, but Green, it seems, was even better at catching long passes than than the Giants' standout last season.
Per PFF, about 66 percent of an average quarterback's throws are targeted within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Although Beckham was below that figure, drawing shorter passes on just 56.3 percent of his overall routes, Green was even lower. Green was targeted only 48.9 percent of the time on passes thrown less than 10 yards.
PFF goes on to point out that 67.1 percent of Green's 2015 targets were past the first-down marker, and that he converted a first down on 51.1 percent of those targets. Beckham was targeted 68.3 percent of the time past the first-down sticks, and converted 41.8 percent. The conclusion? Green was more apt to move the chains than Beckham.
Renner also found that despite drawing fewer targets (123 for Green and 153 for Beckham*), Green also had the league's second-highest passer rating when he was thrown to (121.9 passer rating for Green, 114.1 for Beckham), and that he caught a higher percentage of his targets (69.9 percent receptions/target rating for Green, 62.7 for Beckham).
Then there's this number I found when exploring my own comparison of the superstars. Beckham, whose miraculous one-handed catches have given him a reputation for catching virtually anything thrown his way, actually had more drops than Green in 2015. Beckham was credited with four drops as opposed to Green's three. Remember, Green had fewer targets. Also, going back to the deep balls, Green had just one drop on 63 targets that came on passes of 10 yards or more, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Beckham, per Stats & Information, had three drops on 74 of the deeper targets.
Perhaps these numbers are nitpicky, but they help prove two things: A) How good both receivers are, considering these are the lengths we must go to find some separation between them; and B) That Green really did slightly outshine Beckham in 2015, even if he didn't receive the same overall attention.
*ESPN Stats & Information credited Green with 129 overall targets in 2015, and Beckham with 157.