Inside The Bills

ESPN stat guru assesses Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on February 22, 2012 – 11:35 am

ESPN resident statistical guru KC Joyner recently put together an analysis of the top seven free agent wide receivers using some of his unique receiver metrics to ascertain which receivers offer the best free agent value. On that list was Bills free agent wideout Stevie Johnson.

Joyner used some unique metrics in addition to the familiar yards per attempt. They were vertical yards per attempt (VYPA), which measures productivity on aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield; and stretch vertical yards per attempt (SVYPA), which measures productivity on aerials thrown 20 or more yards.

Stevie was admittedly at a disadvantage for yards per attempt knowing how quickly the ball comes out in Chan Gailey’s offense, so not surprisingly he had the lowest yards per attempt. In any event Johnson’s yards per attempt were 8.0, his vertical yards per attempt were 11.6 and his stretch vertical yards per attempt were 14.8. Those figures among the top 7 wideouts profiled ranked 7th, 5th and 3rd.

Here was Joyner’s assessment of Johnson and his value.

Steve Johnson
Johnson posted quality VYPA and SVYPA totals last year despite being maybe the only good pass catcher on the Bills’ roster. He is the second-youngest player in this comparison and his height/weight combination fares well against the group.

Cons: Eighty-one of Johnson’s 129 targets were short passes, so he may be more of a dink/dunk receiver than a true vertical threat. What’s worse, his 5.7 short pass YPA was the lowest of any member of this group, so he may have limitations at that depth level. That said, Chan Gailey’s offense is built around the short pass, so he can’t fully be blamed for doing what he’s asked. 

Bottom line: Johnson wants to be paid like a true No. 1 wideout but there are too many facets of his game that say he has a production ceiling that doesn’t justify that type of expenditure.

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