NFL Draft History: Jerry Rice, Isaac Bruce—Why 1995 Was the Year of the WR

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NFL Draft History: Jerry Rice, Isaac Bruce—Why 1995 Was the Year of the WR
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In 1995, four wide receivers each put together one of the best single seasons that a WR has ever had. I am attempting to figure out which of the following wideouts had the best season: Michael Irvin, Jerry Rice, Isaac Bruce, and Herman Moore.

Between them, they caught 475 passes, boasted 6,918 yards, and found the end zone 52 times. I’ll start by comparing their basic stats:

Michael Irvin
111 Receptions
1,603 Yards
10 Touchdowns
14.4 Yards per Reception

Jerry Rice
122 Receptions
1,848 Yards
15 Touchdowns
15.1 Yards per Reception

Isaac Bruce
119 Receptions
1,781 Yards
13 Touchdowns
15.0 Yards per Reception

Herman Moore
123 Receptions
1,686 Yards
14 Touchdowns
13.7 Yards per Reception

Their basic statistics are very even. It’s difficult to decide which wideout had the best season by solely looking at basic statistics. Why? Because there are other factors that come in to play. Let's dive deeper into the stats and compare their advance stats (courtesy of footballoutsiders.com):

Note: The Wide Receiver’s rank for each stat in 1995 is in parenthesis.


Michael Irvin
DYAR: 636 (first)
DVOA: 33.9 percent (first)
Effective Yards: 2,050 (second)
Catch Rate: 67 percent

Jerry Rice
DYAR: 550 (second)
DVOA: 26.3 percent (fifth)
Effective Yards: 1,962 (third)
Catch Rate: 70 percent 

Isaac Bruce
DYAR: 470 (third)
DVOA: 18.1 percent (11th)
Effective Yards: 1,939 (fourth)
Catch Rate: 60 percent 

Herman Moore

DYAR: 470 (third)
DVOA: 15.2 percent (15th)
Effective Yards: 2,067 (first)
Catch Rate: 60 percent

It should be noted that catch rate is sometimes a misleading statistic for a few reasons. Catch Rate represents the percentage of passes to this receiver completed.

The stat is very dependent on the quarterback. A quarterback's accuracy is the most important part.

Most of the time it’s not the receiver's fault that the pass is incomplete. Also, there is no shame in being the No. 1 target for your team if the quarterback throwing a ton of passes your way.

It appears that Michael Irvin did the best in the advanced statistics above. Lets see who did the best in Per 20 Receptions below:

Note: I rounded to the nearest ones place when necessary.

Michael Irvin

20 Receptions
288 Yards
2 Touchdowns

Jerry Rice
20 Receptions
302 Yards
3 Touchdowns

Isaac Bruce

20 Receptions
300 Yards
2 Touchdowns

Herman Moore
20 Receptions
274 Yards
3 Touchdowns

Jerry Rice had the clear-cut advantage in Per 20 Receptions. But there is still one crucial part left. And that is the surrounding casts of each WR.

As most of us know, quarterbacks have a major effect on wide receivers. Common sense tells us that the better the QB, the easier it is for a WR. Let’s compare what each wide receiver had around him:

Michael Irvin: Troy Aikman. Aikman had 3,304 yards, 16 touchdowns, and a 93.6 QB Rtg in 1995. Irvin accounted for about 34 percent of the Cowboys receptions, about 56 percent of the Cowboys receiving yards, and about 62 percent of the Cowboys receiving touchdowns.


Jerry Rice: Steve Young. Young played only 11 games. He compiled 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns, and had a QB Rtg. of 92.3. Elvis Grbac had 1,469 yards, 8 touchdowns, and a 96.6 QB Rtg. Rice accounted for about 29 percent of the 49ers receptions, about 40 percent of the 49ers receiving yards, and about 53 percent of the 49ers receiving touchdowns.


Isaac Bruce:
Mark Rypien and Chris Miller. The two quarterbacks combined for 4,071 yards, 27 touchdowns, and a QB Rtg. of 77.1. Bruce accounted for about 33 percent of the Rams receptions, about 44 percent of the Rams receiving yards, and about 48 percent of the Rams receiving touchdowns.

Herman Moore: Scott Mitchell. Mitchell had 4,338 yards, 32 touchdowns, and had a QB Rtg. of 92.3. Moore accounted for about 34 percent of the Lions receptions, about 37 percent of the Lions receiving yards, and about 42 percent of the Lions receiving touchdowns.

It's clear that each of these receivers played a tremendous role in their teams offenses. By the stats, Michael Irvin had the biggest role.

He accounted for 34 percent of the Cowboys receptions, 56 percent of the Cowboys receiving yards, and 62 percent of the Cowboys touchdowns. But he also played with a hall of fame QB.

Isaac Bruce played with the two worst quarterbacks, making it harder for him to produce. Jerry Rice surprisingly accounted for the least amount of his team’s receptions and second least in receiving yards, and played with a hall of fame QB.

Herman Moore accounted for the least amount of his team’s receiving yards and touchdowns, and also played with statistically the best QB that season.

Overall, all four of these wide receivers had amazing seasons. It’s tough to decide which one you would take. Hopefully you enjoyed this. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to answer the question: Which wide receiver had the best season in 1995?

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