Is Brandon Lloyd the Best Receiver in the NFL?
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Brandon Lloyd was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round of the 2003 draft with the 124th pick. At the denouement of Lloyd’s collegiate career, he established himself as one of the most prolific receivers in the history of the University of Illinois’ football program.
At the dawn of his NFL career, Lloyd was always considered to be a very talented receiver who could never liberate the full potential of that incredible talent. He often came to meetings late and never really applied himself to his profession.
During his tenure as a San Francisco 49er, Lloyd’s production was nothing but average. He never once produced a 1,000-yard season and never surpassed 50 catches in a season. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Lloyd did however display an adequate ability to get to the end zone: He produced 11 total touchdowns during that time period.
The 49ers were tired of waiting for him to develop and unleash his potential. Thus resulting in them trading him to the Washington Redskins in the 2006 offseason for two subsequent draft picks in the 2006 and 2007 NFL drafts.
In Washington, Lloyd’s luck didn’t improve; in fact, it worsened. Lloyd’s production was absolutely abysmal. In his first year with the Redskins, Lloyd averaged 1.5 receptions and 24.3 yards per game in 15 games; mind you that Lloyd was a starter as evident by his 12 starts that season. Consequently, Lloyd lacked much participation in the Redskins' offense in the 2007 season. He was subsequently released by the Redskins after the 2007 season.
Thence, Lloyd was signed by the Chicago Bears, where he yet again didn’t show much improvement.
With the bevy of talented receivers on the 2009 Broncos roster, Lloyd only played in two games. Thenceforth, in peculiar and befuddling fashion, Lloyd would establish himself as the best wide receiver in the NFL (in my opinion of course).
Now… I say in “my opinion” because labels such as “best” and “greatest” are often very subjective, contextual and most importantly in and of themselves, very loaded terms.
In the 2010 season, Lloyd’s production exploded exponentially. He led the entire league with 1,448 yards receiving. His 11 touchdowns were tied for fourth best in the entire league.
His most remarkable statistic however, is maintaining 18.8 yards per reception while being among the most targeted receivers in the entire NFL (153 passes were thrown his way). While his 50 percent catch rate is certainly unremarkable, the caveat of having the third highest deep percentage (44.4 percent) among receivers in the league certainly reduces the stench of his catch rate.
In the Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replace (DYAR) rankings, Lloyd finished second only to Mike Wallace for the 2010 season. In the efficiency apparatus of Defense-adjusted Yards Over Average (DVOA) Lloyd finished seventh in the league.
It’s relevant to point out that all the receivers rated ahead of Lloyd in DVOA were targeted extremely less than Lloyd. The only receiver that was rated ahead of Lloyd in DVOA and targeted more the 100 times is Greg Jennings. Even so, Lloyd was still targeted 28 more times than Jennings.
The conclusion of my thesis will not be of arbitrary statistics, nonsensical awards or some ridiculous team/game he was selected to play. While all those have value in some way, in terms evaluation of a players true talent they rarely give a clear and precise picture.
Watching games on television, or reviewing “tape,” and even watching highlights tend to provide the fanatic with a more succinct idea of players production and/or talent.
With that said, I provide you with this video to judge for yourself.
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