View Full Version : Jonathan Baldwin, Tall Receivers and the Steelers

03-20-2011, 10:45 AM
Jonathan Baldwin, Tall Receivers and the Steelers
Posted on March 19, 2011 by adam

We’ve spent some time over the past couple of days, particularly on our most recent podcast, talking about the (unlikely) possibility of the Steelers using their first-round draft pick on Pitt wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin. The topic was sparked by a mock draft from, of all places, Bleacher Report that justified the selection of Baldwin by saying the Steelers need somebody long and tall to complement Mike Wallace.

Ignoring for a second that Wallace was one of the most dominant wide receivers in the NFL this season without anything close to a long-and-tall receiver to complement him, Baldwin joins a list that includes Martin Nance and Matt Jones to be projected to the Steelers over the years all because of some perceived need for a tall receiver. This has become an annual event ever since Plaxico Burress left via free agency after the 2004 season. In past years Ben Roethlisberger has been one of the people pushing the agenda, but even he’s piped down on the topic. Perhaps because he’s been to three Super Bowls in the past five years (winning two) throwing to a bunch of guys that are under 6-foot-1.

(On those three Super Bowl teams, for what it’s worth, the Steelers received just six catches from a wide receiver taller than 6-foot-1 — all of them coming from 6-foot-5 Limas Sweed during the 2008 season.)

Back in the early days of Football Outsiders Ryan tackled this topic and found that size in a receiver is overrated. I decided to re-visit it for the 2010 season and take a quick look at the top-30 receivers in the NFL using FO’s DVOA (as always, you can read up on it here). The results: Of the top-30 receivers only 12 of them are listed as being 6-foot-2 or taller, including only two of the top-11. Here’s the complete list…
Top Wide Receivers 2010 By DVOA
Player DVOA Height Weight
Mike Wallace 48.9% 6′ 0 199
Austin Collie 28.5% 6′ 0 200
Kenny Britt 28.1 % 6′ 3 215
Robert Meachem 22.7% 6′ 2 210
Deion Branch 20.3% 5′ 9 195
Greg Jennings 19.7% 5′ 11 198
Brandon Lloyd 19.2% 6′ 0 194
Jeremy Maclin 15.4% 6′ 0 198
Johnny Knox 14.7% 6′ 0 185
Lance Moore 14.6% 5′ 9 190
Jordan Shipley 14.1 % 5′ 11 193
Kevin Walter 14.0% 6′ 3 218
Derrick Mason 13.6% 5′ 10 197
Andre Johnson 13.6% 6′ 3 225
Mario Manningham 12.3% 5′ 11 183
Miles Austin 12.1% 6′ 2 215
Dwayne Bowe 11.8% 6′ 2 221
Mike Sims-Walker 11.4% 6′ 2 214
Calvin Johnson 11.2 % 6′ 5 236
Mike Thomas 11.0% 5′ 8 198
Jordy Nelson 9.9% 6′ 3 217
Earl Bennett 9.3% 6′ 0 204
Hines Ward 9.1% 6′ 0 205
Malcolm Floyd 9.1% 6′ 5 225
Stevie Johnson 8.7% 6′ 2 202
Marques Colston 8.5% 6′ 4 225
Roddy White 8.3% 6′ 0 212
Jason Avant 8.2% 6′ 0 212
Wes Welker 7.9% 5′ 9 185

This doesn’t mean that you avoid tall receivers. Not at all. You would have to be a blithering idiot, in a football sense, to not want Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson on your team because they’re too tall. That’s nonsense. What you shouldn’t do, however, is draft a receiver simply because he is tall (and I don’t think there’s a team in the NFL that does this), or avoid one because he isn’t. It’s a nice advantage, but it’s not a necessity for being a productive player or having a productive passing offense.

UPDATE: Just because we’re feeling a little nerdy today (which is no different than any other day), Ryan ran a quick correlation on DVOA and Height and got -0.09, indicating there is virtually no relationship between the two, which is about what we expected.

03-20-2011, 07:58 PM
Yeah I do think we need a tall receiver simply to add another dimension to our offense, but I don't think we need to draft one right now. Third times the charm and if Sweed blows his third (I don't count last season cause he got injured preseason) then I say find a tall target next year.

I know we do fine without one, but think about what a tall receiver would add to our offense in red zone situations, one of our areas that always needs improvement. Ben has virtually never had a *reliable* guy who could jump up over DB's and bring a pass down in the endzone. Again not saying to draft one or give up on Sweed yet, but just saying it is something we could really use and we shouldn't just ignore it just because we have 3 young receivers with a ton of potential.

03-21-2011, 04:44 PM
if we could draft him in the second that woudl be a dream