Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery is quietly entering his third year with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he hasn\'t been quiet when it comes to making chain moving third downs in his previous two seasons with the team.
Cotchery, who will turn 31 years old in June, has registered 14 third down catches for 187 yards since arriving in Pittsburgh with 13 of those catches resulting in either a first down or a touchdown.
Last season alone, Cotchery caught 8 of 12 passes thrown his way on third down for a 66.7% completion ratio, which led all the Steelers eligible receivers who were targeted more than seven times on the money down.
Being clutch on third down in Pittsburgh, however, is nothing new for Cotchery. During his eight seasons with the New York Jets, 99 of his 127 third down catches (78%) produced first downs or touchdowns.
To better put into perspective what Cotchery has been able to do since coming into the league in 2004, there are 51 wide receivers who have been targeted 150 more times or more on third downs over the course of the last nine years and Cotchery ranks 14th overall on that list when it comes to third down conversions per target ratio with a 47.1% number.
While I admit that the stat above comes off as cherry picked and somewhat subjective, keep in mind who the quarterbacks in New York were that threw third down passes while Cotchery was there. It\'s a long list that includes Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez, Brett Favre, Kellen Clemens, Brooks Bollinger, Vinny Testaverde, Quincy Carter, Jay Fiedler and Mark Brunell.
In case you are curious, Cotchery\'s third down conversions per target ratio since arriving in Pittsburgh is 56.5%.
Now, I am very excited about rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton, as I truly believe he can blossom into a solid all-around pass catcher, but it will take some time for him to do that. While having to miss out on the OTA\'s and mandatory mini camp might not seem like a big deal, it is, and Cotchery himself admitted this past week that those missed reps were ones that Wheaton will never get back. They will catch him up as best as they can in training camp, but it will take some time before he can play at full speed.
Until Wheaton is ready, Cotchery should be able to serve as a stop gap third down contributor. He\'s not flashy at all, but he is Clutchery when it comes to needing the chains moved on third downs.
Sortable 2004-2012 Wide Receivers 3rd Down Reception Stats Minimum 150 Targets Per Pro football Reference
|PLAYER||TARG||REC||REC %||YDS||TD||FD||FD/REC %||FD/TARG %|
|Antwaan Randle El||172||105||61.00%||1270||5||79||75.20%||45.90%|
|Roy E. Williams||186||86||46.20%||1292||11||71||82.60%||38.20%|