Pro Football Focus Grades Antonio Brown Above All Wide Receivers

By Matthew Marczi

Through six weeks of the 2013 NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the best wide receiver in the game, and it really is not all that close, according to the advanced metrics of Pro Football Focus.

The website gives Antonio Brown an overall grade of 14.0, which is 2.5 grade points higher than the second-highest-graded receiver, Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears. Making the figure even more impressive is the fact that the Steelers have already had their Bye week, so Brown’s figures are a game short of the majority of the rest of the league.

The degree to which Brown outpaces the rest of the league purely as a receiver, however, is even greater when one considers that a large part of Marshall’s grade comes from his blocking, with a grade of 3.4.

The second-highest-graded receiver in terms of his work in the passing game is Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, with a grade of 8.7. Antonio Brown’s passing grade comes in at 12.8.

Pro Football Focus obviously really likes what Brown has been able to do thus far this season, but what exactly are they seeing in him that places his performance so much higher than others?

Among starting wide receivers, Antonio Brown has the highest catch percentage in the league, catching 41 of his 50 targets, or a clean 82 percent. In fact, nobody with 25 or more targets has a higher catch percentage.

Additionally, he has among the lowest drop percentages among qualified players in the league, being docked for just one drop in his 50 targets. Torrey Smith has yet to drop a pass in his 52 targets, but he has only caught 28 of them.

Then there are of course simply the raw numbers. Despite being a game behind, Brown’s 498 yards ranks seventh in the league—sixth among wide receivers—while his 99.6 yards per game ranks fourth.

Only Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans has more receptions than Brown, whose 41 is tied for second with Julian Edelman and Julio Jones behind Johnson’s 44. His 27 first downs is also tied for second in the league behind Johnson, with New Orleans Saints glorified tight end Jimmy Graham.

Remember when Brown supposedly had it out with offensive coordinator Todd Haley over the way he was being used through the first two games? Since then, Brown has 30 receptions on 35 targets, 370 yards, and two touchdowns. Additionally, 126 of his 182 yards after the catch have come in the last three games. Add to that 75 yards on two pass interference penalties drawn in the past two games. It is no wonder so much of the offense has been going through Brown this year.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Ahmad

    Keep giving this guy the ball!

  • steeltown

    A.Brown has been awesome, hope he can up his TD production.

    Its nice to see some pass interference penalties go our way, sometimes when your receiver has a step on a DB you just need to chuck it out there over their heads, a lot of times the DB will grab or hold when they’ve been beat by a step our two

  • Eric

    Great job AB. Keep it going.

  • srdan

    I watched him at the stadium last week. He was going against Cromartie who is no slouch and a crafty veteran. I have to say that AB was open 90% of the time in man to man coverage. And Sexy Rexy was aware of him all the time. The mix of quickness, speed and hands is off the charts. He is extremely explosive ala Steve Smith. By DBs body language you can tell that they don’t want to cover him. He is very crafty and his quickness gets DBs on skates in intermediate routes. He gets off the line as well with his quickness.
    Another good foresight by the front office.

  • mlc43

    Now, if we can just keep him from dropping easy TDs.

  • treeher

    From watching other games, I’ve come to believe that the Steelers actually get screwed by the officials a bit more than average – more so on the side of no calls than unfair penalties (even though they picked up a flag against Sanders). Prime example: On a sack, Ben driven into the ground. Had this been Manning or Brady, flags would have flown. Some of the marginal penalties called against Steelers could be avoided with better technique (such as borderline holding call on Beach at the goal line).

  • Jeff

    Love the way AB is playing… I hope these guys start to step up in the redzone and start getting some TDs on a regular basis.

  • CrazyTerry

    Cromartie was injured. Nevertheless, i do think that AB is having a damn good season so far. But his ability to get open is not the best in the league. He also doesnt have the same size as some of the big elite WRs . PFF does not seem to factor that stuff in.
    But once again, I too am thrilled that AB has rebounded from a subpar season. Sanders is showing a little bit more these days though he made me nervous on his fumble that he ended up recovering anyway.

  • charles

    So many criticize Haley. What this article is also saying is that our O is getting better just like last year. We desperately need blindside protection for Big Ben. Bring back Starks if we have to but please KC get someone to play LT.

  • WilliamSekinger

    I understand your thinking on Starks, but I really disagree. Starks is a miserable failure in run blocking, and he is definitely not suited for a zone blocking scheme. There are 2 sides to playing tackle.

  • Dr. Doom

    Great pick Kevin

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Plax said ab will be the best wr this yr

  • joed32

    He can’t pass block anymore either he was cut twice already this year.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Pass interference is Flacco’s bread and butter play.

  • steeltown

    Indeed

  • Fire.Mike.Tomlin

    Finally a PFF article that somewhat jives with more realistic analysis (DVOA).

  • T R

    Thought i was the only one that noticed that..