Is Lance Moore An Even Better Third Down Wide Receiver Than Jerricho Cotchery Is?

When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery prior to the start of the 2011 season, one of the things that got me excited about him was his ability to move the chains on third downs. Now that he’s gone, the Steelers have signed former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore to assume his role and while we only have stats to go on, he might be even better on third downs than his predecessor was.

During his career, Cotchery has been targeted 263 times on third down and has caught 156 of those passes for a very respectable 59.3% completion ratio. Moore, however, has caught 86 of 158 passes thrown his way on third downs during his time with the Saints for an even better 65.8 completion ratio.

So how did those third down completions turn out for both players?

124 of Cotchery’s 156 third down receptions (79.5%) resulted in a first down. Moore, however, has converted 86 of his 104 third down receptions (82.7%) into first downs.

Now, the argument will be that Cotchery had to play several seasons with several sub par quarterbacks during his time with the New York Jets and I have already addressed that in a previous post. That’s why I was excited about his signing. Sub par quarterbacks on all, his 46% first down per third down target percentage was not bad considering the quarterbacks he played with. In case you are curious, Cotchery leaves the Steelers with a career 47.1% first down per third down target percentage, so you can see that playing with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger certainly benefited him.

Moore, on the other hand, has played his entire career with Saints quarterback Drew Brees and he enters 2014 with a 54.4% first down per third down target percentage.

So just how good as that 54.4% number?

Dating back to 2006, which was Moore’s first real year in the league, there have been 36 wide receivers targeted a total of 150 or more times on third downs. Moore not only has the highest completion percentage on third downs of those 36 players, he’s also tied with his former Saints teammate Marques Colston for the best first down per third down target percentage as well.

So, if the Steelers were trying to replace what Cotchery was able to provide the team on third downs, it looks like they have successful done that with the addition of Moore. At least thats what the stats tell us.

Sortable 2006-2013 Third Down Wide Receiver Targets – Minimum 150 To Qualify

PLAYERTARGRECREC %YDSTDFDFD/REC%FD/TARG%
Marques Colston25916262.5%24221914187.0%54.4%
Lance Moore15810465.8%1343118682.7%54.4%
Hines Ward17910759.8%1246179689.7%53.6%
Reggie Wayne31618558.5%26871816488.6%51.9%
Wes Welker28818764.9%21171414778.6%51.0%
Greg Jennings22113561.1%23932211283.0%50.7%
Roddy White34721261.1%31041817482.1%50.1%
Anquan Boldin26817063.4%22831413378.2%49.6%
T.J. Houshmandzadeh19612563.8%139669777.6%49.5%
Derrick Mason22213560.8%16701110880.0%48.6%
Donald Driver20212159.9%1753159881.0%48.5%
Jerricho Cotchery23413859.0%17021011281.2%47.9%
Dwayne Bowe24814458.1%20141411781.3%47.2%
Steve Johnson16610060.2%133197676.0%45.8%
Jason Avant1629055.6%123847482.2%45.7%
Randy Moss1527549.3%1236226890.7%44.7%
Andre Johnson24814558.5%18331310975.2%44.0%
James Jones1789653.9%1402117881.3%43.8%
DeSean Jackson1538354.2%147686780.7%43.8%
Santonio Holmes23912251.0%20151210485.2%43.5%
Nate Washington23112554.1%17531410080.0%43.3%
Vincent Jackson24011849.2%21461610387.3%42.9%
Larry Fitzgerald27814552.2%19231511982.1%42.8%
Brandon Marshall32718155.4%24802113876.2%42.2%
Calvin Johnson30614647.7%23521412787.0%41.5%
Davone Bess23814661.3%147089867.1%41.2%
Steve Smith27314151.6%21731311279.4%41.0%
Chad Johnson1898042.3%1175107796.3%40.7%
Michael Jenkins1659054.5%1118116774.4%40.6%
Braylon Edwards1999447.2%1405128085.1%40.2%
Nate Burleson1618250.9%100296478.0%39.8%
Michael Crabtree1659758.8%123076567.0%39.4%
Terrell Owens1979548.2%1476127680.0%38.6%
Lee Evans1527549.3%1327105674.7%36.8%
Santana Moss26413149.6%1668129471.8%35.6%
Bernard Berrian1556743.2%97175277.6%33.5%

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • mlc43

    Let the ranters and doomsayers begin the bashing. lol

  • PA2AK

    always happens. I’m just surprised its happening with a #3/#4 WR position. usually it happens when the Steelers let go a former pro-bowl type guy (of course, usually to have him replaced without much of a hitch).

  • PA2AK

    Any idea when the terms will be out? Sorry if they already are!

  • Iron Cadet

    How does a rookie receiver fit in now? With Moore in the slot and wheaton and brown outside, then would we really draft a receiver high so that he can be the 4th?

  • Douglas Andrews

    From the numbers seemed like the Steelers did a good job replacing Cotch. Hey Dave I thought Lance Moore was a PR also would he be asked to do that with the Steelers?

  • Matt Manzo

    I think there are still some questions with Wheaton. And unless Moore impresses in camp I think he’s just a role player? Not sure the FO is thinking he’ll be here for years? A rookie could still come in and play.
    I think it’s a bad sign for Moye and/or JBrown. Moore and a rookie will bump them off.

  • SteelersDepot

    This means nothing as far as the draft goes.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Great signing in my opinion!

  • Jon Crissinger

    Haha I read it and saw the figure that said Lance Moore had caught 86/158 for a ratio of 65.8%. I was like uhhh that didn’t make sense, but I figured it out when I went down to the table. 104/158 when targeted on 3rd down.

  • pittsburghjoe

    I was wondering the same thing. How much did he cost? I hope they stole him.

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    I think people may be jumping ahead of themselves. Moore is replacing Sanders next season…for now. Wheaton has not proved anything on the field yet and typically rookie receivers don’t play much…regardless of who is chosen this draft.

  • PA2AK

    not true about rookies…even in Pittsburgh. any reason you think the Steelers currently have Wheaton as a #3?

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    I am not excited about it…I am just stating what is typically the Steelers approach. It’s very conservative when it comes to receivers and they usually have a learning curve. Wheaton’s rookie season was essentially a wash with being late to training activity and being plagued with injuries. Moore may end up being a serviceable number two while the others find their wings.

  • PA2AK

    Wallace had 40 rec and 760 yds his rookie season and then 1200+yds second season. AB did squat his rookie season and 1,000+ his second season. Steelers have done very well with their selections of WRs as of late and feel very confident about Wheaton. I’d put money on Wheaton starting the season at #2.

  • PA2AK

    Also, WR seems to be one of the easiest positions to transition into the NFL.

  • Jason Vancil

    Show how good Brees has been on 3rd downs.

  • srdan

    I think this is more true for the physcial specimen type guys. But for the guys we have had succeed recently, I don’t think it is easy. They have to run good routes to get open.

  • Alan Felicia

    I agree. Moore is basically the same type of receiver as Brown and Wheaton. Perhaps, coaching staff not sold on Wheaton? Maybe Moore was brought in as depth and to compete against Wheaton?

  • SteelersDepot

    I suppose you don’t realize that since 2006 that Brees has a 48% first down conversion rate per attempt on 3rd downs and Roethlisberger has a 46.8% rate. That’s pretty damn close.

  • Steve

    Great pickup for our Steelers. Just what we needed to take Cotch spot and bring in some leadership and Expierience.

  • Steve

    Actually we lost 2 WR (Sander + Cotch) and picked one up one(Moore). Either Wheaton, JBrown or Moye needs to step up and start.

  • Jason Vancil

    I knew Bens 3rd down % was fairly high. Just pointing out the top 2 WR’s were Saints.

  • Ray

    It MAY mean they don’t draft 2 receivers.

  • Bill Molinaro

    I didn’t like the consideration of Moore but not because of his production, but because of his injury history. If he stays healthy he should be an above average contributor.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Moore had to make the catches but Sean Payton is a offensive mastermind and IMO Moores success is more on the scheme then the player.

  • WilliamSekinger

    What injury history? All I could find was him missing 3 games with a wrist injury.

  • Johnny Loose

    Hines at #3 on this list. Still miss him..

  • Bill Molinaro

    He had hamstring and recurring ankle injuries especially in 2009. Also he seemed to be used sparingly which to me indicates they may have been concerned about his durability.

  • disqus_uNWNJjLmTd

    Great signing.. great route runner and hands… cheap and EVERYONE from the Saints organization has nothing but great things to say about the guy. Depending on who is available at the 15 spot as far as WR and CB .. I am leaning CB

  • Matt Manzo

    I’m hoping JBrown shoes up! If he gets the chances Moye got last year at least we’ll know if he can play. I’d love for both Moye and JB to make it but I feel like Moye might be on his last chance? I think more WRs will be brought in to camp for competition, too. Not just the top pick but some udfas too. I just want to see JBrown given every opportunity.

  • Matthew Suloman

    Ok. Here it is – and why we have issues with personnel, or lack of in recent years. Not letting Sanders go to NE last year boggles my mind. The ripple effect; loss of a valuable 3rd rounder last year. Many quality players were available, instead they had to make up ground and LOSE one this year for Shamarko. Yes they have a comp(probably) for Wallace. But The FO namely Colbert has destroyed our Franchise… It’s a fact! No one will ever make me view it different

  • Matthew Suloman

    Stedman bailey stepped up…..LAST YEAR. Let’s take justin brown over Kenny Stills, while were at it. Why the F@&$ the Rooneys haven’t fired Colbert yet is a mystery. Here’s a dandy Chris Rainey over Marvin jones, and oh boy….Sean spence in favor of T.Y. Hilton

  • Matthew Suloman

    Yes, my steeler depot friends. Reciever shouldn’t even be a concern, if we had DRAFTED BETTER oh say since about 2006. No need to bore you with the 30+ players, (all positions), that we didn’t take – who contributed well for others. I would hope u agree control freak/ego Colbert needs axed

  • Matthew Suloman

    Wheaton was the wrong choice. Stedman Bailey should have been the pick

  • Matthew Suloman

    Was Big Ben on drugs, when he pleaded the FO to keep Sanders last year. Or did he want to pad his numbers for his own gain – with a trusted veteran. Coincidence?! Think not

  • Matthew Suloman

    There are some questions alright. Ewwwww what me go over the middle?! Stedman Bailey would have

  • Matthew Suloman

    He won’t Matt, and I’m not Polly the pessimist either

  • Matthew Suloman

    Just another typical steeler late round botch

  • Matthew Suloman

    Heck the ravens reciever mellette is better

  • Matthew Suloman

    They MAY draft two BUSTS with Colbert at the helm… Insert WiLL

  • Matthew Suloman

    I’ll be excited, when the Rooneys muster up enough nerve – to show Colbert the door

  • Matthew Suloman

    I dont

  • Matthew Suloman

    Once again… Should have unloaded sanders last year. This has messed everything up. Why they took Wheaton over Bailey is baffling.

  • Matt Manzo

    Yeah. Mellette was on my big board.

  • Steve

    Are you here with good intents? Looks like a troll on board!

  • Brendon Glad

    I’ve always been quite fond of both players, so as I criticized the Steelers letting Cotchery get away so cheaply, I applaud their quick and decisive response. Great signing. Very similar reliable veteran chain-movers.

  • Brendon Glad

    I think the Steelers have decided that they do not want to be forced to draft a WR until later…and I consider that a wise move, since the WR position has been widely considered the deepest in the draft. I think the Steelers would prefer to focus on Backer (either a pure ILB…or a guy like Timmons was who could be tried at both OLB and ILB)…or for a DE or CB….I think they wanted to get WR out of their “immediate need” range….and they did.

  • Brendon Glad

    But they still need to be correct on Wheaton…and even if they are, they will need a trusted number 4 for 3rd and long. So I expect another veteran (yes maybe even Plaxico)…to be signed…and 1 lower draft pick on WR’s….and if they hit on the draft pick, or J. Brown or moye comes thru(as in, one immediately proves capable of handling NFL #4WR) then the aging veteran (Plaxico-type) will get cut…and if they don’t, then the aging vet will stay, and they will either carry an extra WR, or cut 1 or 2 of the young guys.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Yes, they would they like to bring WR along slowly.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Probably because of two rings, and being in the playoff hunt every year. But hey lets fire him

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Really what did he do last year for the rams? Bubkus, back away from the ledge

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    The Steelers under Colbert & Tomlin are one of the best at drafting and developing WR. You can’t argue with 3 bonafide NFL starters, but you will find a way I am sure.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    What about Cotchery? Haley for his faults, is pretty creative.

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    They could not afford the first year cap hit, which was 2.5 million. And there is a lot to be said for playing in front of your family.

  • Iron Cadet

    How do u know?

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I like Haley but he is no Sean Payton. The proof is in the stats over the years.