News Flash: Big Receivers Score Touchdowns Inside The Red Zone

I have posted several times this offseason about the Pittsburgh Steelers need to find a receiver that can score inside the red zone and especially since the team has now lost wide receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders during the free agent signing period.

I don’t really care if that receiver is a wide out or tight end, or is only four foot tall, as long as that player can score inside the red zone. However, recent history shows us that the big players score the red zone touchdowns in the NFL.

Over the course of the last three seasons, there have been 48 players that have caught nine or more red zone touchdowns. Of those 48 players, 41 are 6 foot tall or better and 32 of them are 6 foot, 2 inches or taller.

Interesting enough, 21 of those players were tight ends.

So how did the big college receivers do in college in 2013 inside the red zone? In the second table below, you will see that there were 29 players that caught six or more red zone touchdowns last season. Of those 29 players, 20 of them are supposedly over six foot tall. Six of those players are tight ends.

None of this should be considered breaking news, but it’s one more thing to think about with the draft now less than one month away.

2010-2013 NFL Red Zone Touchdown Catches

Jimmy Graham714157.70%276062260
Eric Decker603660.00%246031217
Rob Gronkowski513364.70%236062258
Tony Gonzalez634165.10%226041244
Wes Welker655381.50%215086195
Brandon Marshall663147.00%216044229
Calvin Johnson683044.10%196050239
Dez Bryant503060.00%196020224
Marques Colston523567.30%176045224
Jordy Nelson503060.00%176025217
A.J. Green632844.40%166035211
James Jones392666.70%166006207
Vernon Davis352262.90%166032254
Demaryius Thomas472757.40%156032224
Antonio Gates392461.50%156040260
Vincent Jackson512549.00%146046241
Kyle Rudolph282278.60%136061259
Jermichael Finley332060.60%136044243
Darren Sproles503774.00%125061187
Larry Fitzgerald623454.80%126027225
Roddy White622743.50%126012207
Steve Johnson482143.80%126017210
Greg Olsen432148.80%126057257
Lance Moore372362.20%125092182
Jerricho Cotchery331751.50%126004212
Jason Witten462554.30%126056264
Jermaine Gresham312167.70%126052261
Torrey Smith371643.20%116007204
Greg Jennings392564.10%115111197
Scott Chandler291655.20%116070270
Anthony Fasano332060.60%116041259
Mike Williams442045.50%116014221
Heath Miller392359.00%106050256
Brandon Pettigrew411741.50%106053263
Julio Jones382052.60%106026220
Golden Tate331854.50%105102199
Aaron Hernandez372054.10%106023245
Marvin Jones181477.80%106017199
Joel Dreessen251664.00%106042260
Anquan Boldin391743.60%96005216
Brent Celek402357.50%96037255
Victor Cruz412151.20%95115206
Reggie Wayne411741.50%96000198
Martellus Bennett361747.20%96061259
Dennis Pitta231356.50%96044245
Dallas Clark321650.00%96033257
Owen Daniels291344.80%96033253
Denarius Moore281450.00%95115194

2013 College Red Zone Touchdown Catches

WRDavante Adams136007212
WRWillie Snead115110195
WRQuincy Enunwa106020225
WRBrandin Cooks105096189
WRMatt Miller96022222
TEGator Hoskins96015253
WRBrandon Wimberly86021207
TEAustin Seferian-Jenkins86054262
WRJosh Huff85112206
WRJosh Harper86004184
WRDevante Davis86021210
WRShane Wynn75064170
WREric Thomas76004216
WRTommy Shuler75071190
WRDeontay Greenberry76021198
WRDorial Green-Beckham76052225
WRKelvin Benjamin76050240
WRJordan Williams66012216
WRBrandon Swindall66031198
WRDeVante Parker66021209
TENick O’Leary66026248
WRAlex Neutz66024214
WRMalcome Kennedy65115200
WRTJ Jones65115188
WRJustin Hardy65111186
WRJeremy Gallon65074185
TEC.J. Fiedorowicz66054265
TETed Bolser66054257
TEJace Amaro66053265

  • pittsburghjoe

    We clearly need to get Plaxico Burress more involved with the offense. I think we should take Pouncy’s money and lock Burress up until age 40 or so.

  • Johnny Loose

    This all seems obvious. Something to think about, the guys that are 6’2″ and over probably got considerably more opportunities to score in the red zone by default.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Fascinating. The Lions have Calvin plus Pettigrew and that 6’8″ other TE. It seems they never have much problems scoring. Forget about turnovers and defence for them. They certainly score.

    Now think about the Steelers. TE that are 6’7″ and 6’5″. Plus moye and one more big boy that they draft. Who will the opponents double. Ben throws it high where only these big boys have a chance. Hmmmmm.

  • cencalsteeler

    DaVante Adams in round 2.

  • Callentown

    It feels like the emphasis on attaining ‘big’ WR’s is causing some temporary vision problems when considering what makes a good WR in the first place.

    There are some WR’s that have better overall skill sets than some of the taller WR’s and are rated lower. A guy like Benjamin has a bit of a boom or bust feel to him. Sweed with his bad hands or Jimmy Graham? Probably somewhere in between.

    Prefer to take a WR/TE in rd two where there is still great value and players like AS-J, Robinson and Adams who have a better chance of being around and contributing regularly three years from now.

  • Callentown

    Or maybe a Troy Niklas.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    If they chose to go WR in the 2nd, I would prefer they take Jorday Matthews as I think he’s going to be a stud in the NFL>

  • Lewis

    Of course the best TD% comes from one of the shorter guys in the league, Wes Welker.

  • Weiss Chad


  • Weiss Chad

    I can’t help but feel bi polar when it comes to some of these guys.i think you could find a really good wr in second but do u go dt if tuitts there and this is if they go w dennard providing he is there.Im losing a lot of sleep over this and I can’t wait til it’s over. Bpa that’s how I go .imo unless they move to top five lol dennards bpa

  • moderatelysane

    Your bromance is taking over the site, Dave. I don’t disagree that Benjamin has potential. I don’t disagree that he will have significant red zone production. I do disagree that we should spend a first round pick on a guy who is most likely going to be 3rd on the depth chart this year, next year,….Wheaton is locked up for another four years if he’s any good. AB will be locked up for a long time. Just not worth it unless he looks so dominant that he can be a number 1 (Mike Evans).

  • moderatelysane

    Okay. There’s my receiver bromance. Definitely worth a 2nd round pick. Definitely think he’s going to be a stud. Clone of Boldin.

  • moderatelysane

    If we got Dennard at 1.15 and Tuitt is available at 2.15, Tomlin should sprain a nut getting to the podium. Get the receiver when you can. Those two could improve our d very quickly.

  • falconsaftey43

    I personally see Matthews and Moncrief struggling a lot as pros. I know that’s not going to be a popular opinion on here haha. I’d prefer Adams or Robinson in the 2nd (Beckham or Cooks would be awesome, but doubt they are there)

  • steelster

    The clone of boldin is Jarvis landry.

  • Brendon Glad

    It’s a great article. Playing big is way easier to do if you ARE big. Hines Ward was a rarity…a small guy playing huge in the red-zone. Often we see “big guys playing small” in the red-zone….it’s truly a special treasured gift. Personally, I’d like to see us give Plaxico one more chance to see if his body can hold up….we will know before the end of camp whether it will most likely. I think moye is a guy I like…and I hope he progresses this offseason. If moye progresses as I hope, then Buressess is unneeded. But the young tall “attacker of the ball” is needed in the draft…whether moye and Burress both look like Brandon marshall in pre-season. It just needs to be done. We’ve been running out little guys who have not capitalized on Ben’s improved 9 and fade-route throwing for awhile now. And that needs to change.

  • shawn

    Plax nor Moye is the answer for our RZ woes …. we need to draft em and quick !

  • shawn

    not a bad pick at all !

  • shawn

    They are both very good … i slightly favor Matthews as well

  • shawn

    Moncrief maybe … but no way will Matthews struggle … but I have to say I’m almost certain Robinson will struggle i see him as a smaller poorer version of Evans who I’m also pessimistic about !

  • shawn

    if we picked him up …. he would be displayed prominently in the offense from the get go … prob double digit TDs or close from the 1st season on … so i have to disagree with you and state that he would probably be the most impactful player taken by us in the draft … a lot more than say a Gilbert or Dennard who would likely spend the 1st yr learning the system and playing in packages only !

  • falconsaftey43

    That’s what makes this fun, just have to wait and see which of these kids turn into starts and which flame out.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    In that case i would go dennard first tuitt second and wr third rd because of the depth at that position in the draft

  • shawn

    very true !

  • RW

    Problem with three years from now is you have a QB that might be past his prime.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    What we really need is to be able to run the damn ball inside the red zone. Any defense that constantly shuts down the run in the red zone and short yardage situations can also cover the pass better in the same area.

  • stellarsfan

    Cody Latimer from Indiana is an interesting prospect. 6’3, great ball skills and apparently ran 4.38 at his pro day. If we don’t go Allen Robinson/Jordan Matthews/Beckham in round 2, I think Latimer would be a good option for our 3rd round comp pick

  • steelster

    I agree.

  • Weiss Chad

    I couldn’t agree more

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I have been thinking this way all along, as it is usually the way the Steelers behave. The only problem is that they usually wait until about the 2nd to 4th round to start drafting CB as well. Bloody confusing and fascinating.