Categorized | Article

A QB-Neutral Look At Darrius Heyward-Bey’s History Of Drops


The Pittsburgh Steelers made it official yesterday by signing former Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey in a move surely aimed toward replenishing the depth and patching holes caused by free agency departures ahead of the draft in May.

The contract was a one-year deal, most certainly for the veteran-minimum value for a vested veteran of his tenure, though I’m not certain if there was a small signing bonus attached to the deal.

Clearly, he’s come a long way—in the wrong direction—even since last offseason, when the Colts gave him a $3 million contract with $1.5 million guaranteed. He was virtually benched by the end of the season.

Still, the Steelers’ move offers little risk—close to none financially—and the potential rewards are certainly greater than the potential harm, the key word being potential.

That doesn’t make the signing any more inspiring, however, and there’s no telling that he even beats out Justin Brown or Derek Moye for a roster spot when all is said and done this summer.

As we have previously shown, he had trouble even holding on to the ball this past season, but what should be emphasized is that last year was by no means an anomaly—or even an extreme outlier.

Heyward-Bey is a five-year veteran, yet the inability to hold on to passes has been a consistent theme throughout his career. In only one of his five professional seasons did he have a drop rate of less than 10 percent. Three out of the five years had a drop rate of greater than 20 percent, including last season, as seen in the chart below.

Year Targets Catchable Receptions Com. % Target % % Dif. Drops Drop %
2013 58 38 29 50 65.52 15.52 9 23.68
2012 77 47 41 53.2 61.04 7.84 6 12.77
2011 106 70 64 60.4 66.04 5.64 6 8.57
2010 60 33 26 43.3 55 11.7 7 21.21
2009 38 14 9 23.7 36.84 13.14 5 35.71
Total 339 202 169 49.85 59.59 9.73 33 16.34

 

The chart also contains a lot of other relevant information that helps account for the quarterback targeting him, which, playing most of his career for the Raiders, has not always been advantageous.

Among those details is the fact the career differential between his completion percentage and his target accuracy is nearly 10 percent. Target accuracy is the percentage of passes thrown his way that were on target and should have been caught, which is reached by combining receptions and drops.

Last season reflected the greatest differential in his career between completion percentage and target accuracy with a discrepancy of greater than 15 percent. His quarterback last season was Pro Bowl Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

By far his best season came in 2011, when the bulk of his targets were thrown by Carson Palmer, and to a lesser extent, Jason Campbell.

He recorded by far his highest completion percentage for a season on the back of the highest target accuracy, but more telling was that it was the season reflecting the smallest differential. That year, he caught 64 passes on 106 targets with six drops, for a career-low drop rate of 8.57.

For his career, however, he has dropped 33 of 202 total catchable balls, which translates to a career drop percentage of 16.34.

In layman’s terms, he has dropped about one in every six passes that he should have caught. This is not an outlier. This reflects who he has been as a player throughout his career, and there’s no easy fix.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About Matthew Marczi

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

    If he doesn’t catch the passes in camp and preseason, he wont make the Team.. on the other hand if he does but ultimately starts dropping passes in the regular season, he wont see much playing time.. his future is in his hands, literally

  • Jason

    Hell in Haley’s offense if the guy can catch 2 or 3 bubble screens a game he could be dangerous. You gotta love our fan base. We sign a guy, presumably for the vet minimum, who will at best be our #4 to start the year maybe #5 and we complain beacuse of his drop rate. I’m not speaking of you in particular just an observation. Over 200 comments in the article posted where we signed him. Gotta love it.

  • SumnerYoung

    Hey Matthew, do you believe the signing of Lance Moore and DHB is an indication that the front office and/or coaching staff do not like Moye and J. Brown as receiving options? I guess it seems pretty obvious. I never liked the Justin Brown pick as I don’t think he has NFL potential. Moye has some potential, but he’s physically weak (I’d like to see him with 10 more pounds of muscle) and he doesn’t seem to have much chemistry with Ben. Thank God they hit on AB in the sixth round. He’s proving to be a fantastic player.

  • JAMESH

    nyuk nyuk nyuk

  • JAMESH

    You take 90 players to camp.

  • Jason

    Not trying to jump on you but it’s hard to build chemistry when you never dress for games.

  • SumnerYoung

    Definitely. More players at a certain position = more competition. Right now we have 6 WR under contract. Throw in a 2014 draft pick and possibly an undrafted rookie FA, and you’ll be looking at 8 guys competing for the top 4 WR roster spots. I mean, AB is a shoe-in to be # 1, but is Markus Wheaton really a shoe-in to be the #2??? Make him earn it.

  • SumnerYoung

    A valid point, Jason. Practice is probably the best place to build chemistry but the QB must be willing to work extra time too. Not a slam on Ben, but does he really wanna work extra with a guy bouncing back and forth between the practice squad and 53 man? Doubtful. The first live, in-game pass he threw to Moye was a Redzone TD though. Like I said, Moye does have some potential, hard to ever see him as a #1 or #2 though. Hit the weight room Moye! 10 more pounds of muscle!! Take Jarvis with you.

  • Chad H

    Wow, I guess I would have not signed him with those stats. Maybe they will use him as an example of what not to be.

  • Aric Brown

    Wheaton is the furthest thing from a shoe in… we’ve yet toeven really see him play

  • SumnerYoung

    I agree, but it seems a lot of people are anointing him already as the # 2 and the rightful heir to Manny Sanders. I hope he proves that he’s better than Sanders, but that’s the thing, he still has to prove it.

  • PA2AK

    Are you excited about his drop rate? Seeing it as a good, low risk move is one thing. Ignoring what is, is another. I like the signing. His hands are bad.

  • Jason

    No bud I’m not “excited” about his drop rate I was just commenting on the many fans who are ready to fire Colbert over signing a guy for the vet minimum with decent upside but inconsitent hands.

  • PA2AK

    I don’t think anyone is sold on Moye or J Brown. They’ll have some serious competition. Wheaton isn’t a lock at #2, but it does seem likely and I think they view it the same way. They know what they had in him in spite of him missing some critical time in the beginning due to school regs. He’ll have to earn it for sure, but look what AB did from his rookie to second year…not out of the question. They are smart to have vet depth behind him though as he’s no guarantee. The DHB signing doesn’t seem to mean much more than a minimal risk signing for competition to me…doesn’t say much about their feelings on any player.

  • PA2AK

    Ok bud. Didn’t really get that kind of feeling from the comments yesterday except from a couple that seemed to think he was signed to be a 2-3. Still think everyone and their mother has every reason to complain about those drops. They might call him Ike in camp.

  • PA2AK

    I think there have been several reports of them all working out together this offseason. Let’s hope it pays off.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I think wheaton is going to be real good i mean give the guy a break he missed most of training camp due to school but was learning the play book over the phone which is like taking classes online now he had the time to train with ben and a full offseason to develop chemistry the reason why he didn’t see the field as much was because cotch had a good yr

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    My only issue with wheaton is his fingers breaking twice already

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Lol wide out position for dummies

  • Jason

    Anyone can complain about anything they want and yes I saw plenty complaining about the signing in general. I’m not applauding the fact that he drops a lot of balls I’m simply saying for what he is gonna be paid if we cut him after his first drop in camp who’s really gonna care one way or the other. If we take a WR high which most expect this guy is likely behind AB,Wheaton, Moore and the draft pick so I’d rather complain that we have no defensive line to speak of instead of about a wr who may not even make the team and makes less money than I do. However, as you said,people have reason to complain about the drops. Good day, Go Steelers.

  • Jason

    Also if his hands are so bad they call him Ike then I take back everything I said. Lol

  • srdan

    I think he was signed to see where he fits in.
    A receiver with his measurables (with good hands) is a possible number one. Definetly a strong two. A receiver with his measurables and terrible hands plays in teh CFL. It’s competely in his hands like steeltown said. No risk to the steelers.

  • srdan

    You should trust the FO a little more. They are far from dummies and see this guy practice, eat and sleep most of the year. Yes, you and I have not seen him. But teh FO let two experiened receivers walk and made no play to sign a sure starter. That in itself should tell you that 11 is as close to a shoe in as it gets.

  • steelersfan

    Does anyone know how this compares to Mike Wallace’s stats? Obviously Wallace is a better receiver and not a chronic dropper of the ball as Heyward-Bey, but I always had the impression that he was also a fast player with mediocre hands. I’m just hoping that maybe this signing can provide us with something…not that we need more speed from our wide receivers.

  • Callentown

    I just don’t get it. This signing, as well as McCain are worrisome.

    Has it come to this? Scraping the very bottom of the barrel to fill roster spots? Plenty of camp bodies around in June.

    What gives here??

  • Callentown

    I hear ya Reg. But seriously, have you ever heard of a player who couldn’t make it because he kept having finger problems? He’s gonna be fine..

  • Rosco

    He needs to catch this oppurtunity and run with it!! Im rooting for him!!

  • Matt Manzo

    I wouldn’t say it’s worrisome. These last 2 signings are depth and “let’s see what happens” signings. We do that every year at this time.
    I was excited about DHB cuz of his size and speed but the consistency of drops is crazy. He won’t take up a roster spot if he keeps that up.

  • steeltown

    Whats worrisome about signing a couple vet minimum players? Why not bring in some camp bodies that actually have starting experience and may actually have some upside, instead of just being camp bodies. Its no different than any other year in regards to building an offseason roster

  • CrazyTerry

    The 4th or 5th WR has to have good hands because he gets so few touches. If he drops the few he gets, that’s trouble.

  • CrazyTerry

    I still do not understand how this guy was taken #7. Did this guy not have drops in college? With Sweed, the drops were clearly more psychological. What is the word on Bey? Was he reliable in college?

  • Callentown

    Because in these two cases, these are both players that are known commodities. Known in that they seem unable to succeed from being the worst at what they do in some way.

    So, why bring that onto a team that’s building back up? I can’t think of a reason.

  • steeltown

    They’re just two more players on a roster of 90men, maybe they don’t even make the final 53 like the majority of the other guys we will bring in, or maybe they show something and they do. It’s nothing I would allow to cause any anxiety or concern.

  • PA2AK

    I see what you mean now. The drops are really the only thing to complain about in the whole deal…certainly not a reason to ask for anyone’s head in the decision process to sign the guy. For the record…I really hope they don’t end up calling him Ike and hope he surprises us.

  • treeher

    I don’t care how cheap he is. IF he makes the team he will most certainly make a crucial drop at some point and fans will be calling for somebody’s head. Personally, I think the only real positive is that he seems to be a team oriented player and at least that fits the Steeler mold.

  • PA2AK

    Crucial drops were my biggest complaint about Sanders too…and he wasn’t nearly as bad as DHB’s track record

  • srdan

    I’ll go on a limb here and say that AB will make a crucial drop next year. As will Calvin Johnson, Larry fitz and probably even Julio Jones.

  • 2443scott

    dont know if he will make the team but what if the draft dont fall the way steelers want it too and going into a season with a experienced wr is better then a undrafted wr let training camp and preseason happen and the signed free agents will either show up or the roster will begin to show up who stays who goes …then see where he falls in …the cap space is a sure killer so some times biteing your lower lip is all you can do ..as of now hes a added body with exp- under his belt

  • PA2AK

    lol…you’re right, but I think you’re twisting what he meant just a liiiiiittle bit.

  • srdan

    You noticed that? lol

  • srdan

    Good point. But also if your fourth or fifth possesses an asset other receivers dont and you install a play or two in teh playbook for them. Like a bubble or a run of some sort. I fully expect DHB to get 1-3 end around runs in the preseason and most of them will be with the number ones.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I don’t believe either signing has much to do with Brown or Moye. Roethlisberger has been working with them during the offseason, and from what I understand, the organization has not been displeased with Brown’s development over the year. But as of now they’re certainly unknown quantities, so they can’t operate as though they’re locks. I wouldn’t write them off.

  • PA2AK

    My friends call me ‘Lightning’.

  • srdan

    When you flick the switch, you’re in bed before the light turns off? Lol

  • Eric MacLaurin

    The bad news is that his hands are really small.

    The good news is they are the same size as mike Wallace’s hands.

    I like that he had a good season with Carson palmer and the fact that he struggled with the other raider QB’s and didn’t click instantly with Luck isn’t enough for me to write him off.

  • Callentown

    Feels like something’s not right with these moves. Why sign them now? Plus, we had players just like these two but better in C. Brown and E. Sanders and let them go.

    Financial is larger with Sanders, but IMO the biggest reason he was let go is the drops, not his price tag.

    C. Brown was a special teams player, just like Mccain would be. If those players were let go for not being what the team wanted, why waste time with the same sort at a lower caliber? See what I’m saying.

  • Steven Vincent

    I see him being used in things like wide receiver end arounds where the ball is pitched or even handed off to him. Then he can use that speed to advantage. Or the WR bubble screen (a play I hate).

  • dkoy85

    Yep. Go to camp and watch Wheaton this year. The kid is very good. Always open. I think he can replace Sanders production and possibly have a second year like Browns 2nd year… especially with a whole offseason of training. I do think he needs to get stronger and think he will. Hes also too fast/quick for Ben right now so they need to gel. But if they do we’ll have the fastest and most explosive receiver core in the NFL.

  • SumnerYoung

    There are a lot of unknowns currently in this receiving corps. Doesn’t it seem like yesterday that the talk around the league was the Steelers had one of the best up and coming young receiving corps? Wallace, AB, and Sanders!! Damn, things sure change fast in the NFL. But I do like what the FO is doing by signing some free agents because I believe wholeheartedly in competition. Pro athletes have been competing their entire lives to make it to the top tier. They have great talent to get to the NFL level, but it takes a great competitor to get to that level and stay there. Why should that stop once they make it to the NFL? It shouldn’t. The more good players in camp at uncertain positions, the better.

  • shawn

    i think he has all the tools to be a star … only thing he needs now is reps and CONFIDENCE !

  • shawn

    I’m on board with ur line of reasoning … it is easy to get the feeling that something just aint right … but lets hope that all is rectified after an AMAZING Draft !

  • richard

    He was considered by most to be a 3rd ir 4th rounder, but Al Davis always loved speed so he was drafted wat to early. This is a signing that has little risk, he will be given a chance to make the team, if he doesn’t there is really nothing lost. I am kinda pulling for him, it would make a for a good story if Pittsburgh could get him straighten out.

  • AzheDraven

    I have always thought that Wallace is a mediocre player, that drops some easy balls and has a me-first attitude. I mean, I watched him a lot of times just give up on the ball. I think one of them was on a NYJ vs Mia game and he just gave up on the jump ball so Antonio Cromarie got an easy INT. I mean, at least throw the ball away, lololol.
    If DHB is more of a team player willing to play ST, and doesnt give up like that I already like him more than Wallace, lol.

  • Callentown

    Amen brother! I have high hopes.

  • Callentown

    I know Gilbert is a long-shot to be on the board, but I think with the stud WR’s in our division, we need the most athletic CB we can add. Still be happy with Denard. Hoping to add maybe Purifoy later to get two new CB’s.

  • steeltown

    I don’t see McCain making the roster when its all said and done

  • shawn

    definitely want some new CB blood … not high on purifoy at all .. i can’t remember what i saw at the combine but dont want nothing to do with him now … intrigued about the guy from Rice and the small school guy !

  • shawn

    i would be surprised too … i dont think he is any better than brown !

If you enjoy our content & podcast, feel free to buy us a cup of coffee below.
Shop for 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Nike and New Era Team Gear at Fanatics

Archives