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Thursday, December 9, 2010
Best, worst hands in the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas

I was just taking a look through the list of drops by receivers that ESPN Stats & Information updates each week. The NFC South started off the season pretty well in this category, but that’s starting to change a bit. We’ve got some NFC South receivers climbing up a not-so-positive list.

Although he’s having a stellar rookie season by just about every measure, there’s one area where Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams can improve. You can pretty much bet Williams will be spending a lot of time catching passes from the Jugs machine and quarterbacks in the offseason.

Williams is tied with Reggie Wayne for second place in the league with eight drops. Steve Johnson leads with nine. For the sake of comparison, Johnson has been targeted 103 times and has 61 catches. Williams has been targeted 97 times and has 51 receptions. Wayne has been targeted 143 times and has caught 90 passes.

A couple of very big names in the NFC South also are pretty high on the list. Carolina receiver Steve Smith and Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez each have six drops. Carolina rookie Brandon LaFell and New Orleans veteran Marques Colston each have five.

We won’t run through the list of individual guys with less than five drops because it’s too lengthy. However, let’s take a look at drops by team in the division. Carolina leads with 26 and that ranks fifth in the league.

The Saints have 22 drops, tied for 11th in the NFL. The Buccaneers have 20, tied for 14th.

Atlanta receivers have shown the best hands in the division. They’ve dropped 16 passes. Only five teams around the league have fewer drops. And let’s give quarterback Matt Ryan a little credit here, because his accuracy is probably a reason why his receivers aren’t dropping a lot of passes.

Now, let’s flip over to the anti-drop side and look at some positives. There are only four receivers in the league who have been targeted at least 25 times that don’t have a drop, and none are from the NFC South.

But New Orleans’ Lance Moore and Atlanta’s Roddy White are right behind the guys that have been perfect. Moore has only one drop and a 98.0 catch percentage. White has two drops and a 97.8 catch percentage. They’re the only two receivers from the division in the top 10 in catch percentage. Atlanta’s Michael Jenkins (96.3) is next at No. 18 in the league.