Michigan Receivers Excel in Contested Situations
The Michigan Wolverines send their top three pass-catchers to the NFL draft this offseason: receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, and tight end Jake Butt.
None of their receivers have elite speed to stretch the field, but all three have excelled in the battle for 50/50 balls over the past two seasons.
Darboh has been the most consistent of the unit hauling in over 44 percent of his contested targets over the past two years.
In 2016, Chesson dropped off significantly, catching only four of his 16 contested targets. His two-year rate is buoyed by an impressive 12-for-25 mark in 2015 with Jake Ruddock as his quarterback.
Quarterback play definitely plays a minor role in this, as ball placement can help the receiver gain a slight advantage. But it shouldn’t result in such a substantial dropoff. After all, they’re called 50/50 balls for a reason—the receiver is locked in tight coverage and has to do most of the work to come down with the reception.
The fact that Darboh’s rate did not significantly fluctuate after the switch from Ruddock to Wilton Speight indicates that it was Chesson who took a step backwards this season.
Butt’s rate also remained consistent over the past two seasons, with the majority of his contested targets coming within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Based on this trait, Chesson could have a wide range of grades from NFL scouts. His 2015 performance was encouraging, but noticeably took a step backwards during his senior year.