Should Rueben Randle Be a Concern for the Giants?
At the NFL combine, Giants General Manager Jerry Reese said that the â€œjury is still outâ€ on Rueben Randle, a second-round selection from the 2012 NFL Draft. With Hakeem Nicks now in Indianapolis, that wasnâ€™t an easy thing for New York Giants fans to hear.
The G-Men then selected Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round of last weekâ€™s NFL Draft, which, in a way, solidified Reeseâ€™s comments. Instead of this simple idea of Rueben Randle lacking progression through two years in the league, the Giants actually showed action â€“ itâ€™s a very real concern.
Weâ€™ve covered Beckham already, noting that his first-year comparables show that he may be able to make a pretty decent rookie impact given his current situation in New York. And if the red flags continue into Randleâ€™s third year, Beckham may play an even larger role than initially anticipated.
But is there merit to this notion that Randle isnâ€™t progressing as a wide receiver? Should the Giants legitimately be concerned? Well, according to our analytics, it looks like the Giants upper management has reason to worry.
Itâ€™s no secret that New York's offense was all over the place last year. The offensive line wasnâ€™t cohesive, the running game was filled with geriatric plodders, and Eli Manning put together one of the worst seasons of his career. It wasnâ€™t just one guyâ€™s fault â€“ it was everyoneâ€™s fault.
As a result, according to our Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, the Giants finished with the 31st-ranked offense in 2013. Only Jacksonville â€“ a team led by Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne â€“ was worse. Again, it wasnâ€™t just the passing game, and it also wasnâ€™t simply a poor rushing attack â€“ both aspects of the offense actually ranked 31st in the league last year.
The Giants had four primary wide receivers last season, ranging from Jerrel Jerniganâ€™s 29 receptions all the way to number one receiver Victor Cruzâ€™s 73. Naturally, Cruz was the best receiver in terms of Reception NEP, as this measures the number of points added by a receiver on catches only. He had the most catches, so heâ€™s going to â€“ more than likely â€“ have the highest score.
Cruzâ€™s 76.23 Reception NEP total ranked 29th in the NFL. Considering there are 32 teams and a handful of them are either run-heavy or are led by really bad quarterbacks, that ranking isnâ€™t very inspiring. Hakeem Nicks, now on the Colts, finished 46th within the metric, while Rueben Randle wasnâ€™t far behind, finishing 49th.
But again, weâ€™re only looking at how a player contributed when he caught the ball. The question we should be asking â€“ the statistic that may be more telling â€“ is, â€œWhat happened when one of the Giants wide receivers didnâ€™t catch the ball?â€
At numberFire, we also use a metric called Target Net Expected Points, which looks at the number of expected points added, in sum, when a player is targeted. And of the four main wide receivers for the Giants last year, Rueben Randle ranked last in Target NEP. Take a look at the chart below for more detail.
|Name||Rec. NEP||Target NEP||Difference|
The â€œdifferenceâ€ column on the right is simply Target NEP minus Reception NEP. Why is this important? Well, it shows you what happened when a player didnâ€™t catch the football â€“ it gives you an idea of the points missed out on when a particular receiver was targeted, but said player didnâ€™t catch the pigskin.
My concern isnâ€™t only that Rueben Randle had the worst Target NEP and difference between the two metrics, but that this happened as the number three receiver on the Giants last year. You would expect someone like Victor Cruz to be force fed the ball in desperate times, which can often lead to bad throws (interceptions) and poor Net Expected Points gains. But not for a player who was only targeted 78 times last year.
In fact, of the 41 wide receivers in 2013 with 60 to 100 targets, Rueben Randleâ€™s difference in Target NEP and Reception NEP was third largest. Only Greg Little and Jerome Simpson were worse. Anytime a wide receiver is listed in the same group as Greg Little and Jerome Simpson, you know somethingâ€™s wrong.
So, yes â€“ I think the Giantsâ€™ concerns are very valid. If Randle doesnâ€™t turn it up a notch this year, he could see his time limited after having so much potential coming out of the draft.