Pro Football Focus, an advanced NFL stat site you can subscribe to, prides itself on providing the "premium" stats that a box score won't show you. It isn't officially recognized by the NFL, but it is useful for the real football nerds out there, grading players for things like blocking, converting downs, and drawing penalties. For example, a guy like Wes Welker doesn't get a lot of yards, but he converts 3rd downs and blocks in the running game AND scores touchdowns. So he would be a more valuable player than a big play guy like Calvin Johnson. On paper at least.
So in light of all that, we happen to have the highest-rated wide receiver in the National Football League right now according to PFF, and his name is Antonio Brown.
So far, Antonio Brown has 41 catches in 5 games which is on pace for 130 through 16 games. Wow. That, my friends, would put him in 2nd place all-time for most receptions in a single season. Currently the record is held by former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison, who had 143 catches in 2002. Second place is former Lion Herman Moore, who had 123 catches in 1995.
Ed Bouchette took a look at this surprising yet awesome ranking for Brown this morning:
PFF ranks him as the best performer at wide receiver in the NFL through six weeks, which in the Steelers case is five games. Brown comes in with a rating of 14.0 overall, which accounts for all kinds of stats, including blocking. Not only is that best in the league, according to PFF, so is his 12.8 rating purely as a receiver. He is the only receiver in the league in double-digits. Second is Jordy Nelson at 8.7.
PFF did not blame Brown solely for the missed catch in the end zone. They called it part drop, part breakup. Also, Brown drew a 25-yard pass interference penalty on Antonio Cromarite in the third quarter that put the Steelers at the Jets 37 and helped lead to a field goal and 19-6 lead.
So there you go. All of that stuff, working his tail off blocking, drawing fouls and catching footballs makes Brown the best receiver in football right now. Check out the article linked above for more advanced looks at Big Ben and the offensive line.
Back to Brown. His numbers have been great, and this is just the start of him getting noticed. If he keeps it going, he'll make the Pro Bowl. As the new generation of Steelers starts to take shape, Brown is already setting himself apart as a great player on this team. Let's hope he stays healthy and continues to deliver. Go Steelers.