The NFL Networks’ top 100 list, as far as I can tell, is about the present and future fortunes of the players ranked. Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon was voted by his peers as the 80th-best player in the NFL. Wes Welker (No. 73) and Jordy Nelson (No. 83) are the only other wideouts who made the cut so far.
The league had 1,926 players suit up for at least one game last season, so Garcon being one of the 80 best is a good thing. Over the past few seasons, the NFL Network’s top 100 list had between 12 and 14 wide receivers among its ranks, so Garcon’s ranking right likely puts him in the top 10 to 12 wide receivers in the game. However, Garcon doesn’t think that’s good enough. Fans don’t either: more than 300 voted him “underrated.”
Garcon caught 133 passes (best in the league) for 1,346 yards (eighth best) and five touchdowns last season. Over the past three seasons, the 27-year-old has 227 catches for 2,926 yards and 15 touchdowns. So should he be higher on the list?
According to Pro-Football Reference’s Approximate Value — an attempt to attach a single number to every player-season since 1950 — Garcon’s three-year performance would rank 22nd among wide receivers. By comparison, Nelson would rank sixth and Welker second, suggesting both are more underrated than Garcon in terms of their place on the NFL Network’s top 100.
Turning our attention to last season, Washington quarterbacks had a 78.9 passer rating Rating when throwing to Garcon, 32nd out of 43 for receivers targeted at least 50 percent of the time. That bumps up to 12th out of 16 if we look at receivers targeted 75 percent of the time.
In 2012, his quarterbacks’ rating was 116.7 (limited to 10 games) and in 2011 it was 87.1 (22 out of 45 receivers targeted at least 50 percent of the time).
Garcon caught six of the eight passes that were thrown 20 or more yards in 2013, 21st best among receivers, and the year before that he was 3 for 8. In 2013, he was the eighth-best receiver in the slot — catching 22 of 29 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown — and 12th best in yards per route run (2.2).
Based on his performance over the past few seasons, even taking last year’s terrific campaign into account, Garcon is, at best, toward the bottom of the top 15 wide receivers list.