Published: Jan. 25, 2019 at 02:59 p.m.
Updated: Jan. 25, 2019 at 04:31 p.m.

Next Gen Stats: Hidden figures ahead of the 2019 Pro Bowl

Want to see the numbers behind the numbers? Nick Shook dives into a fresh batch of Next Gen Stats and identifies figures that add some context to the 2019 Pro Bowl.

7 Photos Total

  • Tyreek Hill, known as <a href="https://twitter.com/cheetah" target="new">@cheetah</a>, blazed across your television screens for the majority of 2018. In fact, he's so fast, he should get a check from TV manufacturers who are advertising refresh rates that eliminate "motion blur." He's a blur in real life, too. Hill reached a max speed as a ball carrier of 21.95 mph this season, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL, and no one was consistently faster: Hill reached 20-plus mph a whopping 16 times, eight more than any other player. Now <i>that's</i> fast. 7

    Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

    1. Your eyes didn't lie

    Tyreek Hill, known as @cheetah, blazed across your television screens for the majority of 2018. In fact, he's so fast, he should get a check from TV manufacturers who are advertising refresh rates that eliminate "motion blur." He's a blur in real life, too. Hill reached a max speed as a ball carrier of 21.95 mph this season, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL, and no one was consistently faster: Hill reached 20-plus mph a whopping 16 times, eight more than any other player. Now that's fast.

  • We know Von Miller is good, but perhaps we should take a second look at the numbers to understand just <i>how</i> good he is. Miller leads the NFL in QB pressures since 2016 with 169, and it doesn't stop there. Miller also owns the highest pressure rate in the NFL since 2016 at 14.5 percent (minimum 500 pass-rush snaps), and his 3.3 percent sack rate this season was the second-highest rate among edge defenders. Next Gen Stats is still in its relative infancy, but Miller is an early NGS superstar. 6

    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    2. Miller machine

    We know Von Miller is good, but perhaps we should take a second look at the numbers to understand just how good he is. Miller leads the NFL in QB pressures since 2016 with 169, and it doesn't stop there. Miller also owns the highest pressure rate in the NFL since 2016 at 14.5 percent (minimum 500 pass-rush snaps), and his 3.3 percent sack rate this season was the second-highest rate among edge defenders. Next Gen Stats is still in its relative infancy, but Miller is an early NGS superstar.

  • Andrew Luck's return helped ignite a massive turnaround for a woebegone Indy team that desperately needed to figure out how to protect its franchise QB. The Colts did that by spending their first two picks on offensive linemen, and then watched the creation blossom. Luck was effective in all departments, tossing 14 touchdowns on intermediate throws (10-19 yards), the most in the NFL, and nine touchdowns on tight-window throws this season, which tied for most in the NFL. He made a lot of his magic by looking to his slot receiver on 39.9 percent of pass attempts, the highest rate among qualified QBs, and ended up in the Pro Bowl. Not bad for your first season back in action. 5

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    3. Amazing Andrew

    Andrew Luck's return helped ignite a massive turnaround for a woebegone Indy team that desperately needed to figure out how to protect its franchise QB. The Colts did that by spending their first two picks on offensive linemen, and then watched the creation blossom. Luck was effective in all departments, tossing 14 touchdowns on intermediate throws (10-19 yards), the most in the NFL, and nine touchdowns on tight-window throws this season, which tied for most in the NFL. He made a lot of his magic by looking to his slot receiver on 39.9 percent of pass attempts, the highest rate among qualified QBs, and ended up in the Pro Bowl. Not bad for your first season back in action.

  • We've spent years singing praise for Rob Gronkowski, and while he'll someday don a gold jacket, we saw special things from two <i>other</i> tight ends who enjoyed full-blown breakout seasons: Indianapolis' Eric Ebron and San Francisco's George Kittle. Here are two numbers to show just how well they played: Ebron was the only player in the NFL with at least three receiving touchdowns from wide, slot and tight alignments (seven slot, three tight, three wide). Kittle, meanwhile, roamed open pastures for much of the season, leading the NFL in yards after catch with 900. 4

    Associated Press

    4. Tight end revolution

    We've spent years singing praise for Rob Gronkowski, and while he'll someday don a gold jacket, we saw special things from two other tight ends who enjoyed full-blown breakout seasons: Indianapolis' Eric Ebron and San Francisco's George Kittle. Here are two numbers to show just how well they played: Ebron was the only player in the NFL with at least three receiving touchdowns from wide, slot and tight alignments (seven slot, three tight, three wide). Kittle, meanwhile, roamed open pastures for much of the season, leading the NFL in yards after catch with 900.

  • Russell Wilson is really good. We'll just list these numbers, for the sake of space. Wilson posted the best passer rating on tight-window throws (103.4), best completion percentage on deep attempts (49.2 percent), best positive difference in expected and actual completion percentage (plus-14.5 percent), and was one of two QBs to play 100 percent of his team's offensive snaps this season (Minnesota's Kirk Cousins was the other). Wilson also tied Patrick Mahomes for the most passing touchdowns on deep attempts with 13 and did so while throwing a smaller percentage of deep passes than Mahomes (Wilson finished third). Anyone winded after reading that? 3

    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    5. Wilson's World

    Russell Wilson is really good. We'll just list these numbers, for the sake of space. Wilson posted the best passer rating on tight-window throws (103.4), best completion percentage on deep attempts (49.2 percent), best positive difference in expected and actual completion percentage (plus-14.5 percent), and was one of two QBs to play 100 percent of his team's offensive snaps this season (Minnesota's Kirk Cousins was the other). Wilson also tied Patrick Mahomes for the most passing touchdowns on deep attempts with 13 and did so while throwing a smaller percentage of deep passes than Mahomes (Wilson finished third). Anyone winded after reading that?

  • Four Pro Bowl running backs overcame odds stacked against them consistently in 2018. Pittsburgh's James Conner led the NFL in rushing touchdowns when facing stacked boxes (seven). Melvin Gordon had the highest average yards per carry when facing stacked boxes (5.9), and Lamar Miller was second behind Gordon with an average of 5.6 yards per carry. And then there's Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing yards (1,434) despite facing a stacked box on 24.7 percent of rushes. The most impressive number from this set of circumstances? Elliott racked up 10 or more yards per carry on 41 of his rushing attempts this season, despite taking nearly a quarter of his season total against stacked boxes. 2

    Associated Press

    6. Against all odds

    Four Pro Bowl running backs overcame odds stacked against them consistently in 2018. Pittsburgh's James Conner led the NFL in rushing touchdowns when facing stacked boxes (seven). Melvin Gordon had the highest average yards per carry when facing stacked boxes (5.9), and Lamar Miller was second behind Gordon with an average of 5.6 yards per carry. And then there's Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing yards (1,434) despite facing a stacked box on 24.7 percent of rushes. The most impressive number from this set of circumstances? Elliott racked up 10 or more yards per carry on 41 of his rushing attempts this season, despite taking nearly a quarter of his season total against stacked boxes.

  • Cleveland has nailed its last two No. 1 draft picks (Myles Garrett, Baker Mayfield), but another first-rounder is flourishing, as well: Denzel Ward. The rookie corner adjusted well to the pro game, and although his tackling style left him susceptible to injuries, he excelled in physical situations. Ward allowed the lowest catch percentage in the NFL when in press coverage (25.9 percent, minimum 25 targets). For a cornerback whose biggest knock ahead of the draft was his size, that's impressive and more important than one might think. Garrett, meanwhile, continues to get better, finishing second in QB pressures among edge defenders (66) and playing more snaps (963) than any other edge defender in the NFL. 1

    Associated Press/USA TODAY Sports

    7. Bright future for Browns

    Cleveland has nailed its last two No. 1 draft picks (Myles Garrett, Baker Mayfield), but another first-rounder is flourishing, as well: Denzel Ward. The rookie corner adjusted well to the pro game, and although his tackling style left him susceptible to injuries, he excelled in physical situations. Ward allowed the lowest catch percentage in the NFL when in press coverage (25.9 percent, minimum 25 targets). For a cornerback whose biggest knock ahead of the draft was his size, that's impressive and more important than one might think. Garrett, meanwhile, continues to get better, finishing second in QB pressures among edge defenders (66) and playing more snaps (963) than any other edge defender in the NFL.