How much will Kelvin Benjamin help Bills' deep passing game? - The Buffalo News

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How much will Kelvin Benjamin help Bills' deep passing game?

The Bills acquired Kelvin Benjamin at the trade deadline for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons may not be so obvious — his impact on Buffalo's downfield passing attack.

They may have already gotten help in that area with Deonte Thompson, who has four receptions of 20 or more yards in three games, but how much downfield presence does Benjamin offer?

Let's take a look.

Here's how Benjamin stacks up to Sammy Watkins on passes made down the field.

(Pro Football Focus labels "deep targets" as throws made 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage.)

Kelvin Benjamin Catches Deep Targets Drops TDs Yards
2017 5 7 0 2 157
2016 5 15 0 2 167
2014 10 36 2 5 310
Totals 20 58 2 9 634

 

Sammy Watkins Catches Deep Targets Drops TDs Yards
2017 2 10 0 1 114
2016 4 11 0 4 173
2015 16 34 1 8 606
2014 9 31 0 2 310
Totals 31 86 1 15 1203

Watkins has averaged 38.8 yards per reception on these downfield targets thus far in his NFL career. Benjamin's average is 31.7. The yards-per-target averages are; Watkins 13.9 and Benjamin 10.9.

Benjamin's catch rate here is currently 34.4 percent. Watkins' is 36 percent.

Of Watkins' 86 targets 20 or more yards downfield, 17.6 percent of them have resulted in a touchdown. For Benjamin that average is 15.5 percent.

Watkins' drop rate on these throws is a minuscule 1.1 percent. Benjamin's is 3.4 percent.

So far in 2017, Benjamin has the NFL's highest downfield catch rate — 71.4 percent — of 59 qualifying wide receivers and is already 11 yards away from eclipsing the total yardage he amassed on deep targets in 2016 on essentially half the amount of targets.

Watkins has a rather low catch rate — 2o percent — but a huge yards-per-reception average of 57 this season.

Narrowing the sample to 2016 and 2017, the downfield usage and production of Benjamin and Watkins have been more comparable.

Catches Deep Targets Drops TDs Yards
Kelvin Benjamin 10 22 0 4 324
Sammy Watkins 6 22 0 5 287

Watkins certainly has earned the reputation as one of the league's most dangerous deep threats. His 47.8 yards-per-reception on downfield targets over the past year and a half dwarfs Benjamin's 32.4 yards-per-reception average on those throws.

However, despite being known as a possession receiver, Benjamin has proven he can use his size to his advantage to be an effective downfield receiver as a professional.

Heading into Week 10 against the Saints, Buffalo wideouts have combined to make seven receptions on 21 downfield targets.

Benjamin should make a positive impact on the Bills' deep passing game.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

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