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Chiefs by the Numbers: The Fleet-Footed Duo of Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins

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There’s no shortage of talent at wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs heading into the 2018 season, beginning with the dynamic talents of Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.

Hill is entering his third season as a professional after tallying the seventh-most receiving yards in the NFL last year, while Watkins is coming over from the Los Angeles Rams after hauling in eight touchdowns in 2017.

In this edition of Chiefs by the Numbers, we’ll take a deeper look at just how effective Hill and Watkins were last season – and what their first year together as teammates could look like.

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Hill was tasked with becoming more of a complete wide receiver in 2017 after a strong rookie campaign, and did he ever. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Hill was one of the top receivers in the NFL last season. Among all qualified receivers, Hill’s 130.5 “WR Rating” ranked behind only Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster for the top mark in the league.

Here’s more from PFF:

The bulk of Hill’s production and efficiency came on deep passes (balls traveling 20 or more yards in the air) last season, recording the fifth-most deep receiving yards (628) and the second-best WR Rating on deep targets (min. 20) of any wide receiver this past decade (138.9).

Watkins wasn’t far behind on the list, posting the fifth-best mark in the league (122.0).

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Speaking of Hill’s aptitude for the big play, his 15 catches of 25 or more yards were tied for third in the NFL. The 24-year-old Hill was joined by some impressive company on the list.

Table Extended
Player Team 25+ Yard Catches
DeAndre Hopkins Houston Texans 17
Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers 16
Tyreek Hill Kansas City Chiefs 15
Brandin Cooks New England Patriots 15
Marvin Jones Jr. Detroit Lions 15
Julio Jones Atlanta Falcons 15

Furthermore, all seven of Hill’s touchdowns last season came on plays of at least 30 yards, adding up to a ridiculous 58.3 yards per score. His 408 total yards on those touchdowns was far and away the most in the NFL, pacing 147 yards ahead of second-place.

It’s that ability that prompted NFL.com to name Hill as the top deep threat in the league. Here’s what analyst Matt Harmon had to say:

The former fifth-round pick thrived as the Chiefs' primary receiver and was particularly effective downfield, where he demonstrated the ability to win. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound wideout also tracked the ball in contested situations, catching seven of his 13 tight-window targets for 25.7 yards per reception.

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Watkins was the definition of reliable last season for the Los Angeles Rams, hauling in all 39 catchable passes thrown in his direction without a single drop.

The folks over at PFF provided some additional context:

Running slants and post routes, Watkins earned a 128.9 and 143.9 passer rating when targeted, respectively, both of which were at least 40.0 points above the league average.

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When facing off-man coverage, Hill and Watkins were the two most effective receivers in the NFL last season.

According to PFF, Watkins recorded a 139.7 WR Rating against off-man coverage in 2017 – the top mark in the NFL. PFF went on to further put Watkins’ performance into perspective:

What’s more impressive, is that 61.3 percent of those targets ended with either a first down or a touchdown, also the league’s best mark. Watkins was one of just two receivers to see at least 30 targets against off-man coverage without dropping a single pass.

Hill, meanwhile, checked in at No. 2 on the list with a 136.3 rating. He tallied 924 of his 1,183 receiving yards when facing off-man coverage in 2017.

Now on the same team – and joined by a number of other weapons on offense – the sky could be the limit for this immensely talented duo.

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