Noting that the Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski connection is now defunct (and the Aaron Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson connection is long gone), a new article from football analytics web site Pro Football Focus has identified the NFL’s best remaining quarterback-to-receiver tandems.
One of them belongs to the Kansas City Chiefs — but neither Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill is a part of it.
PFF writer Ben Cooper looked at the passer rating of active NFL quarterback and receiver duos with at least 50 targets over the last three seasons and listed the 10 with the highest passer rating.
Three of the top six featured Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philips Rivers (with Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams). With Henry, Rivers topped the league at 143.7. With Ekeler, Rivers compiled a rating of 128.8 that was good for third. Throwing to Williams, Rivers was sixth with 125.8.
Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller of the Houston Texans were second at 138.2. Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks were fourth with a rating of 127.5, while Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams were fifth at 127.0.
Patrick Mahomes and Sammy Watkins were ninth at 124.8. Said Cooper of the Chiefs duo:
With just three touchdowns combined last year, Sammy Watkins and Patrick Mahomes have a long way to go before truly becoming an elite tandem. However, the two were so wildly efficient, with 40 of the 53 targets being completed, that they find themselves at No. 9. Watkins has the talent as a former top-five pick and Mahomes showcased his MVP skills in 2018 with a 92.9 overall grade (2nd).
Among the 10 duos listed, Watkins’ catch percentage from Mahomes (75.5%) was second only to Ekeler’s from Rivers (84.6%). Along with Mahomes and Watkins, Rivers and Ekeler were the only other tandem that didn’t give up an interception during their plays together.
With all the talk being generated by national analysts about whether the Chiefs offense will suffer if Hill ends up missing some part of the 2019 season, it’s good to note that when Watkins is on the field, he and Mahomes have shown themselves to be among the most deadly duos in the league. This information underlines that whether or not Hill is available for every game, Watkins’ ability (or inability) to stay healthy will be an important factor in the coming season.