In case you are frequently spending time in comment sections or on the multitude of social mediae out there you may have come across the argument that New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is dropping too many passes this season. It usually goes something like this: Edelman is leading the league in drops! His drop percentage is the worst of his career! He’s not doing Tom Brady any favors!
Here is something to add to the discourse: the “Edelman is dropping more passes this season” narrative is a myth — and a quick look at the numbers shows it. Coming off a torn ACL and a four-game suspension, the veteran wide receiver has appeared in 12 of the Patriots’ 16 regular season games and was the target on 108 pass attempts, 74 of which were completed for a combined 850 yards and six touchdowns.
Now, not all of the 34 incompletions were drops. Some passes were either badly placed or just throwaways in his general direction. All in all, Tom Brady threw directly to Edelman 82 times which means that eight of the pass attempts were incomplete because of the intended recipient and thus counted as drops. This leaves the 32-year old with a drop rate on catchable passes of 9.8%.
So how does it compare to the rest of his career? Pretty favorably, actually: since becoming a starter and Tom Brady’s go-to wide receiver in 2013, Edelman has never dropped fewer passes per catchable target:
*Edelman missed all of 2017 with the aforementioned ACL injury
No matter how you look at it, Edelman — who is not leading the league in total dropped passes, the Baltimore Ravens’ Michael Crabtree (11) is — has been a pretty reliable receiver for the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady this season. While his drop numbers are always a bit on the higher side, he is providing a steady presence at a wide receiver position that has seen plenty of turnover since March of 2018.
Edelman, who had his first drop-free game since the bye week on Sunday against the New York Jets, will likely continue to drop roughly one in ten catchable targets moving forward. But considering how important he is for the Patriots’ offensive operations and how well he is still performing this year, this number should not be worrisome — especially considering that it actually is an improvement over the last few years.