I’m a stats man and perhaps that is some of the pull of the NFL for an Englishman who has never donned shoulder pads, other than the smaller foam ones worn playing rugby.
One of my favourites to follow on Twitter is @BalesFootball because of the stats he uses to back up his arguments relating to Cowboys football. If you read back through his tweets, you will see a few of his muses come up time and time again:
- Randle is too small and slow to be a productive NFL running back.
- Witten’s yards-per-catch is dropping and his production will tail off this year.
- The Cowboys should continue to throw the ball on 1st down even at the risk of putting you in 2nd & long.
- Selvie has the length to be an elite defensive end.
- Cole Beasley is limited in what he can do so why not upgrade the wide receiver position in the draft?
Well the Cowboys did select a WR in this years draft, although not until Devin Street in the 5th round, and Bales would have preferred targeting a big man and moving Dez or Williams to the slot. How frustrating is it when Dallas moves the ball efficiently only to find themselves in a 3rd & 4 situation and unable to move the chains?
Last year the Cowboys converted on just 63 of 180 attempts (35%).  Well this is why I love Cole Beasley and hope that he sees the field more in 2014.
After the discussion arose on Twitter I mentioned that someone should look at the number of targets on 3rd down and relate this to completions and 1st downs. Well, why don’t I do it myself? 
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We must remember that this is a small sample size and Beasley had only been in the league one year so opposing defences may not have been focused on him, but how good are these numbers? Firstly, let’s have a look at the second best wide receiver in the game (behind #88 of course!):
[table id=9 /]
Since 2006, Lance Moore and Marques Colston lead the NFL in 3rd down conversion percentage with 54 percent. Wes Welker, with a similar body type to Beasley, ranks 5th.
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What is also evident is that both Moore and Colston played in New Orleans during this time. The 3rd down statistics of these two players clearly benefited not only by the quarterback throwing them the ball, Drew Brees, but by playing with each other and therefore drawing coverage away from the other. Perhaps the lack of a running game and another true receiving threat outside of perhaps Jason Witten explains why Dez Bryant’s conversion percentage is just 41.
If Beasley can continue at the conversion rate of 2013 (in the SF game Beasley was 2 of 3 and both for 1st downs, that’s a 66% catch and conversion), and perhaps Gavin Escobar also fulfill his potential, then opposing defences would need to focus their attention on a number of targets on 3rd down. This can only benefit the single true game changing receiver on this roster and his big play ability.