The University of North Carolina will probably never be considered a football powerhouse. It is first and foremost a basketball school. Still, the football program is responsible for producing one of the NFL’s best wide receivers, New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. In his past two seasons, Nicks has ranked in the top ten among wide receivers in DYAR, sixth in 2010 and ninth in 2011.
Soon Nicks will be joined in the NFL by another former UNC wide receiver in Dwight Jones, who will be drafted sometime over the three-day long NFL draft. Nicks need not worry that Jones will challenge his supremacy as the best former UNC wide receiver in the NFL as Jones failed to top what Nicks did during his three seasons at UNC.
Nicks’s UNC career spanned three seasons from 2006-2008, and he spent those three seasons providing a tremendous amount of value to his quarterbacks; all statistics were gathered using box score and pass target statistics provided by UNC’s football website archives.
When Nicks’s receiving statistics were removed from his quarterbacks’ passing statistics, they experienced a 3.0 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 56.5 percent to 54.8 percent), a 12.2 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 7.4 to 6.5), a 9.9 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 13.1 to 11.8), and a 21.7 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 4.6 percent to 3.6 percent).
Nicks’s great career at UNC was powered by a season for the ages in 2008. During that season, when his statistics were removed from his quarterbacks, the quarterbacks experienced a 7.2 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 56.9 percent to 52.8 percent), a 22.2 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 8.1 to 6.3), a 16.2 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 14.2 to 11.9), and a 36.4 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 6.6 to 4.2 percent).
One would be hard pressed to find another season by a wide receiver that rivals the one Nicks turned in during 2008 before he declared himself eligible for the NFL draft.
Jones was certainly unable to match it, and his career numbers reflect that absence of such a monster season.
For his 2010 and 2011 seasons, when Jones’s receiving statistics were removed from his quarterbacks’, his quarterbacks became 2.7 percent worse in completion percentage (from 66.5 percent to 64.3 percent), 9.5 percent worse in yards per pass attempt (from 8.4 to 7.6), 5.6 percent worse in yards per completion (from 12.6 to 11.9), and 9.3 percent worse in touchdown percentage (from 5.4 percent to 4.9 percent).
Even though Jones did not have as dominant a career at UNC as did Nicks and will probably not be as great an NFL wide receiver, he still put up very good collegiate statistics. In fact, his career surpasses the ones of Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright, adding his name to the list of wide receivers who make for better NFL prospects than those two.
If he is given the opportunity of playing time by an NFL franchise, Jones will be a very effective wide receiver in the pros. He might not be a top ten wide receiver like Nicks, but there is no shame in that because not many other players are, either.