Hakeem Nicks has gotten a lot of flak this season.
Bloggers, sports writers and fans have all complained that he isn’t himself and does not deserve the big contract the New York Giants seem to be ready to give him. To some extent, they are right. Nicks has not been a top-level talent and may be overpaid come this offseason. But he has been very good.
The real secret to Nicks is looking yards per target. That stat looks at the average yards gained when a quarterback throws to that receiver. Now, it is an incomplete stat as it does not fully account for everything, but it comes close to showing a receiver’s value.
Nicks’ Y/A is 7.8, which is very good. Even in an off year, that figure is higher than Eli Manning’s average yard per throw and much higher than the league average. Nicks gets a bad rap because he catches so few balls, but he is often going deep, so that does not matter. He averages over 15 yards a catch, and that is why his yards per target is relatively high.
Still, his numbers are lower than Victor Cruz’s 8.8. Nicks does not have top numbers, but still has very good ones. In addition, Nicks has been even better in the past. He was top-10 in yards per route run from 2009-2011 (his healthy years) and was clearly a dominant force.
Look, this season has reveal two things. One, Cruz is the Giants’ top wideout and two, Nicks is still not what he was in 2011. However, he has still been a very good wide receiver and does deserve a sizable (though not top dollar) contract.