A Further Look at Martellus Bennett: Fringe of Elite

Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

This evolved from a long fanpost

90 targets on Eli's 536 attempts. 16.7% targets from attempts for Bennett who had much better competition for looks with Cruz, Nicks, and the rest of the crew that was catching the pigskin in New York.

44 targets on Jay's 434 attempts makes for a targets from attempt ratio closer to 10.1% for Kellen Davis. This is being amidst an oft injured Bears receiving corps that only had one standout and neglected to incorporate their second best receiving threat, Matt Forte.

That means that even with leaving out the detracting factors to target percentage due to complimentary receiving threats, Martellus Bennett would still represent a 65% increase over Kellen Davis in target percentage. A factor that could point towards the ability of a player to get open and have the Quarterbacks trust.

Not even to mention that Martellus had a receptions/target ratio of around 61% compared with Kellen Davis, 43%.

I think Martellus could be a sleeper top 5 TE.

Lets look at the primary competition in 2013:

Jimmy Graham
Jason Witten
Tony Gonzalez
Dennis Pitta
Vernon Davis
Rob Gronkowski
Greg Olsen
Kyle Rudolph
Antonio Gates
Jared Cook

Jimmy Graham:
Targets: 135 Receptions: 85 == 63%
out of 670 Drew Brees attempts or 20.1% of targets/attempts

Jason Witten:
Targets: 150 Receptions: 110 == 73%
out of Tony Romo's 648 attempts or 23% t/a

Tony Gonzalez:
Targets: 124 Receptions: 93 == 75%
out of Matt Ryan's 615 attempts == 20%

Vernon Davis with Colin Kaep(including postseason)
Targets: 66 Receptions:41 == 62%
out of Colin's 289 attempts in full games or 22%

Dennis Pitta
Targets: 93 Receptions: 61 == 65.5%
out of Joe's 531 Attempts or 17.5%

For some extra reference lets glace at J. Finley:
Targets: 88 Receptions: 61 == 69%
out of 552 attempts or 15.9%

In order for Bennett to jump into the conversation of elite (or top 5 TEs) he needs to be in the conversation with the above talent. Without beating a dead horse, the above players are not greatly seperated in the pass game statistically.

So what does the Black Unicorn need to do to get in the top 5?
Any combination of the following:

  1. Be targeted more. Perhaps being under new tutelage/lack of other weapons/building rapport with Jay will elevate him to 120-130 season targets.
  2. Increase his reception rate. At 61%, that would put Martellus at the lower end of the elite spectrum. It isn't a perfect measure, however. A quick glance at Bennett's highlight real will reveal some difficult catches he was asked to make.
  3. A stronger national media focus on run blocking. Bennett is among the best
  4. A shake up at the top. Gonzo has had a HOF career, which is nearing an end and Gronkowski might never be the same after this offseason. Witten looks like an iron man, but age has an unfortunate way of bringing players down quickly.The top of the list, less Graham and Gronk(assuming a full recovery), is still heavily populated by aging players or players at the twilight of their prime years.

Martellus might have been plagued by having such great receivers around him in NY. His target/attempt ratio looks more reminiscent of Finley up north. Ny and GB have similar depth/quality of receivers, so it's a good comparison. Chicago does not have the same luxury. It isn't unreasonable that Martellus becomes a favorite target of Jay's and demands a target ratio closer to that of other elite TEs north of 20%.

I know this all sounds like Kool Aid mix, but Martellus might have found the best scenario to propel him into the upper echelons of receiving TEs and very well might be considered one of the best all around TEs by seasons close.

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This Fanpost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.