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Next Gen Stats: Daniel Jones top deep passer in NFL

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Next Gen Stats is known for taking an innovative approach to analyzing data and player performance.

In the latest breakdown using the service, NFL.com's Nick Shook analyzed the top deep passers in the NFL last season. Coming in at No. 1 on the list was Giants quarterback Daniel Jones.

"We relied on a group of metrics to rank the qualifying passers," Shook wrote. "Chief among them: completion percentage over expectation (CPOE), which represents the difference between a passer's expected completion percentage (determined by evaluating a number of factors, including pressure, time to throw, distance of attempt and separation between targeted receiver and nearest defender) and actual completion percentage. A positive CPOE indicates performance above expectation, while a negative difference indicates performance below expectation...

"A key part of determining expected completion percentage is the separation of a receiver from the nearest defender at the time a pass arrives. A quarterback equipped with receivers who are excellent at creating separation figures to suffer in this regard because he'll have more expected completions than your average QB."

In 14 games in 2020, Jones completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 2,943 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, his numbers improved significantly when throwing the ball down the field (pass attempts of 20+ air yards).

Below is the data released by Next Gen Stats, which looks at his completion percentage on deep throws, his expected completion percentage on said passes, and his completion percentage over expectation:

Deep attempts: 19-of-39, 636 yards, 5:0 TD-to-INT ratio, 134.3 passer rating

Comp: 48.7%

xComp: 33.9%

CPOE: +14.8%

As Shook writes, "Jones went deep just 39 times but was very effective when doing so, and his year-to-year improvement is incredibly encouraging. After posting a CPOE of -4.9 percent in 2019, Jones took a massive leap in 2020 to +14.8 percent, an improvement of +19.7 percentage points, the largest in the entire league from 2019 to 2020. It seems head coach Joe Judge's arrival did more than just turn the Giants into a scrappy bunch -- it also elevated Jones' effectiveness downfield. His passer rating on deep throws was the highest in the league at 134.3, and his completion percentage on such attempts (48.7) was the fourth-highest mark."

Jones' improvement in this area from his first to second season is a good sign for his future, but it is not the only reason why.

Heading into the offseason, it was clear that the Giants planned to surround Jones with as many playmakers as possible. In his season-ending press conference back in January, Giants President and CEO John Mara told the media, "I think we certainly need to help our offense a little bit this offseason, be it free agency and the draft. I think we need some more pieces there."

We can now look back and say that is exactly what the Giants did. In free agency, the Giants made several offensive splashes with the signings of Kenny Golladay, Kyle Rudolph, and John Ross. Big Blue then spent the No. 20 overall pick on Kadarius Toney, providing the offense with another versatile weapon. These four joined a group that already included Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram and others, not to mention the return of star running back Saquon Barkley.

But in terms of Jones' deep passing, the addition of Golladay could serve as a significant X-factor. Since 2018, Pro Football Focus states that Golladay has the second-highest contested catch rate of any wide receiver in the NFL with at least 50 targets at 63 percent, trailing only New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas (64 percent). In addition, while his 2020 campaign was cut short due to injury, the 6-foot-5 receiver played in all 16 games in 2019 and ranked second in the league with 628 yards on deep passes. ESPN's Matthew Berry added that among receivers who have played a minimum of 30 games since 2018, Golladay ranks third in deep receptions per game and seventh in air yards per target.

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