Why Marques Colston Is the NFL's Most Underrated Receiver

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IMay 16, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 09:  Marques Colston #12 of the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Marques Colston is the most underrated receiver in the NFL

And it's not even close. 

The New Orleans Saints No. 1 wideout has never made a Pro Bowl or been given All-Pro distinction. While he wouldn't be considered a secret weapon, the former seventh-round pick from Hofstra doesn't get the credit he deserves in many circles. 

Hopefully this examination will shed light on Colston's sterling resumé, especially in relation to well-known, highly-regarded receivers in the league today.

Let's begin by comparing Colston to three wideouts who are considered among the best in the game, guys who certainly aren't underrated. 

(They also happen to have joined the NFL around the same time Colston did in 2006.)

Name Career Receptions Per Game Career Yards Per Game  Career TDs Per Game
Greg Jennings 4.42 68.1 .55 
Calvin Johnson 5.30 85.2 .58
Brandon Marshall 5.72 72.5 .42
Marques Colston 5.21 72.5 .57


Colston's per-game numbers are clearly quite impressive across the board. In this case, they're better than Jennings in every category and Colston's receptions-per-game and touchdowns-per-game averages are on par with the undisputed top receiver in the NFL. 

Jennings, Johnson and Marshall have been named to a combined nine Pro Bowls and three First-Team All-Pro teams.

Remember, the Pro Bowl is far from being the purest practice of correctly labeling the league's best players, as it's become somewhat of a yearly popularity contest. 

But the fact that Colston has never been named to one speaks to his public perception and subsequent underrated status.

If 1,000-yard seasons are your thing, Colston checks out favorably in relation to his receiving peers, too. 

He has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in six of his seven professional seasons, tied with Reggie Wayne, Roddy White and Marshall for the most 1,000-yard campaigns since 2006. 

Altogether, Wayne, White and Marshall have been named to a whopping, yet deserved, 14 Pro Bowls and three First-Team All-Pro teams. 

The most common criticisms against Colston as an elite receiver are as such, and actually are related: Drew Brees' consistently prolific, pass-happy offense inflates Colston's statistics and his comparatively lower single-season receiving yard career high of 1,202. 

Brees' quarterbacking brilliance and high-volume passing attack are undoubtedly beneficial to Colston. 

However, New Orleans' offense is mainly predicated on distributing the football to a wide range of receivers, tight ends and running backs. 

Brandon Marshall 9.62
Greg Jennings 7.64
Calvin Johnson 9.58
Roddy White  9.09
Reggie Wayne 9.57
Marques Colston 8.09
Name Average Targets Per Game Since 2006

While Colston definitely gets his fair share of targets every game and every season, he's not targeted nearly as much as some of the more prominent receiving names. 

He saw 144 targets in 2007, the most of his career, which is considerably lower than most of the aforementioned top wideouts. 

Brandon Marshall 194 (2012)
Greg Jennings 139 (2008)
Calvin Johnson 205 (2012)
Roddy White  181 (2011)
Reggie Wayne 173 (2010)
Marques Colston 144 (2007)
Name Career High of Targets in a Single Season

Colston simply hasn't had the football thrown in his direction as often, which could be part of the reason why his single-season receiving yard career high is lower than most of the household names at his position. 

Also, Colston has been dubbed as more of a chain-moving, possession receiver than a downfield threat during his time with the Saints, something that may have given the impression that he was a boring, underneath receiver incapable of making big plays.

After all, we love big plays.

Actually though, his career yards-per-reception average stacks up with the league's best.

Name Career Yards Per Reception Average
Brandon Marshall 12.7
Greg Jennings 15.4
Calvin Johnson 16.1
Reggie Wayne 13.5 
Roddy White 14.0
Marques Colston 13.9

Obviously, Colston hasn't been as vertically dangerous as some of his wide receiver mates, but the notion that he can't or doesn't stretch the field is probably overblown, right?

A career yards-per-reception average between Wayne and White is surely respectable to say the least. 

Heck, with the crowd of tremendous receivers in the NFC, there's a legitimate chance he never makes a Pro Bowl and is never a member of the All-Pro team.

But with years of sustained high-level production and not nearly as much to show for it as his wideout cohorts, it's easy to see that Marques Colston is the most underrated receiver in the NFL.


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