What Alabama football receivers are doing to minimize drops in 2023

Few self-inflicted wounds kill a successful offensive drive like drops.

A receiver could have gotten perfect separation from the defensive back 40 yards downfield, the offensive line could have stifled the pass rush, and the quarterback could have thrown a rocketing tight spiral. But none of it matters if the ball hits the receivers hands and ricochets.

Drops are bound to happen from time to time. The key for Alabama football will be finding ways to minimize them as much as possible.

The Crimson Tide wasn't the worst in the SEC in drops in 2022, but Alabama could have been better. It will need to be better this season, considering the Crimson Tide will be breaking in a new starting quarterback. If he makes a good throw, the receivers can't waste it.

"As a receiver, if you can’t catch the ball, you really can’t be on the field," junior receiver Ja'Corey Brooks said.

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Alabama tallied 23 drops over 438 pass attempts, per Pro Football Focus' charting. These aren't plays defenders made on a ball to break it up. PFF only charts drops as plays where the receiver is at fault, or essentially when it bounces off his hands or he can't corral it. That's a rate of 5.25%, which ranked fifth-worst in the SEC.

Jermaine Burton, back for his second season after transferring from Georgia ahead of 2022, said receivers are staying after practice to get work on the jugs machine. They're also doing drills with two-pound weighted balls.

"Mainly repetition of it," Burton said. "Catching, catching, catching. You’re not going to get all the catches you need in practice. It’s up to you to stay after practice and get the good amount of catches you need."

Brooks mentioned sometimes receivers will even work before practice.

The group is still taking shape with a variety of options and it remains unclear how snaps will be distributed. The Crimson Tide has upperclassmen available such as Burton and Brooks. Then there are some talented sophomores in Isaiah Bond, Kendrick Law, Kobe Prentice and Emmanuel Henderson. Malik Benson also joined this offseason as the top junior-college transfer. Brooks, Burton and Bond seemed to be the main three first getting work with the top offense in the practice that was open this past Saturday.

No matter who plays, the fewer drops they have, the better the offense with plenty of question marks will be.

"They're all working hard but I do think attention to detail is probably one of the biggest things," Saban said. "Route-running, timing in the passing game that they all need to focus on."

Which SEC team had the highest drop rate in 2022?

Using PFF's charting of drops, here's the percentage of pass attempts per team that resulted in drops, going from highest drop rate to lowest.

  1. Missouri: 6.06%

2. Auburn: 5.52%

3. Kentucky: 5.44%

4. LSU: 5.42%

5. Alabama: 5.25%

6. Texas A&M: 5.12%

7. Arkansas: 4.76%

T-8. Mississippi State: 4.73%

T-8. Tennessee: 4.73%

10. Georgia: 4.47%

11. Ole Miss: 4.13%

12. Florida: 4.10%

13. South Carolina: 3.80%

14. Vanderbilt: 3.47%

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama football: How receivers are working to limit drops in 2023