How good have Ole Miss receivers been this season? A look at the numbers

Nov. 2—OXFORD — Ole Miss senior wide receiver Jordan Watkins hasn't had to adjust the way he plays with the small cast on his right hand. He did, however, have to slightly alter his starting quarterback's breakfast plans prior to the Auburn game.

Watkins had two plates put in his hand after a "freak accident" at practice during Ole Miss' bye week. It seemed unlikely he would play at Jordan-Hare Stadium given the time frame, but he said he felt good on Oct. 21. So good, in fact, he told head coach Lane Kiffin in the team hotel he thought he could play.

So, Kiffin made sure to check off all the boxes.

"We were just throwing balls in the ball room, and obviously I had one of the trainers throw to me, and he was like, 'No, that's not going to cut it,'" Watkins said. "And we had Jaxson (Dart), we pulled him out of breakfast, and he came and was ripping it."

A lot has been made of the Rebels' wide receiver room in the last few days, and for good reason. The Rebels are the only Power Five team with three 500-plus-yard receivers, comprised of Watkins and seniors Tre Harris and Dayton Wade. The trio has a combined 102 catches for 1,638 yards and 11 touchdowns. Each is in the top-11 in receiving yards in the SEC. The last time Ole Miss had three 500-yard receivers in an entire season was 2018 with A.J. Brown, DaMarkus Lodge and DK Metcalf.

If it seems like a different name has led the pack on a weekly basis, that's because it's precisely what's happened — Ole Miss has not had the same player lead the team in receiving yards in consecutive weeks. In chronological order, the leader in receiving yards has been: Harris, Wade, Watkins, Wade, Harris, Watkins, Harris and Wade. On two occasions, two Rebels receivers finished with at least 100 receiving yards.

Harris is among the best in the nation at stretching the field, as his 19.9 yards per reception is 14th nationally and second in the SEC behind Alabama's Jermaine Burton. He is the highest-rated receiver of the bunch according to Pro Football Focus, holding an 88.1 grade. He has lined up mostly on the outside, logging 78.3% of his passing snaps out wide.

Watkins has thrived inside, as 83.8% of his passing snaps have come in the slot. And, despite his 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame, Wade has taken most of is snaps on the perimeter with 83.6% of his passing snaps coming out wide.

Wade also has the highest contested catch rate, catching three of six contested targets. He has the same number of contested catches as Harris on eight less targets.

Watkins has the highest receiving percentage of the three, catching 73.6% of his targets. Wade is right behind at 73.5%. While Harris' 60% catch rate is fairly far behind the other two, part of that can be attributed to his throws coming further down the field; his 12.9 average depth of target is 1.5 yards higher than the next closest (Watkins, 11.4). The trio also thrives after the catch, as each averages at least 6.4 yards after catch (Harris leads with 8.8). For reference, the nation's leading receiver, LSU's Malik Nabers, averages 6.2 yards after catch.