Former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed is once again a finalist to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the debate on whether Reed is deserving of the honor continues for another year. The debate on Reed’s Hall of Fame worthiness stems from the fact that so many receivers today have or will surpass his career numbers. When Reed retired he sat third on the all time receptions list with 951, now he is down to 11th.
With the NFL aerial offense developed so much in today’s game it’s unfair to compare Reed to the new nominees without trying to level the field. Because of the passing game’s evolution I decided to project how productive Reed would be in today’s NFL.
To start, I had to figure out how to project Reed. First, I took Andre Reed’s career averages and took the average completion percentage of all Buffalo Bills quarterbacks while Reed was in Buffalo. I also then took the average number of passing attempts for the past seven NFL seasons. As it turns out the median difference between now and Reed’s tenure is an extra 39 passes per season, or 2.4 per game.
From there, I figured out the sum percentage of Reed’s catches to the teams total per season. After that it was just the projection of what those extra passes would add to Reed’s already noteworthy career and the outcome is noticeable.
The differential turns out to basically be a career year for Reed. He would have added another 82 catches, 1,110 yards and seven touchdowns. That total would have been Reed’s second highest catch total, fourth highest yardage total (and his fifth 1,000 yard season) and tied his fifth best touchdown output in his career.
After the output was figured out I decided to compare how Reed would match up to some of his modern day constituents. I selected one that will be on the ballot for the first time next year and another that is at the end of his career, but still active. Both players are currently ahead of Reed on the all time receptions list.
Reggie Wayne (still active): 1,006 receptions / 13,566 yards / 80 TD / 6 Pro Bowls
Isaac Bruce: 1,024 receptions / 15,208 yards / 91 TD / 4 Pro Bowls
Reed (projected): 1,023 Receptions/ 14,205 yards / 86 TD / 7 Pro Bowls
Wayne is still active and can continue to add to his career marks, but Bruce was viewed as a future Hall of Famer during his playing days and upon his retirement.
It’s namely Bruce that offers the best evaluation of where Reed stands in the eyes of the voters. In total, Bruce has one more reception, 1,003 more yards and five more touchdowns versus the modern day projection of Reed. If Reed fails to make it into the Hall this year, then it will be interesting to watch how voters justify selecting Bruce in his first year on the ballot over Reed.
On February 1st, the greatest Bills wide receiver will know if he will join his teammates in Canton, Ohio. The downfall if Reed doesn’t make it is that the longer time passes for Reed, the more his impact on the game becomes marginalized by some of the voters as new nominees become eligible. Here’s hoping that 80% of those voters realize how important Reed’s enshrinement means to not only the man, but the organization and fans.