Clark and the HoF, Part 2

I want to follow up on yesterday’s post on Dallas Clark with more comparisons.

The thrust of the post yesterday, especially the reference to the Pro Bowl, is that Dallas Clark is not statistically on par with Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. That means he’s at best the fourth most productive tight end of the era, and possibly, the fifth best.

Today, I’m going to compare the advanced metrics of DYAR, DVOA, and Catch Rate for Clark, Gates, Witten, Gonzalez and Jeremey Shockey. The wonder of this batch of tight ends is that three of them started in 2003, thus for Clark, Gates and Witten these represent career totals.

2003-2010

Rec Yards Y/R TD DYAR Targets Catch Rate
Clark 393 4535 11.5 44 983 571 68.8%
Gates 529 7005 13.2 72 1958 807 65.6%
Witten 617 6967 11.3 36 1508 868 71.1%
Gonzalez 672 7732 11.5 51 1648 1026 65.5%
Shockey 436 4794 11.0 31 604 696 62.6%

Note: Shockey’s rookie year was 2002. Gonzalez’s was 1997.

DVOA can’t be calculated cumulatively, but here are the DVOA scores for each man by year:

03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Clark 9.5 24.1 30.5 14.4 16.3 19.0 22.6 6.0
Gates 20.2 32.5 22.1 8.4 30.1 15.5 38.4 79.5
Witten 0.6 20.7 31.2 22.9 21.3 19.0 20.1 18.9
Gonzalez 26.7 25.6 14.8 29.2 13.6 16.5 10.6 1.6
Shockey 13.0 5.2 5.9 0.3 2.9 -5.0 23.4 8.7

Looking at these numbers as a whole, it’s impossible to rank Clark any higher than 4th. He’s clearly better than Shockey on a value basis. He has more DYAR, consistently higher DVOA, and a much better catch rate and yards per reception. Despite trailing in some volume stats, there’s little doubt who was the better player.

Clark clearly doesn’t benefit from the same number of targets as the top three tigh ends, but their advantages over him are not strictly limited to higher usage. Witten actually has a better catch rate over nearly 300 more targets.  Over the 8 seasons both played, Witten had a higher DVOA in 4 of them.  There’s just no standard by which Clark can be said to be superior to Witten.

As for Gonzalez and Gates, there’s almost no comparison. Gates has been TWICE as valuable as Clark over the past 8 years, and Gonzalez (who already had many outstanding seasons not counted here) nearly so.  Gates has had the better DVOA five times, including a massive advantage in 2010. Clark did pass Gonzalez in DVOA five times, but a small quality gain is not nearly enough to offset the huge advantage Gonzalez has in usage.

Clark’s modest edge in catch rate is nice, but both Gonzalez and Gates have a better yards per reception (Gates much better) which offsets it.

I love Dallas Clark.

He’s not a Hall of Fame tight end.

He’s at best the fourth best tight end of this era.

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