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Why Brian Hartline is Worth 3.5million per year!

Brian Hartline was a bright spot on the Dolphins much maligned receiving core in 2012, and he became the favorite target of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

In a contract year as the #1 receiver, Hartline posted career best numbers with 74 receptions, 1083 yards, and one touchdown.

Hartline, undoubtedly was the best receiver the Dolphins had on its roster, but was it that difficult for him to stand-out given the group of receivers around him?

Even the dullest of metals will shine amongst rubble right! Before I am crucified, let me share my thoughts. Let’s take an in-depth look at Brian Hartline.

Player Age Weight Height 40T
Brian Hartline 26 199 6-2 4.52

 

College Career

Brian Hartline was selected in the 4th round of the 2009 draft by the Miami Dolphins. He played his college career at Ohio State University where he was part of the 2008 BCS National Championship Team that lost to LSU. Hartline was listed as the #2 WR behind Brian Robiskie. Hartline was not a dominant college player, but proved too be an average one, his production in college left much to be desired and was average at best. It’s fair to mention that OSU had a fairly run heavy scheme with Terrell Pryor and Beanie Wells. But, in Hartline’s 3 seasons with OSU his best ever single season came in 2007 where we gained 693 yards for 6TDs. Over 3 season’s he scored a total of 12TDs. Hartline has never proven to be a receiver that can put points on the board.
<table style=”width: 365px” border=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”0″>
YEAR TEAM REC YDS AVG LNG TD 2006 OSU 17 256 15.1 32 2 2007 OSU 52 694 13.3 65 6 2008 OSU 21 479 22.8 56 4

Hartline entered the 2009 NFL draft listed at 6’2” 195lbs and ran 4.52 40 yard dash.

 

Dolphins Career – 3 Season’s Prior to 2012

Hartline has been a starter since his rookie year, and he has been predominantly used in the role of the #2 and #3 receiver prior to the 2012 season. He has been a satisfactory receiver on a team with generally poor Quarterback play over his first 3 years, and he has turned out to be decent value for a 4th round draft selection. However, his production at the Pro level is consistent with his college career, while somewhat reliable, it has never been great. And there continued to be a trend of him not being able to find the End-Zone. Hartline managed to catch an uninspiring 56% of the passes targeted to him over his first 3 seasons.

SEASON TEAM GP REC TGTS YDS TD REC/TGT Ratio
2009 MIA 16 31 56 506 3 55%
2010 MIA 12 43 73 615 1 59%
2011 MIA 16 35 67 549 1 52%
3yr Avg.</strong> MIA 15 36 65 557 2 56%

 

Dolphins Career – 2012 Breakout

Things got off to a rough start for Hartline in 2012. The young receiver who was heading into a contract year had an arduous off-season where he missed OTAs and much of the pre-season with a calf-injury and an emergency appendectomy which ravaged his body. It was not a routine procedure either; it was more of a “through the valley of the shadow of death” sort of appendectomy! But Hartline persevered and got himself ready for the start of the season. This is the kind of guy I want to root for, but alas I am a fan of the Dolphins first and Hartline after, so that makes it a little easier to do this analysis.

With the trade of the mercurial Brandon Marshall, the epic flame-out of Chad Johnson, and the inability of any other receiver on the roster to rise to the challenge Hartline won the #1 role by default. Things were finally starting to look up for the young receiver.

Through the first 4 games in 2012 Hartline led the league in receiving yards, thanks to a 12 reception, 253yard performance away to the Arizona Cardinals in week 4. But this turned out to be the pinnacle of his season, as Hartline only managed to break the 100 yard receiving mark once after this.

When it was all said and done, Hartline finished with career best numbers of 74 receptions, 1083 yards and 1 touchdown. But again, only catching 58% of the passes targeted to him, while continuing to show a disturbing inability to score touchdowns even as a #1.

SEASON TEAM GP REC TGTS YDS TD REC/TGT Ratio
2012 MIA 16 74 128 1083 1 58%

 

 

Hartline as a Game Changing Play-maker

Hartline did have a fairly decent season where he was the #1 target, and yes he did have 1083yards, and yes he did have an amazing performance against the Arizona Cardinals, but was Hartline effective and efficient in that role through-out the season?

The following figures were calculated using WR stats only. TEs and HBs stats were not included.The Statistics used, were taken from only those WRs who had 35 plus receptions for the 2012 regular season. 73 receivers met the threshold of 35+ receptions in 2012.

Of the 73 wide receivers with more than 35 receptions in 2012, 45 of them had a higher “catch per target” ratio than Hartline. Therefore roughly 62% of receivers were better than Hartline at making a play on the ball and coming down with the catch when being targeted.

Also surprisingly, the average of all 73 receivers “catch-to-target ratios” was higher than Hartline’s 58%. And amongst the top 45 receivers, this disparity increased to 65% versus Hartline’s 58%. In both cases, Hartline ended up having inferior numbers from a “catch-to-target ratio” perspective.

From a “yards per catch” perspective, there were 24 receivers that had a higher “yards per catch” average than Hartline. However, Hartline did show better “yards per catch” statistics of 14.6 yards versus the 13.7 yards average for all 73 receivers evaluated. So there is a minor consideration that Hartline’s was running slightly deeper routes by 1 yard as compared to 67% of the receiver’s used in this analysis.

This table shows where Hartline ranked in each category out the 73 WRs that had +35 receptions in 2012
HARTLINE REC TGT YDS AVG TD 20+ YAC REC/TGT YAC/REC YDS/TGT
RANKS 17 19 16 25 67 23 42 46 58 30

The table above is very indicative of Hartline’s lack of play-making ability.

Although Hartline ranked 19th in total targets in 2012, he did not outperform those targets in any significant way across all metrics.

For Hartline to be ranked the 19th most targeted receiver in 2012, how does he finish as the 67th ranked player for touchdowns! That’s a difficult thing to achieve.

Further damaging to Hartline’s outlook is the fact that he finished as the 42nd ranked player for total yards after catch (YAC) even though he was the 17th ranked receiver for receptions. It can’t get much worse than that right?

Well yes it could, because Hartline finished as the 58th ranked receiver for yards after the catch per reception made. That meant once Hartline did catch the ball, he did next to nothing with it over the course of the season.

Except for that performance versus the Arizona Cardinals, Hartline is a very average receiver. Hartline needs to have a high number of targets to make very little happen with the football. The problem for him is that he is not a #1WR, so I expect him to fade back into his previous years production once the Dolphins acquire a viable #1. Is this the play-maker that we desperately need to resign at 6 million per year? I say definitively NO.

Let me repeat that: Hartline is an average receiver, and needs to have a high number of targets to make very little happen with the football.

 

Hartline – The Magician

Excluding the Cardinals game, Hartline had a knack for disappearing versus the better pass defenses in the league. As I crunched the numbers, just when I thought the evidence couldn’t be more compelling against Hartline, it got even worse.

We can see from the table below that versus the better pass defenses the Dolphins faced in 2012, Hartline all but disappeared, apart from his performance against the Arizona Cardinals. In the 9 games versus defenses that finished the season in the TOP 16 versus the pass, Hartline averaged just 61 yards per game. And that’s including his 253 yard outburst versus the Cardinals. If we were to take that game away, his performance stats would be downright abysmal, averaging just 37.9 yards per game. Is this the play-maker that’s worth 6 million per year!

Hartline’s Performance versus the NFL’s Top 16 Pass Defenses
WEEK OPPONENTS Pass Def Rank REC TGTS YDS TDs
1 Houston 16 3 8 50 0
3 New York 2 1 9 41 0
4 Arizona 5 12 18 253 1
5 Cincinnati 7 4 5 59 0
8 New York 2 4 6 41 0
11 Buffalo 10 4 7 49 0
12 Seattle 6 2 5 17 0
14 San Fran 4 2 6 34 0
16 Buffalo 10 2 7 12 0
Total 34 71 556 1

 

See below: Even with the big game against the Arizona Cardinals, Hartline’s 2012 stats versus the 9 top ranked defenses vs the pass was absolutely dreadful.

HARTLINE VS TOP PASS DEFs AVG REC AVG TGTS AVG YDS AVG TDs
3.8 7.9 61.8 0.11

We can see again below: That if the Arizona Cardinals is left out of the calculations Hartline’s stats goes from dreadful to atrocious.

HARTLINE VS TOP PASS DEFs EXCLUDING ARZ AVG REC AVG TGTS AVG YDS AVG TDs
2.8 6.6 37.9 0.0

 

 

Hartline vs Free Agents from 2012

Hartline or his agent thinks he is in the Laurent Robinson’s and Robert Meacham’s contract range.

Well let’s put up their contract year numbers from 2011 and compare them to Hartline’s 2012 numbers.

Hartline vs Robinson – Robinson got a 5yr deal paying 6.5million per year
YEAR PLAYER REC TGT YDS AVG TD YAC REC/TGT YAC/REC YDS/TGT
2012 Brian Hartline 74 128 1,083 14.6 1 240 58% 3.24 8.5
2011 Laurent Robinson 54 81 858 15.9 11 264 67% 4.89 10.6

 

Hartline vs Meacham – Meacham got a 4yr deal paying 6.5million per year.
YEAR PLAYER REC TGT YDS AVG TD YAC REC/TGT YAC/REC YDS/TGT
2012 Brian Hartline 74 128 1,083 14.6 1 240 58% 3.24 8.5
2011 Robert Meachem 40 61 620 15.5 6 103 66% 2.58 10.2

As you can see from the above tables both Robinson and Meacham had less total targets than Hartline and as a result less total yardage. However, both players produced more yards per catch and scored more touchdowns even though they were targeted less. Also observe the REC/TGT (catches-to-targets ratio) column; both players caught approx. 9% more balls that were thrown to them. And both players had more “yards per targeted” pass. Which means both Robinson and Meacham did lot more with fewer opportunities and fewer balls thrown their way.

 

 

How Hartline compared to the Best “Catch per Target Ratio” Receivers in 2012

The table below shows the success rate of receivers making a play on the ball when they were targeted. Hartline ranked poorly, he was 46 out of 73 receivers. Guys like Brandon Stokley, Jason Avant, Leonard Hankerson, Andrew Hawkins, Dexter McCluster, Domenik Hixon and Brandon Gibson out-performed him.

Table compares Hartline to the best reception-per-target receivers of 2013
RANK PLAYER REC/TGT REC TGT YDS AVG TD YAC YAC/REC YDS/TGT
1 Brandon Stokley 78% 45 58 544 12.1 5 131 2.91 9.4
2 Randall Cobb 77% 80 104 954 11.9 8 462 5.78 9.2
3 M Manningham 74% 42 57 449 10.7 1 183 4.36 7.9
4 Percy Harvin 73% 62 85 677 10.9 3 531 8.56 8.0
5 Jason Avant 70% 53 76 648 12.2 0 166 3.13 8.5
6 Eric Decker 69% 85 123 1,064 12.5 13 267 3.14 8.7
7 Andre Johnson 68% 112 164 1,598 14.3 4 472 4.21 9.7
8 Wes Welker 68% 118 174 1,354 11.5 6 619 5.25 7.8
9 Santana Moss 67% 41 61 573 14 8 225 5.49 9.4
10 Jordy Nelson 67% 49 73 745 15.2 7 208 4.24 10.2
11 Michael Crabtree 67% 85 127 1,105 13 9 465 5.47 8.7
12 Demaryius Thomas 67% 94 141 1,434 15.3 10 512 5.45 10.2
13 Dez Bryant 67% 92 138 1,382 15 12 455 4.95 10.0
14 Malcom Floyd 67% 56 84 814 14.5 5 122 2.18 9.7
15 Leonard Hankerson 67% 38 57 543 14.3 3 148 3.89 9.5
16 Dexter McCluster 67% 52 78 452 8.7 1 203 3.90 5.8
17 Golden Tate 66% 45 68 688 15.3 7 221 4.91 10.1
18 Domenik Hixon 66% 39 59 567 14.5 2 113 2.90 9.6
19 Josh Morgan 66% 48 73 510 10.6 2 234 4.88 7.0
20 Pierre Garcon 66% 44 67 633 14.4 4 298 6.77 9.4
21 James Jones 65% 64 98 784 12.3 14 151 2.36 8.0
22 Harry Douglas 64% 38 59 396 10.4 1 146 3.84 6.7
23 Roddy White 64% 92 143 1,351 14.7 7 338 3.67 9.4
24 Andrew Hawkins 64% 51 80 533 10.5 4 336 6.59 6.7
25 Marques Colston 63% 83 132 1,154 13.9 10 296 3.57 8.7
26 Antonio Brown 63% 66 105 787 11.9 5 319 4.83 7.5
27 Sidney Rice 63% 50 80 748 15 7 164 3.28 9.4
28 Danny Amendola 62% 63 101 666 10.6 3 253 4.02 6.6
29 Brandon Gibson 62% 51 82 691 13.5 5 108 2.12 8.4
30 Lance Moore 62% 65 105 1,041 16 6 130 2.00 9.9
46 Brian Hartline 58% 74 128 1,083 14.6 1 240 3.24 8.5

 

 

How Hartline stacked up against Receivers with the Best “YAC per Reception” in 2012

Table shows the guys who gained the most amount of yardage per reception after the catch. These are the guys that made the most out of every ball they caught. These guys are play-makers with the ball in their hands. Hartline ranked a disconcerting 58 out 73 in this category.

 

Table compares Hartline to the best yards after catch per reception receivers of 2013
RANK PLAYER YAC/REC REC TGT YDS AVG TD YAC REC/TGT YDS/TGT
1 Percy Harvin 8.56 62 85 677 10.9 3 531 73% 8.0
2 DnarioAlexander 7.19 37 62 658 17.8 7 266 60% 10.6
3 Pierre Garcon 6.77 44 67 633 14.4 4 298 66% 9.4
4 Andrew Hawkins 6.59 51 80 533 10.5 4 336 64% 6.7
5 Brandon LaFell 6.57 44 76 677 15.4 4 289 58% 8.9
6 Cecil Shorts 6.35 55 106 979 17.8 7 349 52% 9.2
7 T.Y. Hilton 6.32 50 91 861 17.2 7 316 55% 9.5
8 Josh Gordon 6.08 50 96 805 16.1 5 304 52% 8.4
9 Chris Givens 6.02 42 81 698 16.6 3 253 52% 8.6
10 Darrius Hey-Bey 5.88 41 80 606 14.8 5 241 51% 7.6
11 Randall Cobb 5.78 80 104 954 11.9 8 462 77% 9.2
12 Julio Jones 5.70 79 129 1,198 15.2 10 450 61% 9.3
13 Santana Moss 5.49 41 61 573 14 8 225 67% 9.4
14 Michael Crabtree 5.47 85 127 1,105 13 9 465 67% 8.7
15 Demaryius Thomas 5.45 94 141 1,434 15.3 10 512 67% 10.2
16 DeSean Jackson 5.42 45 85 700 15.6 2 244 53% 8.2
17 Wes Welker 5.25 118 174 1,354 11.5 6 619 68% 7.8
18 Nate Washington 5.20 46 89 746 16.2 4 239 52% 8.4
19 Dez Bryant 4.95 92 138 1,382 15 12 455 67% 10.0
20 Golden Tate 4.91 45 68 688 15.3 7 221 66% 10.1
21 Josh Morgan 4.88 48 73 510 10.6 2 234 66% 7.0
22 Torrey Smith 4.86 49 110 855 17.4 8 238 45% 7.8
23 Antonio Brown 4.83 66 105 787 11.9 5 319 63% 7.5
24 Jeremy Kerley 4.73 56 96 827 14.8 2 265 58% 8.6
25 Kendall Wright 4.70 64 104 626 9.8 4 301 62% 6.0
26 Miles Austin 4.62 66 118 943 14.3 6 305 56% 8.0
27 Donald Jones 4.59 41 67 443 10.8 4 188 61% 6.6
28 Emm. Sanders 4.43 44 74 626 14.2 1 195 59% 8.5
29 Davone Bess 4.38 61 104 778 12.8 1 267 59% 7.5
30 M Manningham 4.36 42 57 449 10.7 1 183 74% 7.9
31 Mike Wallace 4.31 64 119 836 13.1 8 276 54% 7.0
58 Brian Hartline 3.24 74 128 1083 14.6 1 240 58% 8.5

 

Conclusion

Brian Hartline has been an average receiver who has never shown the ability to score touchdowns at both the college and pro level. He is a receiver that requires a lot of targets to make things happen. He was in a fortunate situation in 2012 where he became the go-to option in Miami on a team with a weak receiving core. There are several receivers in the NFL and in the draft that could have done more with the number of targets Hartline saw from rookie Quarterback Ryan Tannehill. I do believe Hartline belongs in the NFL. He definitely has a role to play in the league, but that role is not worth 6 million per year. Far from it!

 

If Brian Hartline was a free agent from another team, would you want your front office to pursue him at 6 million per year? Hartline’s value is closer to what Mario Manningham got from the 49ers and what the San Diego Chargers gave Malcom Floyd. Brian Hartline is at best a 3.5 million per year receiver.

 

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Why Brian Hartline is Worth 3.5million per year!, 4.3 out of 5 based on 9 ratings
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8 Responses to Why Brian Hartline is Worth 3.5million per year!

  • who says we have to pay him 6 mil.
    just pay him 4.5 mil and welcome your new chain mover.

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  • great write up BTW

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  • Hey I have an Idea, lets just bring in 5 new recievers and see how that works. That should do wonders for a second year QB…..

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    • considering the fact that he only threw to 2 recievers this year i dont think it can get any worse than that

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  • I really think this is overkill. I mean i didnt even want to continue reading. Look he is a good reciever and should of had atleast 4-5 more td’s if t hill had hit him in stride. Watch the highlights. He was a guy other teams tride to stop and he still was able to get open. I dont know why people just want to give our talent away. T hill likes him and they are on the same page. That only took one season. That means soo much in the NFL. Knowing what way a reciever will break or is breaks off on a blitz. He will only continue to get better and I would love to see him as a dolphin for a long time as a number 2 wide out. With a legit number one he will be open all the time especially working on a number 2 cb. You have to be honest and look at some of the recievers payton manning is making stars this year. They have one legit number 1 and a bunch of guys without the talent hartline has. Just put it to rest. He will be a dolphin next year and years to come especially if T hill has anything to say about it….

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    • Thank you Ryan, you could not be more correct. Hartline is a good, reliable player that was willing to get crushed for his QB–he will be free to roam once Miami lands a true #1. We need to unload the borderline guys, not the good ones.

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  • Nice try with lots of stats but this also demonstrates the dangers of stats. You need to see the player behind the stats. If this weren’t a team sport then stats would be an accurate measure of performance. We have to remember that Tannehill just plain old missed him on a lot of throws. If Tannehill hits him on 3 or 4 of those long balls we’d have a couple more TDs etc.. I’m not knocking Tannehill for a rookie with a first year head coach and the team learning a whole new offense he did great. This is also the first time Hartline was in a true passing offense. I think we finally saw what he is capable of. I would point out that 10 of the top 31 receivers have less than 58% Rec. to Targets including Mike Wallace who will be demanding around 10 Mil. I think Hartline is easily worth 5 Mil maybe even as much as 6 Mil. The fact is he was productive when we needed him to be and was a reliable target. If more catchable balls came his way his percentage would be higher. He does not have a lot of drops which is one stat that seems to be missing from your info. There’s a lot more to evaluating talent than stats. If we let Hartline go he could end up becoming the next Wes Welker. And we look stupid once again for trading him. Remember he didn’t blossom overnight either.

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    • If you watch Hartline play these stats back that up. He is not breaking tackles or outrunning anyone for extra yardage let alone TDs. And Hartline is not the only receiver on that list that had a QB miss him on a few plays. Every receiver gets missed. And if he is looking for 6 mil the Patriots are definitely not going to pay him that. And Mike Wallace has proven to be a big time playmaker you would be a fool to compare him to Hartline.

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