Consistency can be fleeting in the National Football League, especially when it comes to player performance. However, through four seasons, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods has had one of the lowest variances between his minimum and maximum Offensive Share Metric scores. Woods had an OSM of 25 or less in just seven of the 50 games in which he qualified for a score.
While 2016 and 2017 were mediocre in regards to production, Woods exploded in 2018 and 2019, earning his first two 1,000 yard seasons. As far as overall OSM scores, between 2016 and 2019, Woods’ overall grades saw a low of 34.94 and a high of 36.39. So how does the production jump, but the OSM stays on the same level? Let’s take a look at the Next Gen stats to get a better understanding.
Woods sets the OSM bar high during his 2016 season.
After completing his junior season for the USC Trojans, Woods declared for the 2013 NFL Draft, and the Buffalo Bills selected the wide receiver in the second round with the 41st pick. Unfortunately, the NFL’s Next Gen Stats only date back to 2016, but Woods earned quite an impressive overall OSM score at 35.82 in NGS’s first active season. He was ranked at WR18 out of the 97 that qualified that season.
Woods earned an eye-popping 3.5 average yards of separation between him and the closest defender at the moment of completion or incompletion, the second-highest separation among receivers in 2016. His catch percentage was decent at 67.11%, and he was being targeted an average of 11.2 yards throughout his 76 targets. Former Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 51 passes to Woods who turned in 613 receiving yards but only one touchdown.
The only area he seemed to lack in was finding yards after the catch. Woods was getting just 2.7 YAC per reception, which -.9 lower than his expected YAC/R. However, this area saw some changes in the years after.
Los Angeles Rams sign Woods in 2017
2017 saw a change of scenery for Woods. From the east coast to the west, the LA Rams brought Woods in their post-Jeff Fisher era. Sean McVay was appointed as head coach after the Rams fired Fisher with three games left in the season and only mustered up four wins in 2016. Woods’ OSM score fell just a tad under one point from the previous season to 34.95.
His separation saw a drop from 3.5 yards in 2016 to 3 yards in 2017 but was still the 8th highest among receivers. Woods was still being targeted downfield at an average of 10.2 yards per target and accounted for 22% percent of the Rams deep yards in the passing game, the second-highest on the team behind Sammy Watkins.
A reliable target for QB Jared Goff in his second season, Woods caught 56 of his 86 targets for 781 yards and five touchdowns. He would also vastly improve his yards after catch from 2.7 in 2016 to 5.5 yards in 2017, going from one of the lowest to the 17th-highest YAC/R. Woods also worked his differential to the positive, although just barely, finding .2 more yards after the catch than expected.
Woods broke the 1,000-yard mark in 2018
Woods set many career highs during the 2018 NFL season. He caught 86 of his 130 targets for 1,219 yards, his first 1,000-yard receiving season, and the most in his career. He would also find the endzone six times, another career-high.
.@JaredGoff16's FIFTH TD of the night!
— NFL (@NFL) September 28, 2018
Not only did he have a breakout in production, but he also continued his consistent ways in OSM. Woods would earn the lowest OSM score so far but just .01 lower than the previous season at 34.94.
His separation stayed the same at an average of three yards, the 11th highest in 2018. However, he did get targeted at a slightly deeper of 11.2 yards. Again he was responsible for the second-highest percentage of deep yardage for the Rams at 29.86% but was behind Brandin Cooks this season following Watkins’s departure.
Woods kept his positive differential in the yards after catch area, but the average dropped a hair to 5.3 yards in 2018. Nothing to be concerned about as the yardage was still much higher than his days in Buffalo. The 2018 season marked the first time Woods did not rank in the top 20 receivers in OSM, but his contributions to the team did help Los Angeles in their Super Bowl run which was spoiled by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
A career-high OSM score for the 2019 season
Woods turned it up a notch in the 2019 season. During his third season with the Rams, he earned an OSM score of 36.39, the highest of his career. He also turned in his second and consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season as well. Woods saw career-highs in targets, 139, and receptions, 90, earning 1134 yards but only found the endzone twice.
His separation reached its highest mark since his days in Buffalo at 3.4 yards, the third-highest among wide receivers in 2019. He was not targeted as deeply downfield as in the past as his average dropped 3 yards from 2018 to 8.1 yards. However, he was still responsible for 23.69% of the Rams’ deep yardage, the highest percentage on the team.
Woods set his highest marks in yards after the catch in 2019 as well. He found 6.7 YAC per reception, the seventh-highest among receivers, and more than a yard more than his mark set in 2017. His YAC/R differential was at its highest as Woods found .6 yards more than expected. While Woods had a great year, the Rams took a tumble just one season removed from their super bowl appearance. With the 2020 season approaching, Woods finds himself in a great position to continue his upward trend.
Los Angeles traded Cooks and a 2020 fourth-round pick for the Houston Texans 2020 second-round pick on April 10th. The trade moves Woods into the role of the primary outside receiver as WR Cooper Kupp does most of his damage out of the slot. Couple this with the departure of Todd Gurley as well, and the duo of Woods and Kupp could become the focal point of the Rams offense.
Woods was ranked as the ninth overall WR according to PFN’s OSM in 2019. If his consistency and growth continue, it will be exciting to see just how far up the list “Bobby Trees” can climb.