Pro Football Focus confirmed on Friday what Cardinals fans have long known: Larry Fitzgerald’s hands are peerless.
Fitzgerald has remained one of the NFL’s elite receivers into his mid-30s because of his preternatural ability to haul in nearly every catchable ball thrown his way. Fitzgerald has a drop rate of a miniscule 2.69 percent since 2013, which is the best in the NFL.
The Saints’ Michael Thomas is second at 2.97 percent, followed by the Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin at 3.20 percent, the Cowboys’ Cole Beasley at 3.63 percent and veteran Jeremy Maclin at 3.76 percent. The NFL average, meanwhile, is 7.5 percent.
Fitzgerald had a statistical lull from 2012-2014, but he has proven that was no fault of his own. Fitzgerald has caught at least 107 passes in each of the past three seasons and has averaged 1,131 receiving yards per year in that span.
Fitzgerald’s ability to snag the ball has always been elite, but in recent years Carson Palmer and Co. have done a better job of getting it into his catching radius. Fitzgerald’s catch rate the past three years has been 75.2 percent, 71.3 percent and 67.7 percent on all passes thrown to him. His previous high was 63.4 percent in 2009. New quarterback Sam Bradford is known for his accuracy, so the trend could continue.
Fitzgerald, who will be 35 in August, is the oldest receiver in the NFL but has the type of skillset that ages gracefully. He seems to be in line for another stellar season in 2018, led by those soft mitts.