Last week, the Jets addressed concerns about their wide receiver depth by signing veteran wide receiver Chris Hogan. We’re therefore going to take an in-depth look at his film and statistics to assess his strengths and weaknesses.
The 32-year old Hogan, who is listed at 6’1” and 210 pounds, was undrafted out of Monmouth in 2011. However, he has caught over 200 passes in his NFL career, most of which has been spent with the Bills and Patriots. He was with the Panthers last season but caught just eight passes in an injury-plagued season.
Hogan had an unconventional path to the NFL as he originally attended Penn State on a lacrosse scholarship. Having graduated after the 2009 season with a year of eligibility remaining, he opted to transfer to Monmouth where he joined their football program.
Having played various roles in his one year at Monmouth, Hogan started to earn some interest from NFL teams when he put together an impressive pro day workout. However, he went unselected in the 2011 NFL draft and didn’t make his NFL debut until 2013.
Having already spent time with the 49ers, Giants and Dolphins, Hogan had been added to the Bills’ practice squad in 2012 and then activated to the main roster with a couple of weeks to go in the season, although he didn’t play.
He made his debut for the Bills in 2013, catching 10 passes for 83 yards, but broke out with a career-high 41 catches in 2014. He then followed that up with a 36-catch season in 2015 as he started to produce more on the outside rather than just out of the slot.
Hogan joined New England in 2016 and had his best season as New England went on to win the Super Bowl. He posted a career-best 680 yards and was second in the entire NFL in yards-per-catch average as New England used him more as a downfield threat than in the past. He then had a big postseason, and actually ended up with over a thousand yards if you include playoff games, as New England went on to win the Super Bowl.
In 2017, Hogan was well on his way to his most productive season as he had already set a career high with five touchdown catches by week five. However, he ended up missing seven games due to injury and was ultimately held to 34 catches. He played well in the postseason again, though, as New England again reached the Super Bowl but this time lost to the Eagles.
Once again, Hogan was on course for a career year at midseason in 2018. However, his production fell off over the second half as he had a seven-game span where he was held without a catch four times and caught just six passes overall. He ended up with 35 catches but again contributed in the postseason as New England won another Super Bowl.
Hogan left the Patriots to join Carolina last season but spent much of the year on injured reserve. He ended up with just eight catches for 67 yards in seven games and had been without a team since the end of the season.
Let’s move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Hogan brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Although it was almost a decade ago, Hogan put up some impressive athletic numbers at his pro day, during which he weighed in at 221; over 10 pounds heavier than his current listed weight.
During the workout, Hogan ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 36.5-inch vertical and 126-inch broad jump. His agility numbers were also solid, with a 6.75 three-cone drill.
Perhaps most impressively of all, Hogan posted 28 bench press reps, which would have been a combine record for a wide receiver.
As he made his transition from lacrosse to football, Hogan played a variety of positions at Monmouth. While he caught 12 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns, Hogan also threw three touchdown passes, contributed on special teams and recorded 28 tackles and three interceptions at cornerback.
Since coming to the NFL, he’s stayed at the wide receiver position, although he has carried seven times for 30 yards and thrown a couple of passes, including one against the Jets that led to a 31-yard pass interference penalty.
While he’s been considered a possession receiver for most of his career and mostly produced from the slot, Hogan has also played on the outside a lot, although 2015 and 2016 were the only two seasons he had where most of his production came while lined up outside. He did play more outside than slot over the course of his three seasons with New England though.
Generally speaking, Hogan hasn’t been much of a downfield threat although he’s usually good for a handful of downfield plays each season. He was more effective on such plays in 2016 though, where he was behind just DeSean Jackson for the NFL lead in average yards per catch. He averaged just eight yards per catch last season though.
Over the course of his career, an unusually high proportion of his biggest plays have come on blown coverages, with cornerbacks either passing him off to a safety who was out of position or getting fooled by some kind of misdirection.
However, he did show an ability to accelerate past a cornerback when given a clean release.
Hogan’s nickname is “7-11” which refers to the fact that he’s always open. That reputation was called into question in 2018 when his production slipped in the second half of the season though, although detailed analysis seemed to indicate he was getting open but just wasn’t being featured as much.
New England made a concerted effort to get Hogan the ball in the season finale, though, and he had six catches on 11 targets to head into the postseason with some momentum.
As you’d expect, Hogan runs the full route tree and displays good route running techniques, making clean breaks on outside and inside-breaking routes.
However, one of the main reasons behind the perception that he was constantly open, particularly in New England, was that he saw constant single coverage and was able to find a lot of space in zone coverages due to their other weapons.
Hogan has generally had reliable hands as he has never dropped more than five passes in any season (including playoffs), although he’s been targeted 55 or more times in five separate years.
His career catch rate is a solid 64% although it’s been lower than that in each of the past three seasons.
This drop, which led to an interception by his now-teammate Matthias Farley, might have been part of the reason New England started to feature Hogan a lot less in the middle of the 2018 season as the quarterback may have lost faith in him or started to freeze him out.
Hogan is capable of making spectacular catches and, although he doesn’t always catch the ball cleanly, he has good concentration and can make some athletic plays.
In the AFC title game two years ago, Hogan made a spectacular one-handed catch on third down with New England trailing in the fourth quarter. However, replays seemed to show the ball touched the turf as he rolled over and that he didn’t retain control of the ball so he was lucky that one wasn’t overturned. He probably won’t get calls like that now he’s a Jet.
Hogan has 18 touchdowns in regular season action, of which 10 have come from inside the red zone. Two of his four postseason touchdowns were also in the red zone.
Hogan can get quick separation on his routes, find open spots in the end zone and use his size to box out defensive players.
After the catch
Hogan has never been a particularly elusive receiver, but especially not over the past few years. He’s only missed a couple of tackles since 2016, although he can use his strength to fall forward for a few extra yards at the end of play.
He has fumbled three times in his career, including on this play where he failed to anticipate a blindside hit.
While his blocking grades have generally been unspectacular, Hogan does have some good abilities in this area and gets after it with good effort and aggression.
His strength is an asset here and New England does place a priority on blocking for their receivers, including getting them to block linebackers instead of just cornerbacks.
He has had five holding penalties in his career, but generally battles well to try and stay on his block.
As evidenced by his pro day bench press numbers, Hogan has good strength and can use that to his advantage when blocking, running routes or carrying the football. He is good at making contested catches and hanging onto the ball in traffic.
Perhaps his best attribute is how he uses his strength at the catch point to hold off the defensive back but is still able to make a play on the ball. Ironically, despite his reputation, this enables him to make catches when he isn’t open.
He has been called four times for offensive pass interference in his career, though, so he has to be careful not to push off.
Hogan has had various roles on special teams over the years. He has 11 special teams tackles in his career, although most of these came while he was still in Buffalo.
Last year, he got some work as a return man for the first time, recording a 21-yard kickoff return and four punt returns for 20 yards. He’s also contributed as a blocker on the kick return unit and has seen work on the hands unit, recovering one onside kick to ice a Patriots win over the Saints.
Hogan has four special teams penalties in his career, three for taking off too early in kick coverage and one for an illegal block.
Instincts and Intelligence
Hogan has always had good instincts despite the fact he only played one year of college football. His coach at Monmouth said he had a knack of finding a way to get to his spot when running routes and has a good understanding of concepts.
In New England’s Erhardt-Perkins system, it was Hogan’s job to find open spots and he does a good job of reading coverages to achieve this.
He can be guilty of lapses in concentration, as he has had four pre-snap penalties on offense in his career.
Hogan has been praised for his work ethic, notably when his wife gave birth to twins and he made the three-hour drive or traveled by train from Long Island to Patriots practice on a daily basis.
During his time in New England, Hogan also developed into more of a vocal leader and helped mentor some of the younger receivers.
In terms of his on-field discipline, he’s been called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in his career.
Hogan has been a big game player over the course of his career with excellent postseason production in New England. He had a nine-catch, 180 yard game against the Steelers and caught six passes for 128 yards in the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles. That was actually the only playoff loss of Hogan’s career and these two games were the two biggest of his career as he has only had two 100-yard games in regular season action.
In his first eight playoff games, Hogan had elite production with 34 receptions for 542 yards and four touchdowns, but in his final postseason game in the Super Bowl against the Rams, he was held without a catch on six targets even though New England won.
Hogan spent half of last year on injured reserve after his left knee injury required arthroscopic surgery. However, he did return to action at the end of the season.
He also had a shoulder injury in 2017 which caused him to miss seven games. Prior to that he’d only missed one game since the start of the 2013 season.
As a lacrosse player in college, he missed significant time with a high ankle sprain that led to him retaining a year of eligibility after his graduation.
Adam Gase has said he’s confident in Hogan’s ability to pick things up quickly and says that he “knows the system”. However, he hasn’t been coached by any of the offensive coaches before. He seems to be off to a solid start, though, based on camp reports.
The Jets have signed Hogan because of a lack of experience and depth among their outside receiver positions. Hogan is arguably more effective in the slot at this stage of his career, but the Jets already have Jamison Crowder to play that role, Braxton Berrios to back him up and other options among their tight end and running back groups, so it’s on the boundary where they most need Hogan to contribute initially.
Hogan was a teammate of Greg Van Roten last year and Berrios and Conor McDermott when he was in New England.
Hogan isn’t going to be a magic bullet for the Jets and, in an ideal world, they may be hoping a younger player or two steps up and makes him surplus to requirements.
However, in the current situation, it’s a smart move to pick up a player who has been reliable over the course of his career as long as he’s been healthy. He could also bring some advantages in terms of mentoring some of those youngsters.