According to Next Gen stats, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley gets the most separation from opposing defenders in the NFL when he lines up in the slot.
In the modern NFL, the prototypical wide receiver is tall, with long arms, massive hands and runs a 4.4 forty. So when a 5-8, 180 pound undrafted player leads America’s Team in receptions, it’s certainly noteworthy.
Dallas Cowboys slot receiver Cole Beasley recorded a career-high 75 receptions on 98 targets for 833 yards and five touchdowns in 2016. To give you an idea of just how efficient Beasley was last season, let’s compare him to Cowboys star receiver Dez Bryant. In 13 games, Bryant recorded 50 catches for 796 yards and eight scores.
But Bryant was also targeted 96 times. Just two less times than Beasley! Yet, the diminutive receiver caught 25 more balls. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott joked earlier this season that Beasley is simply always open. According to the Next Gen Stats, when the undrafted player out of SMU in 2012 lines up in the slot, he practically is.
"‘Beasley led all 15 slot receivers in this sample with 3.48 yards of separation on his targets from the slot,” wrote Next Gen stats guru Matt Harmon on NFL.com. “There were times this year, especially in the early going, where Dak Prescott seemed to favor Beasley over all other receivers. The Dallas slot receiver only averaged 6.9 air yards per target, making him a reliable option in the short-to-intermediate passing game for the rookie.”"
Beasley’s footwork, route-running and speed make him nearly unstoppable coming out of the slot. Through the first six games of the season, Cole averaged 5.5 receptions per game and looked to be Prescott’s favorite target. But through the Cowboys final 10 games of the year, Beasley only averaged 4.2 receptions per contest. It appeared opposing defenses started catching on and Prescott began looking elsewhere.
Still, the five-year veteran had a terrific season. There’s no reason to think Beasley’s rapport with Prescott will not continue to grow this offseason. Cole Beasley is a unique offensive weapon. And this Dallas Cowboys coaching staff must look to use him more often as he is, at times, uncoverable.