Hello, GangGreenNation! This is my first FanPost and I am very excited to join this awesome group of Jets fans! I have been visiting the GangGreenNation website for quite some time reading the articles but never considered writing my own post until recently.
I have followed football my whole life, and played WR/TE and CB in high school. I do my best to be a student of the game, and I follow the Jets religiously.
To that end, I would like to take a look at a topic that is being fiercely discussed among Jets fans as we approach the upcoming offseason- should we take a TE in the first round, and if so, who?
The two names that are at the top of the TE conversation this year are Jace Amaro and Eric Ebron. I have seen several big boards and mock drafts and there seems to be no consensus as to which of these TE’s is superior. That’s why I have broken down some film on both players below, so you can decide for yourself who the Jets should draft, if either.
I watched every snap from all four of these games, and I have highlighted some of the key plays below the videos. All games from the 2013 season.
All videos courtesy of DCheeseB
Jace Amaro: Texas Tech Red Raiders
6’5" 260 lbs.
2013 stats: 106 catches, 1352 yards, 7 touchdowns
Stats: 8 catches, 119 yards
Opens the game with two effective blocks on the first two plays
Kicks out Eric Striker very well at 2:32, 10:30
Destroys defensive backs at 3:50, 6:05
Bad drop at 12:36
Amaro vs. TCU
Stats: 9 catches, 97 yards
Great job of getting hands inside the frame 3:18
Great hands over the middle at 3:00
Great route, tough catch, big third down conversion at 4:40
The Low Down
Blocking: Although I didn’t get to see him face linebackers and linemen very often (more on that later), Amaro has very good blocking technique. He frequently throws DB’s around, and he is incredible at getting his hands inside the frame and holding his block. Always blocks to the whistle. He will occasionally overrun blocks. Didn’t get to see him line up as a traditional tight end much.
Receiving: Smooth but not sudden, fluid but not crisp. Not afraid to go over the middle. Not a polished route runner. Fights hard after the catch. Uses his size well, boxing out defenders. Some tough catches and some bad drops. Rarely uses his hands, catching with his body on virtually every target. Good acceleration, deceptive speed.
For the most part, I liked what I saw out of Amaro on tape. He was a huge part of Texas Tech’s offense, and he did a good job of carrying the load. He is a high motor player who doesn’t take plays off on the field. His numbers are obviously fantastic, but they should be taken with a grain of salt, especially when comparing him to a player like Ebron. Texas Tech’s offense is extremely pass-happy, and they threw the ball to Amaro a ton.
What I didn’t like out of Amaro was what I didn’t see. In the two games I studied, he was split out as a wide receiver on almost every play. I counted less than fifteen snaps at the traditional TE position from both games combined. I would like to see a player with more experience than that at the TE position if we’re going to take him in the first round. He is not a first round talent as a pure receiver.
The other major problem with Amaro is his hands. He never uses them. He catches the ball with his body virtually every time. Of the 17 catches in these two games, he caught less than 5 with his hands. He did not have a high number of drops, but this a serious concern with a potential first-rounder, and one that the Jets should not overlook.
Eric Ebron: North Carolina Tar Heels
6’4" 245 lbs.
2013 stats: 62 catches, 937 yards, 3 touchdowns
Stats: 5 catches, 121 yards
Overruns block at 9:20
Turns around to watch play and loses block at 9:54 (common theme), does a much better job on the very next play, kicking out a DE despite a tough angle
Stands straight up at 10:34 before engaging
Vs. Cincinati (Belk Bowl)
7 catches, 78 yards
Charges hard and does his job on a pretty difficult assignment at 0:13
Great drag route at 0:32
Great effort, seal block, pancake at 0:43
Great blocks at 1:14 and 1:23 (combo block)
Two bad drops at 1:44 and 2:17
Great route at 2:56, catches with his hands, shows no fear over the middle
Catches high ball with hands and accelerates hard before hurdling two defenders at 4:35
Sick low point catch at 7:16
The Low Down
Blocking: In terms of blocking, these two games are night and day. In the Duke game, Ebron is completely disinterested, stands straight up out of his stance, doesn’t block to the whistle. I was not impressed with any of his blocking. Poor effort and technique. That’s why I was shocked when I turned on the Cincinnati tape. He transforms into a high motor blocker who blocks to the whistle on every single play. He charges out of his stance and shows surprising strength against defensive linemen and linebackers. Grabs players inside the frame and doesn’t let go. Shows good technique on both "seal" blocks and "kick out" blocks.
Receiving: Ebron shows good speed, acceleration, and quickness on every route. He makes good hard cuts, but he is not a polished route runner. Hand fights with defenders too often, instead of working for separation. Catches with his hands. Fearless over the middle. Two tough catches for every drop. Good fight after the catch, often trying to hurdle defenders successfully.
I was ready to completely discount Ebron after watching the Duke tape. He showed a concerning lack of effort, especially in blocking. It was going to take a transcendent performance to convince me he is first-round option, but Ebron delivered. After watching the Cincinnati game, I had to survey more tape to try and discern which game was the rule, and which the exception. After watching tape from Miami and NC State, I am convinced that Duke was an anomaly.
Ebron is an excellent athlete. He nearly broke the 1,000 yard mark despite playing in a run-first offense. He is stronger than he looks. He does not have ideal size for a TE prospect, but he is built a lot like Vernon Davis, and I think he is close to that kind of speed. He is very agile (see the replay of the drop at 2:17) and is just a fantastic athlete. He lined up as traditional TE on most plays, but he can also split out as a WR and make plays. His first instinct is to catch with his hands.
These are two very different players. After watching the film, I think both players come with legitimate risk. I’m not convinced that Amaro is a first-round talent, but he has better size and is a better blocker than Ebron. Ebron certainly has the ceiling to be a first-rounder, but he is a bit small and the Duke game should not just be discounted. He does produce far more "wow" plays than Amaro.
Ebron gets the nod here due to the two major problems I see with Amaro. I would not have any problem with the Jets taking Ebron at 18 if he is the best player on their board.
What do you think?