The frenetic pace of the first few days of free agency has finally fizzled (6 "F" words in the first sentence, not bad). Oops, sorry Phrozen, let me rewrite that: The phrenetic pace of the phirst phew days of phree agency has phinally phizzled. There, that's better. I swear I'm not drunk. Let's continue.
There will be a few value signings here and there as free agency lingers on, as only mid-tier and aging veterans remain for the most part. But the "meat and potatoes" have certainly passed us. A few OL holes and depth are still possible in the future, yet the silver lining of these moves is that it has allowed us to be more flexible in who we draft at #19 and, generally-speaking, throughout the draft. RB and OL are most definitely in play, albeit RB is very unlikely at #19. TE is another position of consideration. Charles Clay had a breakout year last year, and after I saw this play against the Steelers live in Pittsburgh, he will hold a dear place in my heart forever. Nonetheless, it's a position we could easily address - not to replace Clay, but to complement him.
Two TE's stick out to me in this draft class: Jace Amaro from Texas Tech, and Eric Ebron from North Carolina. Austin Seferian-Jenkins deserves an honorable mention, and Troy Niklas a "shout-out". But by my estimation, Ebron and Amaro are the cream of the crop. To be honest, I would be happy with either of them. I wanted to break them down a little further and encourage a debate about who we would prefer in aqua and orange. I'll take measurables, production, a video for each to get a little "game film", and character into consideration, and I will let all of us be the judge. I'm curious what you have to say! Let's dig deeper...
- Will be 21 when the draft starts, and almost a full year younger than Amaro.
- 6'4", 250. 33 1/4" arm length, 10" hands.
- 4.6 40, 24 on the bench press, 32" vertical, 120" broad jump.
- His Pro Day is March 25th, and will have the opportunity to improve his numbers from the Combine.
- Will be 21 when the draft starts, but will turn 22 in June.
- 6'5", 265. 34" arm length, 9" hands.
- 4.74 (Combine), 4.68 (Pro Day) on the 40, 28 reps on the bench press, 33" (Combine) and 33.5" (Pro Day) on the vertical, 118" broad jump. He participated in the other drills at the Combine, Ebron didn't, so I did not use other measurable drills (e.g. 3-cone drill) as a basis of comparison.
- He had his Pro Day on March 14th.
2012: 40 receptions, 625 yards, 4 TD's. 2013: 62 receptions, 973 yards, 3 TD's. I couldn't find a specific total of YAC, but I saw this, which indicates he averaged 8.84 YAC per catch. Almost 3 full yards more than Amaro.
2012: 25 receptions, 409 yards, 4 TD's. 2013: 106 receptions (3rd FBS all-time for TE), 1.352 yards (1st FBS all-time for TE), 7 TD's. He was 2nd in the Big-12 in YAC, with 567.
The knock against Amaro's production was the sheer number of times Texas Tech throws the ball (714 pass attempts vs. UNC's 453), and it certainly convolutes the stats. I decided to compare them, adjusting the weights so the stats would reflect what would happen if each team threw an equal amount. Here's what I got:
Amaro, obviously, stays the same: 106 receptions, 1,352 yards, 7 TD's. Ebron's new totals for 2013 would be 97.7 catches, 1,533 yards, 4.72 TD's. Adjusting the weights, Ebron trumps Amaro in yardage, but Amaro wins in receptions and TD's. I thought about including accolades like 1st team All-American and such, but I ultimately deemed them to be irrelevant in regards to the debate.
I'll admit that highlight reels are not the best indicator of "game film", which is why I'm putting it in parenthesis. It fails to show pre-snap movements, defensive alignments, and reads, but we CAN take a few things away from the videos. And to be perfectly transparent, I watched dozens of videos of each player to make my assessments - they are not necessarily derived from the videos posted above. You are big boys, you know how to youtube :)!
Similarities: Both are willing and able to go over the middle, fight for contested passes, and take hits. They attack the seam with confidence. Both are sure-handed, extend for catches, have wide catch radii (never thought I'd have the opportunity to use that word in a FanPost! Radii, SMH). Both players were first-reads for the QB in terms of hot routes when the blitz was coming. They were split out wide more often than being in-line, essentially, they are both glorified receivers.
Differences: There's a lot, so I will try to break it down even further.
- Quickness and agility: Ebron is definitely quicker. He has the capability to go east and west much more nimbly than Amaro, who is more of a straight-line runner after the catch. Big advantage: Ebron.
- Jump balls: Both athletes have good vertical jumps and can go up and get the ball. I give the slight edge to Amaro, however, because he shields defenders with his body position a majority of the time. Amaro has a basketball background like Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates. Amaro is slightly better at the "jump ball", although both are equally courageous in sacrificing their body to go up and get it. Slight advantage: Amaro.
- Red Zone: Some players simply have a knack for finding the end zone, and Amaro gets the nod on this. He is the kind of player who can get wrapped up at the 4 and instinctively knows where the goal line is to stretch his body out and get the score. Ebron gets his scores from being a threat in the open field, and getting blocks down the field. Amaro has a high IQ in the red zone. Slight advantage: Amaro.
- WOW factor: Ebron has made several one-handed and circus catches, while Amaro hasn't. Amaro is more adept at getting the low balls, where receivers essentially fall to the ground and wait for the ball to get there. I haven't seen Ebron do this. But in terms of plays, where you say, "How the hell did he catch that?" Ebron has the advantage. In the open field, Ebron is lethal. Amaro makes things happen, but again, he is a north/south kind of guy. Moderate advantage: Ebron.
- Blocking: These guys are TE's and it will be essential at the next level to improve their blocking abilities if they want to be full-time starters in the NFL. Both have much work to do. When asked to block, both are willing blockers, but they simply weren't asked to do it very much. Amaro has the edge, though. His frame can absorb more weight, and even shows a bit of nastiness (he got thrown out of a game for punching a player after a post-block altercation..more on this later). Amaro doesn't just go for a block, he goes for the kill. Neither match up remotely against NFL DE's, but Ebron was man-handled at times, allowing plays to get blown up in the backfield (RB) or allowing sacks to happen (QB). Ebron has more work to do. Moderate advantage: Amaro.
- Route running: Ebron is more fluid, and Amaro a little more stiff. However, Ebron relies on his athleticism to get separation, and Amaro uses football IQ to set up the route. At the line of scrimmage, Amaro gets off his defenders easier in a developing route than Ebron. If there is cushion at the line of scrimmage, Ebron will exploit it more, but rarely in the NFL do TE's get a "free pass" at the line of scrimmage - the slight upper-hand goes to Amaro, he is simply stronger and more adept at getting off the jam. In space, Ebron sets it up better with his athleticism. No advantage.
I'm not aware of any character concerns on Ebron's behalf. He will have the advantage over Amaro in this regard, and that could ultimately be the deciding factor with the Dolphins who are a little more sensitive about character concerns than other teams (I won't spell it for you, you know what I'm talking about). As a 19 year-old, Amaro used a fake ID and a teammate's credit card (which, by the report, he was unauthorized to do) to try and buy alcohol at a bar. Teams during the interview process will undoubtedly ask about the incident and determine whether it was a young kid who made a stupid mistake, or something that is worthy of a red flag. He also was ejected in the game against Minnesota as a sophomore for punching a player after a post-block altercation. In his defense, it looked like the ref missed the initial shot he took, and caught the retaliation. But isn't that always the case? Needless to say, character concerns reflect more poorly on Amaro. He has remained incident-free in both regards since the altercations took place, but he does have a "record" of sorts.
Ultimately, this is a close call, much closer by my estimation than draft pundits are suggesting. Like I said, I would welcome both of them with open arms. But hold a gun to my head, or for a more salient analogy, lock me up in a basement surrounded by well-trained monkeys, and I will tell you I prefer Amaro for these reasons: moderately better blocking, a bigger frame, and more of a red-zone threat. Ebron has amazing athleticism and would be a match-up nightmare, I just consider Amaro more of a complement to Clay's skill set. Ebron does compare favorably to Vernon Davis coming out of college; Amaro, I dare say, compares to Antonio Gates with the basketball background, knack for body position, and similar measurables. Ebron will probably be drafted higher, so Amaro may represent better "value" in regards to where they are slotted to be drafted. In the end, it depends on what the 2 guys up above feel about it. What are YOUR thoughts, fellow Phinsiders? I appreciate any and all feedback and look forward to responding to you. Phins up, rest of the AFC East down! Clink Clink…cheers!