As promised, I’ve applied my TE research findings to some of this year’s incoming rookie TEs. In order to get up to speed and really make sense of these findings, check out my earlier work here, and here. Up first, North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, whom our very own Matthew Freedman (real name) first profiled here.
This first table is just for reference. Using my database of TEs from 2006-2013, I created three hypothetical TEs. “Top Hit” is the average of the top quarter of successful (Hit) TEs. In other words, the best of the best. “Average Hit” is the average of all TEs in the Hit cohort. “Top Miss” is the average of the top third of unsuccesssful TEs, or the “best of the rest”. I included the hypothetical best of the misses in order to help illustrate where a given player might fall short.
|Name||Ht||Wt||BMI||40 yd||Agility||Explosion||HASS||YPT||TgtPct||Pk||Rookie Age||BestDR|
Let’s take a minute to look at this table, since the Hit values above represent the core of what we’re looking for. In the Height / Weight / BMI columns, you’ll notice no real difference. But in the other athletic measurable areas (40, Agility, Explosion, and HASS), the differences are quite clear. The right half of the table has some college production measurements. A player’s Target Percentage (percent of team passing targets) appears to be a key indicator. Dominator Rating is likewise important, and rookie age is also important. So if you want to just pick out the most important variables, look for:
- Best DR 0.23 or higher
- Rookie Age 23 or younger
- Target Percentage 17% or higher
- HASS 114 or higher
Without further ado, here are Ebron’s comparables.
Eric Ebron Comparables
|Name||Ht||Wt||BMI||40 yd||Agility||Explosion||HASS||YPT||TgtPct||Rookie Age||BestDR|
Because of his very young age, I had to cast a wider net to find comparables for Ebron; as a result, you’ll see a fair bit of variance in his comparables. There are only 8 sub-22 year old rookies in my database, and only one is, so far, in the bust category: Orson Charles. The others, Aaron Hernandez, Ladarius Green, Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Jermichael Finley, and Martellus Bennett, range from moderate to outstanding success. So let’s just say that Ebron’s age is a major factor in my rather high opinion of him.
His DR is a lower than desired, and the most negative comp is Michael Egnew, which I suppose, is also cause for mild concern. On the other hand, Ebron looks a lot like Olsen, Clay, and Marcedes Lewis, too. Here’s a fun exercise: type the number “76” in the search box for the comparables table. That leaves you with just Ebron, and the three composite TEs. He looks pretty good, huh?
Two other tidbits, from the inimitable Bill Connolly at Football Study Hall. There’s some criticism about Ebron’s “hands”; some are concerned about his ability to catch the ball well. Ebron’s catch rate was 64.7% last season. Not amazing, but not bad, either. It’s slightly above the collegiate catch rate for the other TEs in his set of comparables, and in line with what decent NFL TEs do. It’s also worth noting that his catch rate improved 10% from 2012 to 2013, on a higher volume of targets.
The other tidbit is “Target Number”, which denotes where the player ranked in the team’s pass target hierarchy. So “1” is the team’s most-targeted receiver. Ebron was North Carolina’s most targeted receiver last year. The only other players in his list of comps who led their college team in targets? Jordan Reed and Marcedes Lewis.
RotoViz will come out with some rookie TE rankings later this Spring, but for now, I’ll be conducting the Eric Ebron Hype Train. I think he’s a rare talent, with significant potential. His production metrics are solid, and his athletic profile is tantalizingly good. He’ll be a priority target for me in my dynasty rookie drafts. Just how big a priority will depend a bit on where he’s drafted, so stay tuned throughout the offseason. Look for some more rookie TE evaluations this week. Finally, to get started on your own TE research, check out the College Receiver App, and the TE Sim App.