The Case for Eric Ebron Part 2: Film Review

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Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

(To do my film review I watched every target Ebron had last year and four complete games( NYJ, TB, ARI, and NE). I choose these games because they represent his two best and worst performances based off the Pro Football Focus grading scale.)

Route Running

The first thing you notice when watching Eric Ebron on tape is how much more athletic he is than the other Detroit Lions tight ends. It really shows how fast and fluid he is for the position. He represents a matchup nightmare for defenses, he very rarely was covered by linebackers, opposing teams preferred to cover him with safeties or big cornerbacks. Even then he had the speed and quickness to outrun these smaller defenders and gain separation.

Play Action Fake

Plays like the one above are how Eric Ebron got the majority of his yardage last season. They sold hard with the play direction and commit all of their blockers to the run, only to throw a screen pass on the backside to Ebron. This is very good play design, Stafford and the offensive lineman do a great job selling the fake and Ebron gets an easy 10 yard gain. He gathers himself and gets up field quickly, you would like to see him break that arm tackle to gain some extra yards after the catch but its still a successful play.

If you were to just watch his targets you would think Ebron is a limited route runner, a lot of his plays look very similar to this one, but if you watch the full games you will find some great routes hidden in the tape that Stafford didn’t exploit. He ran a large amount of high level out and in routes, and can sink his hips to change direction with the quickness of a player 3o pounds lighter.

Option Route Vine

In the Vine above, there are two very well ran out routes. His quickness out of his break and ability to cut off his route and burst to open field is very impressive. These routes are Eric Ebron’s bread and butter, he can use his explosiveness and body positioning to gain separation and then box the defender out from making a play on the ball with his massive frame. He also shows some very good mental processing on these option routes, he reads the defenders body positioning and determines his route accordingly (If the defender is cheating inside, he runs outside and vice versa). He consistently ran the correct route on these plays and should be even more adept at it with another year of experience. Expect to see a lot of similar plays next year in short yardage situations as there are very few people in the NFL who can cover him on this route.

Deep Out Vine

This is another impressive route where he gains instant separation with a sharp cut towards the sideline. He runs a hard aggressive stem that pressures that cushion of the covering safety and drops his hips to change direction sharply. He then adjusts to a poorly thrown ball and secures the catch for a key fourth down conversion. This is another very hard play for the defender to cover, he gets instant separation out of his break and gives Matthew Stafford a great window to throw too.

Seam Route

This route right here is one of the main reasons the Detroit Lions picked Eric Ebron. His speed up the seam is almost impossible to match, he blows right by Patrick Chung and has a couple steps on him before Stafford decides to throw to Corey Fuller and get an easy completion. Stafford was hesitant to test Ebron deep and missed him breaking downfield a number of times last season. If Stafford trusts Ebron a little more next season we can hope to see some more big plays from Ebron next year.

Overall, Eric Ebron is an impressive route runner but wasn’t asked to run a lot of different routes. We knew coming out of college he was a raw prospect so this shouldn’t of been a surprise to anyone. He has already shown great improvement in this area and has the athletic ability to run any route necessary. His routes looked much crisper as the season progressed and he showed the ability to gain separation in a number of different ways.

Next: Ability at the Line of Scrimmage