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Steelers sign TE Eric Ebron (2 years, $12 M)

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37 minutes ago, FourThreeMafia said:

Beggars can't be choosers.

This is a weak TE draft class and free agent class, and we needed something.  I didnt expect us to get anyone.  IMO, this is primarily in case Vance gets hurt again, we arent left with nothing.

Ebron isn't great, but he isnt terrible.  Mainly just inconsistent, but in a league where TE isnt particularly a deep position, I can think of many worse trios to have than Vance/Ebron/Vannett.

I agree in that he isnt a world beater like the few elites in the league. If i were to rank the top 32 te in the league neither Vance or Ebron would be top 10 but i would most likely have both in the 15-25 range. Not many teams will have 2 of the top 32 at the position, so what just yesterday looked like a pretty glaring hole atleast has a feel of solid starter and depth. Maybe im way off on this but i think there is more than half the teams in the league would take our top 2 te over their current rostered tes.

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I’m in love this this move. Makes me love the Derek Watt signing even more too.

I believe they’re going to be able to get creative (I hope) moving pieces all over the field. Watt acting like a H-Back 3rd TE, Ebron stretching the field and giving Ben more size in the red zone, this will help McDonald in the passing came tremendously! Ben does have a lot of tools to work with this season. If #7 stays healthy I think we will be able to match the intensity the defense brought in 2019.

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Ebron, in his best season, is a 60% pass catcher.  That is with Luck throwing to him.  Compare that to McDonald who is a 70% pass catcher with Ben or Rudolph or Duck throwing the ball.

That is why he is on his 3rd team at 26 years old as a 1st round pick.

It is a very weak TE draft and getting one may not be much of a help now but do not get your hopes up about Ebron.  Great Athlete <> football player

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16 minutes ago, jebrick said:

Ebron, in his best season, is a 60% pass catcher.  That is with Luck throwing to him.  Compare that to McDonald who is a 70% pass catcher with Ben or Rudolph or Duck throwing the ball.

That is why he is on his 3rd team at 26 years old as a 1st round pick.

It is a very weak TE draft and getting one may not be much of a help now but do not get your hopes up about Ebron.  Great Athlete <> football player

I’m not too worried about him as the #2. If(when) Vance gets hurt then I’ll start worrying.

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I just want to set expectations low for him.

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51 minutes ago, jebrick said:

I just want to set expectations low for him.

I feel that. 

I'm just going in thinking he can be an adequate seam stretcher and a nice RZ target. He's got more TDs than our TEs combined since 2014. He's an improvement over what had to have been the worst collection of TE talent I've seen in my Steelers fandom(I barely remember the pre-Heath days). At least Bruener could block lol

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The point of signing Ebron was to give Ben another weapon. We all know he’s not a good blocker...he’s there for taking advantage of mstchups.

As long as his head is on straight there will be a few games where he goes 6-110-1...other games 1-7 and 2 drops.

There is no more AB...the Steelers are going with the thought having a lot of “good” weapons... not just 1 or 2 “elite” ones...and allowing Ben to capitalize on the best matchup.

As of right now, I’m expecting an offensive player picked at 49(maybe even a trade up)...all in an effort to make Bens job easier.

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I really like the idea of Ruiz or Cushenberry if they're available with our first pick. I think having a mobile LG as well as RG will make Ben's life quite a bit easier. The run game improves greatly if we can run power to the left and right. I think it's no coincidence that the games that Finney started at LG our rushing numbers looked as good as they did. Foster just did not have it anymore. He was smart and tough, but he was broken down physically. It also gives me hope that Pouncey is still a pretty good center, because our run game did not look noticeably better when Finney started at center. 

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4 hours ago, AlanFanecaFan said:

The point of signing Ebron was to give Ben another weapon. We all know he’s not a good blocker...he’s there for taking advantage of mstchups.

As long as his head is on straight there will be a few games where he goes 6-110-1...other games 1-7 and 2 drops.

I can get behind this sentiment, TBH.  I am just so old-school that I want to jam a round peg in a square hole.  I want the old-school mauler that can catch pop passes and 8 yard stops.  Those guys are going by the way of the fullback and becoming less and less relevant.  To see this dude being labeled as a TE is almost offensive to my senceabilities, he is a big WR.  With suspect hands at times.   I mean, I get it... more weapons for Ben in this 1-2 year window to win again.  He will drop the meaningless balls at times, and have amazing TD receptions at times.  I guess I feel for the running game a bit... we kill our RBs for having bad games and they have no help at edge blocking, and it just got worse...

5 hours ago, MOSteelers56 said:

He's an improvement over what had to have been the worst collection of TE talent I've seen in my Steelers fandom(I barely remember the pre-Heath days). At least Bruener could block lol

He won't be an upgrade on Vannett if they use him like they tried to use Vannett.  They tried to use Vannett as a blocker/slip off guy, and that clearly did not work.  That guy does not exist in Pittsburgh right now.  Or in the draft... or in most major college football.

But as a big slot that is a mismatch on LB/S, yea.  McDonald is OK as an POA blocker, so I would see more "12" personnel with Ebron on the field as the other slot, but in reality it is 11.  IDK who sits down in this set TBH, but that is another question for another day.  It certainly makes us more multiple and mismatch-y, and as a former OC, I would love to come up with formations to mess with guys.  Add in a 13 package with Chuks/Banner as the 3rd TE, and 23 with Watt as well, and the creative juices are flowing... 

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So, in my quarantine state and bored as heck, I did some film study on our new "tight end."  Best plays, combine results, college tape, etc, etc.

It may be confirmation bias, but to quote Denny Green, "(he) is who I thought (he) was..."

6'4" 245, 4.6... basic route tree, good hands, mismatch nightmare.  Came out of UNC as a "big slot" that needed to work on blocking, and his 6 years in the league have shown that he did not work on that aspect of his game at all.  Of course, maybe the Lions and Colts just didn't ever want him to be a 'real' TE.  I would think that the best way to use him would to be as a big slot and not as a TRUE TE.

Throw him in mockdraftable.com and you see the closest match he gets (other than Ed Dickson in 2010, uhhh) is Brycen Hopkins.  I think that is pretty good.  If you have seen Brycen Hopkins and have been following his rise and now fall in the draft rankings, you see what Ebron brings to the table.  The only difference that I really see is that Hopkins is a better pure receiver, and Ebron has the vet advantage.  Soooo, you are looking at a guy that is NOT an EMOL TE, a move TE, HB or anything that we know as the roles that we see our TEs in the past.

Dude is a big slot receiver.

Now, as a former OC and high school coach, I can see the use of a guy like him.  If you look at his "big play" cutup on NFL.com, you can see some scheming and tendencies involved in both his usage and his game overall.  His MOST EFFECTIVE usage rate is by far as the inside man in either a 2X1 or 2X2 formation.  So, as an offensive weapon, I cannot see any need at all to attach him to the LOS.  We have McDonald/CSW for that.  So, it might be better to see this as more of a WR add than a TE add, if that makes it simpler to understand.  Now, we can run a 2X2 formation where say McDonald is attached on the right with JWash on the outside, and then say JJSS/DJ on the outside left, with Ebron in the slot, standing up, in the slot left.  But, I can see the Steelers love of "10" and "11" formation with us in effect being in 4 wide, with JJSS, DJ, JWash and EE as the WR, with your choice of back in sidecar with Ben.  I could see that formation a lot.  Heck, you could run a true "11" (I guess it would be a 12) with EE and VM on the field in the formation I described above.  Or, go into 13 with one of the Tackles at TE, Vance in wing to that side, and a WR and EE on the other to bring mismatches in.  You can run to the heavy side, and throw to the open side.

Now, what does EE do best?  Corner routes and drags.  Look at his big play clip... most of his TDs are on corner routes.  Big plays are on drags.  One of the basic concepts in passing game football is the SMASH route, the in a twins set, the outside receiver runs a hitch or out, and the inside WR(TE in this case), runs the corner.  It puts the S in a bind, and will create mismatches for sure.  The drag is a good route since he is a big target, and once he gets moving, he is hard to tackle (and loves the hurdle move, BTW).

Another thing that EE does well and that Ben will love is that he works when his route ends.  When Brissett would scramble with the Colts, EE would keep working and get open.  Ben will love this aspect of his game, as he can leap and get big catches.

Negatives?  Obviously, his blocking is bad.  Several plays I saw he was on the goal line and he was stalk blocking as a TE.  Now, that is something smaller WRs are taught since they have no butt.  Just get in the way.  This is how EE blocks.  On goal line.  So, needless to say, this is a part of concern.  Now, he does a good job out of the slot, locking down smaller safeties and corners and keeping them out of the play.  Also, drops.  Now, from what I have seen, they are concentration drops.  Not a big game, not a big part of the game, not a big down.  Just frustrating.  Again, in fairness, IDK how much his coaches drilled this aspect of his game.  We here in Steeler Nation know that TEs are good blockers, but IDK about other franchises.  And again, I am not sure if he was asked to work on his blocking at all.

To wrap it all up, I am happy with the signing and think that he brings something that we do not have on the roster right now and something that Ben will love.  A big WR who can get open and make catches.  I would just caution all of you to rationalize your thoughts.  He is NOT a TE.  He is not a HBack, move TE, Inline TE... he is a big WR.  So, for his contract, that is OK in the WR market.

(Personal note:  I love this part of my job.  I am a film junkie and love breaking down stuff if this is stuff you all want... I can do more of it while I am ETeaching.  I also love conversation, so I am down for this if you guys are.)

If you have any other questions or comments, let me know!!!

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4 hours ago, 3rivers said:

has he learned how to catch yet? 

27 TDs and 283 catches in 5 years.  Vance has 15 TDs and 166 catches in 6 years. 

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I just dont get why people are bashing this move.

I mean, I would get it if it made no sense in some way or we drastically overpaid, but neither are the case.   And I'm certainly not someone who will give the front office a pass for moves I believe are terrible.

However, this is a clear position of need at a position that is pretty weak league-wide, and we didnt pay much to get him.    He is a clear upgrade from what we had in 2019, is a mismatch nightmare for most teams, can stretch the middle of the field, and, if nothing else, provides some insurance for if/when Vance goes down with another injury.

I keep seeing things like "Well, dont get your hopes up about him":    Not necessarily incorrect advice, but I am pretty sure most Steeler fans dont view Ebron as some amazing TE that will catapult our offense.     Ebron has his issues, but is not nearly as bad as some are making him out to be.     He has inconsistent hands and is a guy thats going to let you down at times.     So was Martavis Bryant, but he was still a great asset to our offense when he was on the field.     Ebron can be too.     He can pull coverage away from our outside targets and even help in the run game....not so much with blocking but keeping LBs and safeties off balance on play action.

Bottom line....he is a relatively cheap, short term option that is an easy upgrade from what we had last year and maybe even the last few years.

Im not overly excited about him, but I am optimistic about what he can bring, especially if Ben is healthy.  

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Good write up @FourThreeMafia. We’ve never had a player like Ebron so I’m excited to see how Ben works with him. I wish we had a OC that was a little more creative and better at exploiting mismatches but I’m still excited to see how Ebron looks in a Steelers uniform.

My biggest reason for liking this signing is it takes away from forcing a tight end pick in an underwhelming tight end draft. Ebron will have 10 times more of an impact than anyone we could have drafted and I was very against using 49 on one. 

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6 hours ago, FourThreeMafia said:

I just dont get why people are bashing this move.

I mean, I would get it if it made no sense in some way or we drastically overpaid, but neither are the case.   And I'm certainly not someone who will give the front office a pass for moves I believe are terrible.

However, this is a clear position of need at a position that is pretty weak league-wide, and we didnt pay much to get him.    He is a clear upgrade from what we had in 2019, is a mismatch nightmare for most teams, can stretch the middle of the field, and, if nothing else, provides some insurance for if/when Vance goes down with another injury.

I keep seeing things like "Well, dont get your hopes up about him":    Not necessarily incorrect advice, but I am pretty sure most Steeler fans dont view Ebron as some amazing TE that will catapult our offense.     Ebron has his issues, but is not nearly as bad as some are making him out to be.     He has inconsistent hands and is a guy thats going to let you down at times.     So was Martavis Bryant, but he was still a great asset to our offense when he was on the field.     Ebron can be too.     He can pull coverage away from our outside targets and even help in the run game....not so much with blocking but keeping LBs and safeties off balance on play action.

Bottom line....he is a relatively cheap, short term option that is an easy upgrade from what we had last year and maybe even the last few years.

Im not overly excited about him, but I am optimistic about what he can bring, especially if Ben is healthy.  

 

I hope my writeup did not come out as bashing him.  That was not my intention.  I was actually trying to be neutral....

I wanted to frame the conversation with some film study and in depth scouting.  I don't hate the move at all, I actually like the move knowing that Ben is coming back.  He is going to really help our offense in so many ways.

I am sure once the numbers hit, we will see that this is a Barron type move where we pay him more next year as a kinda prove it deal.  I am OK with that.

3 hours ago, bigben07MVP said:

Good write up @FourThreeMafia. We’ve never had a player like Ebron so I’m excited to see how Ben works with him. I wish we had a OC that was a little more creative and better at exploiting mismatches but I’m still excited to see how Ebron looks in a Steelers uniform.

My biggest reason for liking this signing is it takes away from forcing a tight end pick in an underwhelming tight end draft. Ebron will have 10 times more of an impact than anyone we could have drafted and I was very against using 49 on one. 

I think your second point is WAAAAY understated.  Does not force us into a pick.  Or have to take a TE at all.

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