Ben Roethlisberger is going to have a new target to throw to this coming up season. Back in March, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to add to the tight end position and picked up Eric Ebron from free agency. Ebron has been able to provide some serious value to his offensive over the last several years and will look to continue that into 2020.
Ebron, a former first-round draft pick, has spent the last two years of his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts. During that time, he put up some solid yardage as a tight end and provided a hefty amount of value to the Colts offense. Since 2017, Ebron has averaged an overall OSM season grade of nearly 34.00. OSM grades north of 30.00 are considered ‘very good’ on the grading scales.
The Offensive Share Metric (OSM) was created to provide a numerical scale to measure the overall value that an individual player provides to his offensive unit. A player with a higher OSM grade isn’t necessarily a higher skilled player, but they do create more offensive production for their team than a player with a lower OSM.
What were his numbers like in his best season?
2018 was a stellar year for Ebron. By the end of the regular season, he had put up 750 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. He built some real value to his offense by averaging 11.4 yards per reception, commandeering over 22% of the Colts total air yardage, and averaged almost 10 yards downfield per target. His overall OSM grade for 2018 was 33.48 as TE23. This didn’t go unnoticed and he was selected for his first Pro Bowl this year.
2019 tells a little bit different story. Ebron had half the targets as he did the year prior, going from 110 targets in 2018 to only 52 in 2019. But even with half of the amount of looks, he was still able to perform at a high level. His targeted air yardage was roughly the same at 9.4 yards, his catch completion percentage was just shy of 60%, and his average yards per reception actually increased to 12.1 yards. Still providing serious value to his offense, his season OSM grade improved from the prior year to 33.72.
What is Ebron’s outlook in 2020
It looks like the plan is to run a two-tight end set for this season in Pittsburgh. Ebron will be playing alongside Vance McDonald, who has put up some nasty stats recently himself. McDonald averaged 12.2 yards per reception in 2018 and put up a season OSM of 38.98, ranking fifth among tight ends. These two tight ends playing on the same offense could be devastating for the rest of the AFC North. With high skill ceilings for both of these guys, the options that are added to the playbook with them are limitless.
The struggle will be staying healthy. Both McDonald and Ebron have had recent injuries over the last couple of years and neither of them were able to play all 16 games last season. But if both TE’s can stay healthy, and the same goes for Roethlisberger since we’re on the subject, they can change the offense.
Ebron has a real opportunity here with the Steelers offense to get back to that 2018 Pro Bowl level. He’s been massively consistent with his receptions even when his snaps are limited, and should be able to continue that in Pittsburgh. If he can put up yet another season of 33-34 OSM levels on this particular offense, there will be another Pro Bowl for him in the near future.
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