Oregon Ducks Football: Matchup Nightmare H-Back – Spencer Webb

 

The ink is barely dry on the 2018 Oregon Duck recruiting class, considered by some as the second best class in school history and ranked No. 15 in the country by Herald and News, among others. Included in this 24-man class is a handful of elite prospects, among them Christian Brothers High School (Sacramento, California) tight end Spencer Webb.

Hudl.com

Spencer Webb

Webb, ranked nationally as the No. 8 tight end, brings size and athleticism to a position of need for Oregon. He had 102 receptions for 1,723 yards and 28 touchdowns in high school, including a stellar senior year in which he accrued approximately 60 percent of his total prep production, according to Maxpreps.com.

However, all of this production and promise could have been derailed at an early age due to an uncertain home life, according to Sacramento Bee sports writer Joe Davidson. With Webb’s parents out of the picture, his brother and sister-in-law took him in and helped him navigate the teen years to graduate from high school and move on to big-time Division I college athletics.

TRIANGLE NUMBERS

Webb is a tall rangy prospect with the frame to carry more good weight. A year ago at The Opening Regionals he measured 6-foot-6 and 222 pounds at an officially sanctioned event. A sanctioned event is typically more credible than hearsay or “through the grapevine” measurables, as prospects, coaches, parents, etc. tend to embellish height/weight/speed when talking about a player they have a personal interest in. Furthermore, since this sanctioned event last spring, several media sources have noted Webb’s weight as ranging from 230 pounds to 240 pounds (including Joe Davidson’s article linked above). I have little doubt that he has put on 10-15 pounds in the last year.

Hudl.com

Spencer Webb

Webb was officially clocked in the 40 yard dash at just under 5 seconds (4.98), and his Hudl.com profile lists an unofficial 4.82 time. Speed and shuttle times can vary greatly from one day to another depending on weather conditions and how the athlete feels. You see this phenomenon consistently play out at the NFL level, when athletes are tested at the Draft Combine versus at their school’s Pro Day.

I have not seen any information as to Webb’s arm length or hand size. However, similar-sized athletes Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and Tyler Eifert all possess arm length between 31-34″ on the low end, to 33-3/4 on the high end. Their hand sizes are all between 9-1/8″ to 9-3/4″. It is safe to assume that Spencer Webb would have arm and hand sizes similar to these NFL tight ends.

SKILL SET

Spencer Webb has the size, speed, and athleticism to play a number of positions. Though he is listed as a tight end, his best position in college may very well be H-Back. Webb is a matchup guy, and at H-Back, the Ducks can use him in the backfield or split him out wide to exploit potential matchups as they present themselves based on down and distance, field position, and opposing personnel.

He is too long for outside linebackers (or safeties) to cover coming out of the backfield in the flat or via seam routes down the middle of the field. When he is flexed out wide, he flashes skills to track the ball in the air, and has elite hand/eye coordination.

Big Catch Radius…

In the video above, Webb adjusts to a ball thrown behind him, showing his large catch radius. The terms “wing span” and “catch radius” are not synonymous. If a receiver cannot make adjustments to the pass (whether it is high, low, or behind him), having a 7-foot wingspan becomes rather irrelevant.

Elite Hand & Eye Coordination…

Here Webb demonstrates high level hand-eye coordination as he “wind mills” a one-handed catch in the corner of the endzone.

Highpoints the Ball…

At 6-foot-6 with a nearly 30″ vertical leap and excellent instincts to go up and get the ball at it’s highest point, not many cornerbacks are going to win the matchup shown above. His highlight videos have too many of these plays to count.

Seam Route up the Middle of the Field…

A seam route by a tight end or H-Back stresses a defense. Here Webb catches a quick hitter up the middle and flashes some “wiggle” at the second and third level.

Elite Ball Skills…

Above, Webb demonstrates elite ball skills early in his career, as he one-hands a “Go” route up the sideline during his sophomore year of high school.

He can Locate and Track to Both Sides…

Again, we see Webb tracking and adjusting to a poorly thrown ball. It cannot be overemphasized how difficult this is. He is expecting the pass over his left shoulder and recognizes that it is off target. He then locates, tracks, and catches it over his right shoulder 40-plus yards down the field. This is a demonstration of elite ball skills.

Who He Reminds Me Of…

Zack Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles. Ertz had very similar size, physical ability, and National Recruiting Ranking as Spencer Webb coming out of Monte Vista High School in 2009. It is fair to assume that Webb’s college career could take a similar trajectory to that of the former Stanford star, who has become a very good tight end in the NFL.

playerprofiler.com

Zach Ertz

Other similar NFL tight ends are Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and Tyler Eifert of the Cincinnati Bengals.

ASSESSMENT

Spencer Webb is a big, rangy kid that presents matchup problems for a defense. When he is split wide in the formation against cornerbacks, his size (6-foot-6) and vertical (nearly 30″) is almost impossible to overcome. When he is in tight or lined up in the backfield as an H-back, the intermediate routes in the middle of the field or on the perimeter present problems for a defense because against slower defenders with less natural ball skills.

Webb has elite ability to locate the ball in the air, track it, and make the catch. And he can do this from either side. He has unique ability to adjust to poorly thrown balls. This “catch radius” is nearly as big as his 7-foot wingspan.

youtube.com

Spencer Webb

Additionally, Webb is a physical kid and doesn’t shy away from contact. He is an effective blocker whether lined up at a conventional tight end position, or from the backfield. He can combo block with an offensive tackle, lead block for a running back, or assist on a bubble screen in the flat.

Webb is an elite prospect and easily one of the best prospects in Oregon’s incoming recruiting class. He will not only see the field early, but should have an instant impact. Webb also has the talent to have a very good NFL career after his time in Eugene.

Michael Kelly “ChicoDuck”
Chico, California

Top Photo Credit: KCRA-TV Sacramento

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