Amba Etta-Tawo Senior / 6’1″ / 208 – Syracuse via Maryland
- 2016: Louisville, UConn, Notre Dame, South Florida, Virginia Tech
The Skinny: Amba Etta-Tawo burst onto the scene in 2016 after not much fanfare while playing at Maryland. He is a crisp route-runner and a dynamic playmaker. The former high school sprinter amassed just 61 receptions for 938 yards and three touchdowns during his three seasons at Maryland. After achieving graduate transfer status Etta-Tawo opted to try and make an impact in the pass heavy ‘Cuse spread.
The translation was instant and cataclysmic to the secondaries of his opponents. Twelve receptions and 210 yards versus Colgate was the early story. However, it was just a cute tale since it came against obviously inferior competition. Then the production continued.
Etta-Tawo is extremely bright when running routes. He finds coverage holes and he is not afraid to sit tight to help his QB out. His drop rate was likely affected by the sheer number of targets he was fed. He loses his share of 50-50 balls but not without a fight. Although he could stand to be more aggressive. With his height he should able to create more separation by extending his arms both off the line and at the top of his stem.
His slender build is a big time concern. Although he displayed an ability to take punishment/big hits well in college and seemingly bounce right back up. He was used outside the hash quite a bit. Rarely attacked the second level. Basically, not too many LBs tackled Etta-Tawo in college. He mostly played the “X” with the Orange but he will need to get stronger to win on the outside in the NFL.
Maybe that Syracuse Orange is slimming but it appears Etta-Tawo has little muscle definition in his legs. He will need to get stronger if he wants to beat press coverage. It would be nice to see some of his elusiveness with the ball in his hands translate to him being a more deceptive route runner.
Fantasy Outlook: Upon joining Syracuse Etta-Tawo became their WR1 or “X” WR. He is at least two years away from being even considered for such a role at the NFL level. As stated before he is rarely seen going over the middle of the field. At this point it’s hard to envision teams giving him slot snaps if he cannot split the safeties. He is very good in the screen game and corner, out and comebacks routes. However, it will not take DBs very long to figure out that they just need to angle him to the boundary and out of bounds.
That brings us to the “Z” or WR2 position. Since Etta-Tawo lined up almost exclusively to the left of the QB in college we are not sure how much of an early impact he make when lined up to QB’s right. Again his lack of middle of the field exposure leaves too many questions. These are all very valid reasons why Etta-Tawo is not getting more early round love. It’s not all bad, it just appears he is more James Jett/Willie Gault like than Will Fuller-esque. Or maybe just think Amba Etta-Tawo as a step up from Ted Ginn. At least early, this how Etta-Tawo can conservatively be viewed.
In an ideal situation, he could have a career path similar to guys like Derrick Mason or Golden Tate. Just know it is going to take some time figure out what exactly he is to an NFL offense.
Philadelphia could use his speed as he could possibly give them what Nelson Agholor could not. He could potentially be a Torrey Smith understudy. They also like to use Jordan Matthews’s muscle as a big slot. Etta-Tawo and his short area burst could offset that nicely. Obviously, if the Eagles retain Alshon Jeffery with a multi-year deal after the 2017 season, Etta-Tawo would have an extremely limited floor.
Places like Oakland and Minnesota currently have a very open competition at WR3. With the Raiders, Etta-Tawo could push Seth Roberts hard for snaps. Eventually, he could have a chance as the WR2 when Michael Crabtree departs. As a member of the Vikings, he would seemingly be blocked by Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. He would also have to contend with the draft pedigree of Laquon Treadwell. The jury is still out Treadwell but Minnesota could benefit from some healthy competition.
In Seattle, he could grow much like Paul Richardson has but hopefully stay healthier. He could try to play the “Z” there in three-wide sets with Tyler Lockett in the slot and Doug Baldwin would hold down the “X.” The Seahawk’s short and side-to-side passing attack could really build any young WR’s confidence level.
Arizona might be the best landing spot assuming they do not take a WR in the earlier rounds. They are in desperate need of a WR who is over six feet tall and under 30 years old. Etta-Tawo will garner some ageist critics as he will turn 24 in November. However with age also comes maturity and remember all the takes here are meant to be very conservative.
Combine: Etta-Tawo definitely held his own at the scouting combine back in February. His 4.49 40-time and 6.95 3-cone were both highly respectable numbers. They were also not surprising considering what he flashed on tape in 2016. He uses his straight line speed on vertical or fade routes. You see that short area quickness shine post-catch as he cuts and slice up defenders.
His 126-inch broad jump was 12th best at the combine among WRs. However, it scored in 83rd percentile historically. If he can keep up that lower leg strength there is hope that the rest of his body will catch up.
His most disappointing drill was his 31-inch vertical jump. That scored in the 7th percentile historically. To be fair he has not shown much vertical dominance on film. This could also explain his issues on those 50-50 balls. He does time his jumps pretty well and when he wins he comes down with his next two moves already thought out.
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