Even with the addition of Tyler Kroft, the Buffalo Bills were woefully thin at the tight end position. To help remedy this before the draft, they signed former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jake Fisher. You know, offensive tackle Jake Fisher. Apparently ready for a switch, Fisher has dropped down to 285 lbs and is ready to run routes. There’s very little NFL tape on Fisher in the receiving department but, what the heck, let’s take a look anyway.
From the look of things, this play is drawn up just for Fisher. The second blocker to pick up the assignment Fisher vacates is well-timed. There’s nothing spectacular about the route or speed but Fisher stays in stride despite twisting to look for the ball. This is his first and best foray into the world of receiving. It also answers the question of how one would go about tackling someone this large.
The clip pretty much speaks for itself. It’s a little less likely that Fisher can direct Jerry Hughes out of way like Play 1. Luckily for Fisher, Hughes doesn’t attack. The pass is a little low, but it’s one you’d want a tight end to come up with. Nigel Bradham is there to clean up regardless, but a small gain is better than none. Oh yeah, Bradham will get another shot at chasing Fisher before we’re done.
The Bengals weren’t shy about using Jake Fisher as an extra lineman and eligible receiver. Mostly it was to block, but occasionally they’d let him run a route. The defense is surprised initially and an earlier throw is a touchdown. By the time it arrives, it’s a jump ball and Jake Fisher isn’t quite ready to win it. This wasn’t an interception, but it should have been.
Here’s Fisher again as an extra lineman. He has the luxury of knowing the play call and drives his man to the inside to open up the edge. Fisher leans in close and gets his body and arms low. This allows him to handily win. If you’re going to watch a clip more than once, this is my recommended one. Fisher uses this technique to devastating advantage on a regular basis.
This play occurred directly after the last one. The Bengals featured Fisher heavily as an extra lineman in this game, potentially to set up this play. Another quick grab at the line and off Fisher goes. If you were to draw up a catch opportunity for an offensive tackle, this likely isn’t it. The high throw is fine here as it allows the ball to clear the defender. Fisher elevates and not only gets a hand on it but pulls it to his chest. He doesn’t seem used to securing as he falls and the ball pops out. All told though, this is a heck of a try.
This is essentially the same thing as Play 1, but the compressed field means there’s someone closer to Fisher at the top of the route. He does a good job boxing out and this should have been a touchdown. The pass is uncatchable though.
The prior plays were all in the 2015 season. His sixth and final target shown here was in 2016. Fisher not only sells the block on Bradham but actually blocks him before heading out for the pass. Bradham catches on and chases after Fisher. A well-timed punch dislodges the ball.
Remember the clip I recommended looking at closely? Here’s a view of a similar block with a slightly better angle. The close contact allows excellent leverage. He initiates with his shoulder at the same time as his hands. That and hand positioning mean extending his arms can do...well, this. An off-balance opponent is no match.
Fisher wasn’t perfect by any means at left tackle, but this is a pretty representative look. He’s using some hand fighting and delays his man but it isn’t a universal victory.
Sometimes a lineman will let the defender by quickly so they can get to the second level and block. That doesn’t appear to be the case here as Fisher twists in a fruitless attempt to slow down J.J. Watt. This also puts him in poor position for the second block. Fisher seemed to struggle with swims, rips and sidesteps, which might be a reason he never broke the starting lineup with the Bengals.
There sadly isn’t enough NFL footage of Jake Fisher as a tight end to give definitive answers, but from the six targets he’s seen there’s enough to understand why he’s trying to make the position switch. Hopefully the weight drop will increase speed and agility but fans would be wise to temper expectations. Though he’s down to 285 he was on the lighter side for a tackle at 305. And he’s still 20-30 lbs heavier than many tight ends.
Fisher could still carve out a spot on the team as he may have a legitimate claim to be the best blocking tight end in the NFL. It was hard not to make highlight-reel content of plays like number eight above. Even with opponents paying attention, there’s been plenty of times Fisher leveled people. He wasn’t a complete lineman, but that shove is something else.