With a fairly strict rotation on the defensive line limiting players to roughly two-thirds of play time, depth players in these positions maintain a significant presence. Lining up almost exclusively at right defensive end, Eddie Yarbrough backs up the one-and-only Jerry Hughes on game days. For most of the year, Yarbrough didn’t have competition for his spot, but late-season experiments brought Mike Love into the mix. As we dive into the 2019 free agents, let’s check in on Eddie Yarbrough to see if he fits into 2019 plan for the Buffalo Bills.
At his very best, Eddie Yarbrough is a physical presence. A battered and disoriented Riley Reiff buys into Yarbrough’s early moves and fails to set his feet. The result is a nice look at the clouds from his newfound position on the turf. Don’t expect Yarbrough to dominate in the strength department on the regular, but if you give him an opening he will run through it.
At about 260 lbs, Yarbrough is still smaller than your typical lineman (as are most defensive ends for the record). Power moves always need an element of technique. Yarbrough is good about setting up low when hitting the man across from him to maximize leverage. It’s pretty textbook for this play and at the end he pops up underneath Ronnie Stanley’s armpit, which forces his shoulder up, allowing Yarbrough to move Stanley around.
Lamar Jackson has come onto the field and Eddie Yarbrough is ready for it. I’m a big fan of subtle, last-second moves and Yarbrough shows a couple nice ones to get the tackle. His left foot takes a wide step then pops up as he turns his shoulders to avoid contact. While he’s making that movement, he begins turning as he anticipates the run. The quick change of direction allows him to stretch for the take down.
While Eddie Yarbrough’s overall body control is good, his hands and finesse skills could use some work. The initial swipe to clear the hands is effective and, more importantly, extremely fast (the clip slows to half speed for the swipe). However, Yarbrough’s momentum suffers and he isn’t ready for the change in balance when the Stanley’s hands pop off. As a second-year player, there’s no reason to expect complete refinement. Yarbrough shows flashes of hand-fighting prowess but still has work to do.
Here’s another example of things going mostly right for Yarbrough with his hand work. Sometimes the bigger man is gonna push you around, which happens here. Locked up, Stanley is getting the better of Yarbrough. Until the punch dislodges Stanley’s left hand. Also important is that Yarbrough jerks his left shoulder at the same time, letting his body naturally shift to a position to circle around the tackle.
In a game where speed often decides the outcome, a slow-burn win only looks good on paper. Yarbrough knows this quite well, though, and has a habit of what we see here. Eyes on the quarterback, he sees the arm cock back and times a jump pretty well.
This was my favorite play out of Yarbrough, and not because of the way he and Jerry Hughes made Tom Brady resemble a pinball (though, obviously, that doesn’t hurt). Left tackle Trent Brown leans in and locks up with Yarbrough, but then Yarbrough pulls off a move that’s more common in the realm of Judo than the NFL. Yarbrough yanks Brown toward him, upsetting his balance forward. Yarbrough steps around Brown and gets a quarterback hit.
Eddie Yarbrough is a skilled ukulele player, which has absolutely nothing to do with his ability to play defensive end. The ukulele is a criminally underrated instrument, though, and it’s worth your time to click this link here to check out Eddie performing.
Back to football, Yarbrough isn’t a complete defensive end, and relies heavily on power-based moves to get the job done. While his hand-fighting techniques have improved, other finesse-based skills like swim and rip moves would be good to introduce on a more regular basis. Yarbrough is a very good player for the Bills with their reliance on rotating along the defensive line. With some murkiness surrounding all of the names ahead of him on the depth chart, Yarbrough is a steady player with room to grow who the Bills would be wise to try to keep.
Here’s some more ukulele.