Ask any tight end is he would consider a 45-reception season a success and they will likely confirm that assessment. After the 2013 season major college debut by Emmanuel Bibbs, every-thing was in place for the Cyclones tight end to emerge among the elite performers at his position, as it was every intention by head coach Paul Rhoads to make his prized transfer student an integral part of the offense.
The best laid plans of mice and men, Bibbs knew that his final season in college might not turn out the way everybody expected. While the staff remained quiet, scouts sensed that there was something wrong with Bibbs during the early stages of the 2014 regular season schedule. After four games, the senior had managed just eleven receptions for 88 yards and one touchdown.
Why the slow start scouts wondered? Bibbs was not struggling to grasp the offense and there was no injury reports coming out of the university to explain his dip in production. The Cyclones will never be considered an offensive juggernaut, but looking to improve on their 2012 season finish of a 3-9 record, not having Bibbs dominate would see the team slip further down the Big Twelve Conference standings, losing ten games on their twelve-game schedule.
Bibbs would not be around to see the final outcome as his season coming to an end two games prior to when the rest of the Cyclones would go home yet again without a post-season appearance. Answers to scouts’ questions began to emerge, coinciding with Bibbs returning to form, at least statistically, but not in the health department.
The player let scouts know during midseason visits that he was battling knee issues all year. Two weeks before the season opener, he quietly underwent meniscus surgery, an injury the coaches preferred to keep quiet from the press. The 2015 Senior Bowl invitee would later suffer more knee damage, coming in the Texas Tech clash, this time, enough to put him on the sidelines for good.
Bibbs would miss the final two games vs. West Virginia and Kansas State, finishing third on the team with 45 receptions for 382 yards (8.49 ypc) and eight touchdowns. His catch totals placed fifth among major college tight ends, leading his position with eight scoring snatches in 2014.
Prior to joining the Iowa State program, Bibbs competed as a wide receiver and linebacker for a Bogan High School football team that finished undefeated in the Chicago Windy City Conference. As a junior, he had 762 receiving yards, posting five games with more than 100 yards receiving for head coach Sam Jones. The three-star recruit did not meet academic requirements to receive a major college scholarship and decided to join the junior college ranks.
Bibbs would then attend Arizona Western Community College. As a freshman, he spent his campaign as the backup to Darwin Rogers. While Rogers got the majority of the snaps, Bibbs came in and impressed during double tight-end sets, and when he had the chance to reel in a catch, he did it, including grabbing a 6-yard scoring toss for his first reception as a Matador, and also snatching three catches for 19 yards in the NJCAA National Championship Game vs. East Mississippi in the 2011 El Toro Bowl. He finished that year catching six passes for 79 yards.
Bibbs received second-team NJCAA All-American honors as a sophomore, catching 22 passes for 230 yards and six touchdowns. He was rated the second-best tight end in the junior college ranks by JC Football.com and ESPN regarded him as the 44th-best overall player in junior college. In his final junior college appearance, vs. Nassau in the 2012 El Toro Bowl, he caught a pass at the Nassau 35-yard line, and weaved through half the Lions’ defense for a highlight-reel touchdown that wound up giving the Matadors the lead for good in their 42-37 victory.
Bibbs’ first season at Iowa State in 2013 saw the tight end start ten of the twelve games that he appeared in. He received the team’s Dury Moss Outstanding Newcomer Award, as he finished second on the team, pulling in 39-of-58 targeted tosses, good for 462 yards (11.85 ypc), reaching the end zone twice.
While his medical exams at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine might be more important than his performance in the agility tests, his troublesome knee injury forced Bibbs a great opportunity to show off his skills before the NFL throng that gathered in Mobile, Alabama for the week-long practices leading up to the 2015 Senior Bowl.
Bibbs has an adequate-sized frame for the classic tight end position, but he is a well-built athlete with an excellent power base, especially if utilized as a “Y” receiver, H-back or motion receiver coming out of the slot. He has a solid build, cut, with above average overall muscle tone and a frame that can carry additional bulk.
Bibbs lacks explosion off the snap, but he shows a quick thrust off the line to challenge defensive backs and keep pressure on the secondary. He is very smooth and efficient in his release, using his long arms and strength to quickly defeat the press, driving hard with his legs to beat the jam. He plays at a good pad level, showing effective quickness driving off the line. He has enough strength to defeat the press and will move quickly once he gains acceleration.
The Cyclones tight end is more of a savvy route runner. He is not going to simply fly past and get behind a defender, but he builds his acceleration steadily and shows good wiggle and moves to make the secondary types bite more often than they should on play action. His patterns are precise with no drift vs. man coverage, with good stem, stick and leverage ability. He does a nice job of using swim moves and a stutter-step to shake off the safeties when working in the short area.
Bibbs has good power and shows urgency, as the Iowa State staff’s patient coaching helped to teach him proper blocking techniques (in the spread, he was not asked to block much in junior college). He gets to the second level with good angle concept to either cut or wall off. When blocking on the down side, he is smart enough to realize it is better to out-power rather than try to finesse. At the line of scrimmage, he does a good job sinking his weight, maintaining a strong anchor to prevent defenders from walking him back into the pocket.
Emmanuel Bibbs NFL Scouting Combine measurables
6-2/258 (4.80 forty)
31 1/4-inch arm length
10 1/4-inch hands
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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