AFI’s All-Europe Team: Tight End – Adria Botella Moreno, Hamburg Sea Devils

A good tight end can be the perfect dichotomy: the ultimate safety blanket for your quarterback and an utter nightmare for the defense.

Even at the highest levels of football, there aren’t enough of these unique athletes around. There is only a finite number of people on earth with athletic talent to run like a gazelle at 250 pounds, block like an offensive lineman and catch passes like a wide receiver. In the era of spread offenses, the tight end is simply an afterthought on many teams.

Not so in Hamburg, where they rode Adria Botella Moreno all the way to the European League of Football championship game.

The 28-year-old Spaniard may have been the best kept secret on the continent when he entered this season. First cutting his teeth with the three-time Spanish champion L’Hospitalet Pioners, he spent four years at the University of Sioux Falls as a defensive end before returning to Europe with the Allgäu Comets German Football League), Søllerød Gold Diggers (Danish Nationalligaen), and Pioners again, this time in the Spanish second division.

After posting 59 catches for 750 yards and six touchdowns in the Sea Devils’ inaugural campaign, it is safe to say that everyone has been put on notice. At 6’5″ and 250 pounds, Botella Moreno provided quarterback Jadrian Clark with a type of weapon that had no real comparable anywhere else in the league — or even in Europe.

“Adria is a really special player. He’s got a natural feel for how to get open and is great at separating from defenders. Also, his catch radius is ridiculous and his ability to make guys miss or bang off of them after the catch is truly rare for a big guy,” Clark said. “I think the real secret to his ability to make so many plays is his confidence, crazy work ethic and his football smarts.”

When a player of Botella Moreno’s size comes barreling through the secondary, defensive backs make business decisions to preserve their own bodies. Teams are making business decisions too, as the dynamic tight end has a shiny new contract with the Vienna Vikings next season as that team attempts to compete for the ELF crown in their first season.

With Botella Moreno on their side, anything is possible.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.