North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron has been one of the biggest breakout players in college football this season, and he’s certainly improved his NFL draft stock because of it. Coming into the season, Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was considered the runaway favorite to be the first tight end taken, but since he’s caught just 20 passes for 244 yards this year, Ebron could now slide ahead of him because of his superior 599 receiving yards.
Ebron fits the “hybrid” tight end mold, as he’s a bit lighter than most guys at the position and makes his mark almost exclusively as a receiver. He can do a whole lot in the passing game, as he does a great job of getting open and making catches near the sideline, in the open field and in the end zone. He is perfectly capable of lining up from the traditional, hand-in-the-dirt tight end position, but he actually does his best work when he lines up at the slot receiver position.
Ebron is not as talented as a blocker, however. He routinely gets beat when he’s trying to block a defensive lineman. He stands a bit more of a chance when he gets a running start and tries to block a linebacker or a running defender, and he’s leveled a few players in this manner.
When it comes down to it, Ebron is a very talented player and may be the best pure receiver among the tight ends in this draft class. That being said, Seferian-Jenkins is still one of the most complete tight ends to enter the draft in a long while. Regardless of his lack of production this year, Seferian-Jenkins is a superior athlete, blocker, and end zone target, so there’s still a good chance that he’ll beat out Ebron as the first tight end taken. With Ebron’s improvement this year, though, he’s given himself a great shot at being a first-rounder.
- Great at getting open and creating opportunities for big plays
- Very talented at making catches over the middle
- Lots of experience lining up in the slot
- Makes some big blocks at the second level
- Also played defensive end in 2012
- Not a fantastic blocker off the line, seems to put in a good effort but just doesn’t have enough physical strength to make an impact
- At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, not as sturdy as many NFL tight ends
Ebron’s had a fantastic 2013 season, having racked up 35 catches for 599 yards and three touchdowns, which makes him pretty close to eclipsing his 2012 totals. He was particularly impressive in the Tar Heels’ matchup with Miami, as he caught eight passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. If he can continue to outperform Seferian-Jenkins, he’ll have a great shot at being the first tight end taken in the draft.
2014 Draft Projection: First Round