Continuing our look at the 2014 NFL Draft and just who the Buffalo Bills might select with the No. 9 overall pick, we move on to more of a “dark horse” pick. Most teams don’t take tight ends this high unless they think they have a truly elite matchup nightmare. Well the Bills might consider using the pick on North Carolina’s Eric Ebron.
What He Brings:
At 6-foot-4, 245-pounds, Ebron is considered an elite athlete in a loaded tight end class. He’s considered such a high pick because of his ability to create mismatches regardless of where he lines up and his ability to stretch the field.
He has very good feet and speed, described as “gliding” past defenders. Ebron has the ability to be a matchup nightmare a la Jimmy Graham, someone who can not only line up on the LOS but can move to the slot to torture defenses.
He’s still growing into his body at this point and needs work as a blocker, but you don’t draft a tight end in the top ten for his blocking abilities. Ebron would give E.J. Manuel the elite security blanket that quarterbacks covet.
What He Would Do For The Bills:
Not only would he provide an excellent threat stretching the middle of the field, but he would take some pressure off of the still-developing receiving corps the Bills currently possess. Taking some of the heat off of Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods will only help them, giving them a chance to be effective weapons on the outside while Ebron tears up defenses on the interior.
A player like him could also prove to be invaluable in the development of the young Manuel. Giving a young quarterback a security blanket like that, someone who is a reliable receiver who can turn nothing into something, could help Manuel take a leap forward — another huge win for the Bills.
A team with as many holes as the Bills have could (and should) probably wait until the second-round to draft a tight end, especially in a loaded tight end class like this one. But the fact of the matter is that elite players like this are hard to come by, and sometimes you have to have the guts to just go for the guy you think is the best player.
He’s projected to be just outside of the top ten, so the Bills would have to reach for him. But if he pans out it would be a reach well worth the risk.