When the Detroit Lions were on the clock during the 2014 NFL Draft, many assumed the team would select a defensive player such as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Darqueze Dennard. Despite these assumptions, Lions GM Martin Mayhew selected former North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron with the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft.
While Ebron will not help the Lions solve their defensive woes, he certainly adds an interesting element to an already formidable offense. The acquisition of Ebron gives quarterback Matthew Stafford yet another offensive weapon. He joins arguably the best wide receiver in football in Calvin Johnson, former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate and another athletic tight end in Brandon Pettigrew.
Ebron, who stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 245 pounds, represents a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. During his time at North Carolina, Ebron recorded 112 receptions, 1,805 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. These numbers are solid, but do not represent how rare of a talent Ebron is at the tight end position.
At the NFL combine, Ebron recorded a 4.56 40-yard dash time and also a 32-inch vertical leap. His combination of speed, size and athleticism draws comparisons to elite San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. With plenty of surrounding talent and a near-elite signal caller throwing passes his way, do not be surprised if Ebron puts up comparable numbers to Davis in the near if not immediate future.
While chances are that Ebron will be the No. 1 tight end on the Lions’ depth chart come September, he will still have to earn his spot. He will compete with incumbent top tight end Pettigrew as well as Joseph Fauria and Michael Williams for this role in the Lions’ offense.
Ebron will need to improve his blocking to become a “true” NFL tight end and not solely a wide receiver lining up at the position. However, his impressive hands and ability to gain yards after the catch will force the Lions to put him on the field regularly. Expect Ebron to make an already intimidating Detroit offense even more difficult to prepare for while putting up impressive rookie statistics in the process.