If first impressions are supposed to mean a lot, then Detroit Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron has not made the first impression that Lions fans are hoping to see this season. From back to his college days at North Carolina, Ebron’s inability to hold onto the football is a big concern heading into the start of the 2014 season.
With the Tar Heels, where he earned the distinction as the top tight end in the country, Ebron had an 11.4 percent drop rate as a junior last season, according to Rotoworld. Any rookie receiver like Ebron is expected to have growing pains upon reaching the NFL, but the fact that he has had several drops already in both OTAs and in training camp isn’t a good sign heading towards the regular season.
The Lions have big expectations for Ebron this season, even as a rookie. He is expected to be the next Jimmy Graham in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi‘s offense, a player who can line up anywhere on the field and cause mismatches for opposing defenses, but he won’t be lining up anywhere on the field if he can’t fix his issues. This criticism might be a bit premature especially in the first week of training camp for most other players, let alone rookies, but for Ebron, the No. 10 overall pick and a controversial pick to most, he isn’t afforded the same leeway that most others are afforded.
All of the Lions receivers, not just Ebron, have had a propensity to drop passes in the past few seasons. Calvin Johnson, the best receiver in the NFL, was ranked in the top-10 in drops in 2012 and had some crucial drops late in the 2013 season. The tight ends before Ebron also have had their share of problems, recording 55 drops from 2009-13 (13 more than the next closest team). In fact, Detroit also had the worst drop rate of any team at 7.1 last season.
Detroit fans will have to hope that Ebron will erase his penchant for dropping passes sooner rather than later, or else the word bust will come up just like it has with other Lions receivers in the past. Fans also don’t want to see Brandon Pettigrew back in the starting lineup, or see 2013 undrafted free agent Joseph Fauria outperform Ebron.