Eric Ebron, North Carolina (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
The Detroit Lions are always looking for new targets, acquiring former Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate in free agency as a hopeful complementary target to Calvin Johnson. And now, they've added to those ranks with the pick of North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
The new wave of TE production around the league has left teams searching high and low for players who can produce like Ebron. We’re talking about the top talent at this position, with plenty of room to grow. With average speed, Ebron would be a viable NFL prospect because of his size; with 4.6 speed and the post-catch abilities he put on display at North Carolina, he gives off the appearance of a future Pro Bowler.
Strengths: Speed really sets him apart as compared to other tight ends in the 2014 class. Can turn upfield after short-to-intermediate routes but is most dangerous darting into the seam. Even talented slot corners and adept safeties will find it tough to turn and run with him; linebackers can be left in his wake. Improving blocker with a decent amount of experience playing in-line. Better suited to get out into the slot and create mismatches. Can be far more of a red-zone threat than he was in college. Confidence bordering on cockiness, a positive when he can reel it in.
Weaknesses: Dropped nearly 12 percent of the passes thrown his way, an unexpectedly high number that means he’ll leave folks frustrated from time to time. By his own admission, must improve as a run blocker, especially if the team that drafts him wants to use him as a No. 1 tight end. Should be better than he is making grabs in traffic, which could help explain to some extent his very low TD total. Will he be OK with playing a complementary role?
This is a bit high for Ebron, but it shows that the Lions are committed to their passing game, and that they understand the limitations Brandon Pettigrew brings to the offense. The Lions pass more than any other team in the league, and Ebron will certainly get his chances.
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