The Detroit Lions selected Eric Ebron with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and upon hearing of this selection, I must admit that I was VERY disappointed in Detroit’s choice. I mean, did the Lions really need another TE? They just resigned Brandon Pettigrew to a $16 million contract and Joe Fauria has shown he can be a player maker, so why draft another end? In fact, I was so convinced the Lions wouldn’t draft a tight end this year, that I didn’t take a strong look at any of them.
As I watched Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans come off the board I assumed that Mayhew would trade down to bolster their defense by taking a corner (Darqueze Dennard) or defensive tackle (Aaron Donald), but that never happend. Instead, they took Eric Ebron and I was left thinking ‘same old Lions.’
I was mad, but somehow convinced that Mayhew had to be smarter than me, and that he must know something I don’t. I started researching Eric Ebron and instantly realized that Mayhew did know something I didn’t. He knew that Eric Ebron wasn’t a tight end at all, but a versatile receiver, perhaps best used in the slot.
Ebron, hails from the University of North Carolina where he played tight end and broke Vernon Davis’ ACC record for yardage. His strengths are in route running, catching the ball away from his body, and exceptional speed. His weaknesses are blocking and his smaller muscle mass for the TE position.
So, if he’s fast, great at catching the ball, but struggles with blocking, I see no reason to actually put him on the offensive line in the tight end position. I say put him in the slot and give Matthew Stafford another weapon.
Another TE turned slot receiver comes to mind when I think of Ebron, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham. Graham considers himself a receiver and is in fact going through a process to have his classification changed from tight end to receiver so that can use his franchise tag to be paid as such. And now that Joe Lombardi, who came from New Orleans, is Lions new offensive coordinator it seems obvious that Ebron will be used in much the same way as Graham.
I must admit that though my initial reaction to the pick may have been one of anger and fear that the Lions had slipped back into the Matt Millen era, I now see that Detroit has picked up a great receiving threat that was given the wrong job title.