Detroit Lions rookie tight end, Eric Ebron has yet to play one snap of regular season football at the NFL level. Yet, it is fairly well-known that the former North Carolina Tar Heel has already drawn a comparison to one of the leagues best players at his respective position — New Orleans Saints All Pro, Jimmy Graham.
Ebron however, prefers to be given the opportunity to create his own identity.
While signing autographs at a charity softball game, a young Lions fan attempted to pay Ebron a compliment.
“Yo, man, the next Jimmy Graham,” the teenager said. “You’re the next Jimmy Graham.”
“Nah, man,” Ebron said, shaking his head. “The next Eric Ebron.”
Ebron’s linking to Graham comes as a result of Lions offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi.
Lombardi spent the past seven seasons as an offensive assistant in New Orleans. With Lombardi’s move to the Motor City, came a majority of the Saints playbook.
On the night that the Detroit Lions drafted Ebron tenth overall, coach Lombardi went on record saying that Ebron would fill the role of Graham in the offense, and with such a role comes a lot of plays out of the slot.
While Ebron might not like the comparison to Graham, it would be to his benefit to take notes on the current happenings involving Graham and his contract.
Graham’s contract situation in New Orleans has become a league wide story as of late. The Saints tight end was franchise tagged this offseason, but he’s arguing it should be at receiver and not tight end. He played two-thirds of his snaps in the slot or out wide last year, while hauling in 86 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns.
You may be wondering — what the difference is between being tagged as a wideout or tight end?
Well, the answer is quite simple: $5 million.
Graham would earn $7.035 million this year as a tight end under the franchise tag, but $12.3 million as a receiver.
With an arbitration case set to begin this week, Ebron himself is paying close attention.
Really Interested To See What Happens To Jimmy Graham.
— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) June 18, 2014
While Ebron is his own man, learning what he can by those who came before him isn’t a bad idea.
Especially if he finds himself as a franchise tagged tight end down the road.