Detroit Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron gives a high-powered offense more flexibility going into the 2014 season, and it will be interesting to see how often new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi uses him in the Jimmy Graham role he’s been hinting at. Before Ebron was drafted, it looked like intriguing second-year TE Joseph Fauria would receive that kind of a role in the offense, but Ebron is better fit for it due to his ridiculous athleticism and size-speed combo. He’s the ideal joker tight end, and there’s no doubt that talented pass-catching TEs are held at a premium. Ebron isn’t much of a blocker, but neither is Graham. With Brandon Pettigrew still on the roster after being re-signed in free agency, the Lions are confident that their twin (well, trio when you count Fauria) tight ends will mesh just fine.
Blocking wasn’t the only concern for Ebron going into the draft, as his drops also raised eyebrows. The former North Carolina Tar Heels star had a high drop rate last season, and that put a damper on his tools. But Ebron is confident that he’ll cut down on those drops, as the tight end stated that he’s been making progress in that department.
Ebron said, via MLive.com’s Justin Rogers, “It’s a work in progress. Not everybody catches every pass. Jerry Rice never caught every pass. It’s just something that you’ve got to work on consistently. I progressed. I went from having a lot of drops my sophomore year to very, very, little drops my junior year. It’s just a continuous work in progress.”
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell also seems confident that Ebron will be able to clean up that part of his game as he develops, and Ebron has apparently been hard at work with the team’s tight ends coach in an effort to work on having more reliable hands. As a whole, the Lions pass-catchers did an awful job of holding into Matthew Stafford’s passes last season, so as his weapons have become more dynamic with the additions of Golden Tate and Ebron, hopefully their hands will also be reliable. We know Tate is an excellent pass-catcher, and we’ll see if Ebron can keep his drops in check as a rookie in order to give him more opportunities to generate the YAC he is capable of posting.