Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron will most likely be the team’s third-highest targeted player behind the star wide receiver duo of Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, as new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi figures to have big plans for his dynamic, first-round “joker” TE. But while Ebron has a ridiculous blend of size, speed, and athleticism that makes him a nightmare to cover in the slot, he is a raw player who comes into the league with some holes in his game.
While his route-running could use some cleaning up, that’s a concern for most young pass-catching tight ends. No, Ebron’s biggest concern coming into the draft were his poor hands, as he was one of the most drop-prone draft prospects. According to the Detroit Free Press’s Dave Birkett, Ebron has committed an “inordinate” number of drops so far in training camp, and these drops have “negated” his playmaking ability. Drops were definitely an issue for Ebron at UNC, but his playmaking more than made up for those hiccups. It’s a lot harder to get away with leaving free yards on the table as a rookie in the NFL, though, so let’s hope that Ebron can quickly work on his hands. If drops are a big enough issue, then he could lose targets to Brandon Pettigrew and second-year TE Joe Fauria, but I’m not overly concerned about drops hindering his long-term development.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell isn’t concerned about Ebron’s drops, and he reminded us just how difficult it is to transition to the NFL as a tight end, especially given the pass-catching responsibilities Ebron will have in his first year. TEs have to adjust to the game as blocker and receivers, and many view TEs as actually having to learn two positions in the NFL. Ebron has an awful lot on his plate, but Caldwell wrapped things up nicely for us, “But I think you’re going to see that he’ll just continue to improve, get a little bit better because he does have an unusual skill set.”