The Detroit Lions are counting on Eric Ebron to be a big-play threat as a rookie, which is what you’d expect out of a top-10 pick, but the former North Carolina Tar Heels tight end is struggling with so much on his plate in the NFL.
Ebron is a versatile receiver who has the ability and skills to line up all over the field for the Lions and the coaches are throwing the playbook at the No. 10 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to see how much and how quickly he can pick up a multitude of roles.
“I’ve been everywhere and that is what’s killing me,” the rookie tight end told the Ross Tucker Football Podcast. “I’m used to either learning the Y or learning the A, which we had at North Carolina. But now it’s the Y, the F, the Z.”
The 6-4, 250-pounder won’t have to do it all with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Ryan Broyles, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria able to help carry the load for the first tight end taken in the recent draft, but it’s also important to note that it may not be the best idea to have Ebron learn three positions before he can learn one.
Plenty of time exists for Ebron to master his versatile role in the Lions offense, and he should be just fine with a crash course during training camp and the preseason, but we should expect to see Ebron go through some growing pains as he attempts to master the Y, F and Z positions and improves as a blocker, which is the area he needs to work on the most.
“Oh I’m going to block some people,” he said. “Coach keeps telling me, ‘Look, here we’re receiving tight ends, but we are going to be good at everything, we’re going to block some people. I was like, ‘Coach, I ain’t got no problem with it … I’ll tear somebody’s head off, but if I get my head torn off I’m comin’ back to you, because you put me in that situation.’”
The Lions already boasted a high-powered offense before adding Ebron, so if he can produce like he and the coaches expect, the Lions may be able to overcome some of their defensive shortcomings and contend for a playoff spot in the NFC.