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Five for 11: Eric Ebron for the Titans

By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com

Continuing our week-long look at five potential possibilities for the Titans at No. 11, in no particular order.

Monday was UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Tuesday was Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

Today we turn to…

North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron

The good: Universally regarded as the best guy at his position in the draft. Very fluid and huge catching range help make him a likely matchup nightmare. Tough with confidence.

The bad: Not as physical as he can be yet with routes and when challenged for the ball. Needs to develop as a blocker. Popular prospect who could easily be gone before No. 11.

Room for him: The Titans have a high-quality tight end in Delanie Walker and a solid blocker in Craig Stevens. But No. 1 Taylor Thompson is on the verge of busting and a Walker-Ebron combination could be a brutal thing to defend.

How ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, sees him fitting with the Titans: “Inline tight ends don't catch passes in Whisenhunt’s offense, but move tight end types do. Ebron is much more of the latter and is a mismatch waiting to happen. But I can't see the Titans landing him unless they were to trade up.”

Positives from our scouting report: Rates as exceptional in separation skills and big play ability. “[He] naturally separates thanks to outstanding movement skills. He shows the initial burst and top-end speed to threaten a defense vertically. He consistently runs past linebackers and also has enough size to box out safeties when ball is in air.”

Negatives from our scouting reports: Rates as below average as a blocker. “Effort as a blocker is inconsistent -- both in-line and in space. When he does give effort, he is capable of establishing good positioning and occasionally shoots hands inside and shows ability to sustain. Does not project as a player with the mindset, strength and toughness to develop into a decent 'Y' in the NFL. Can be an effective move blocker if focus and consistency of effort improves.”

Likelihood in my eyes he’s available at No. 11: Low.

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Anyone expecting big numbers from a rookie tight end are going to be disappointed. It usually doesn't happen. It usually takes 2 or 3 years before tight ends start to make their fantasy impact.

Buying Ebron next offseason from impatient owners is going to be a Shark Move©.

I actually think, in dynasty, the shark move is to buy Ebron somewhere around week 10 or so into the '14 season.

At that time of the year, you are finding two situations. You may be approaching a guy in the playoff race that is looking for a final piece to his season so you might get away with trading off an aging vet.

The other situation is you are approaching a guy that is already out of it and those guys love to think about future draft picks at this point of the season (what else do they have to think about?).

If you wait until the offseason, then you lose leverage because there are those guys out there who think, like a lot of people do about many players at various positions, "I have kept him this long, no harm riding it out" or "We all KNEW it would take a year before a Te made an impact (with Graham being the obvious player to compare).

I think you almost always find your best deals in that last 3rd of the season. Just seems like that is when other owners are more likely to change something up, while the thoughts of going for it or a disappointing season are freshest in their minds.

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Rotoworld:

In a poll of 17 NFL personnel men, all 17 agreed North Carolina's Eric Ebron is this draft's best tight end prospect.

Ebron maxed out at 68 points in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's vote-based "points" system, with Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins second at 37 points, and Texas Tech's Jace Amaro coming in third at 33. Notre Dame's Troy Niklas was a distant fourth with 16 points. Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz ranked fifth with 11 points. Utah's Jake Murphy (3) ranked sixth, and Georgia's Arthur Lynch (2) No. 7.
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One thing we know is that rookie TEs rarely make any kind of significant impact, so from that standpoint it's pretty likely that any WR/RB who show flashes of talent will leapfrog him temporarily next season, as has happened with Eifert and some of the RB/WR this year. OTOH I think a smart owner will be aware of this and resist the temptation to cave, so there's not necessarily any guarantee that you can leave him out there and buy him cheaper a year later.

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One thing we know is that rookie TEs rarely make any kind of significant impact, so from that standpoint it's pretty likely that any WR/RB who show flashes of talent will leapfrog him temporarily next season, as has happened with Eifert and some of the RB/WR this year. OTOH I think a smart owner will be aware of this and resist the temptation to cave, so there's not necessarily any guarantee that you can leave him out there and buy him cheaper a year later.

:goodposting:

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Rotoworld;

Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report considers the Jets, Dolphins, Cardinals, and Packers candidates to trade up for North Carolina TE Eric Ebron.

Ebron has a chance to go in the top ten, but Pompei thinks he could slip because "teams don't want to take a tight end that high." The earliest we could see Ebron coming off the board is at No. 9 overall to the Bills or No. 10 to the Lions. From there, Ebron could go at any time. The Jets, Dolphins, Cardinals, and Packers pick in order from 18-21. The Jets and Packers make plenty of sense for Ebron.

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Polian: Steelers should steer clear of Ebron

By Scott Brown

PITTSBURGH -- Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay will critique draft picks that are made in less than a week. The ESPN analysts took their own respective turns in the hot seat Thursday night on ESPN2.

The two engaged in a head-to-head, three-round mock draft in.gif with Kiper picking for teams with even-numbered draft picks and McShay picking for those with odd-numbered picks. Their selections were followed by analysis from former NFL general manager Bill Polian and former NFL director of pro personnel Louis Riddick.

And Polian didn't opt for subtlety after McShay picked North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron for the Steelers at No. 15 overall.

"He's a Pittsburgh Steeler and he doesn't block. That doesn't compute," Polian, a six-time NFL Executive of the Year, said of Ebron. "I don't think he's ready to play in the NFL right now. I think he's too immature. I don't think his feet are firmly planted on the ground. Yeah, he has ability but that only gets you so far."

Ebron may be one of the more polarizing players in the draft.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder is the best tight end in the draft and an undeniable talent. Ebron, who caught 62 passes for 973 yards in his final season at North Carolina, has the size and athleticism to create mismatches.

And he is part of the new wave of tight ends who have become such a commodity because of their ability to put stress on opposing defenses.

Ebron would give quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a tall target, and he would add a pass-catcher to a group that doesn't have a reliable one after veteran Heath Miller.

But as a blocker he can most diplomatically be described as a work in progress.

Or, as McShay said recently, “He’s a buffet blocker if you will. He kind of picks and chooses when he wants to get interested. But what he does well it’s just hard to find guys that can do it at the level that he does as far as stretching the field vertically and creating after the catch.”

Ebron may be too much of a gamble for the Steelers to pick at No. 15, especially since they have more pressing needs. McShay picked him for the Steelers with Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard off the board though with every other cornerback still available.

Riddick said he would have taken a cornerback for the Steelers, and he is especially high on Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller. Polian added of Ebron, "I would not risk this guy in a Pittsburgh offense that requires you to block."

As for the Steelers' other two picks, Kiper took LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry for them in the second round (No. 46 overall). McShay picked Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland for the Steelers in the third round (No. 97 overall).

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Rotoworld:

Draft Insider Tony Pauline reports teams are souring on North Carolina TE Eric Ebron due to his "high maintenance sort of personality."

Pauline specifically mentioned the Giants, one of the league's tight end-neediest teams, at No. 12 overall as a club backing off Ebron. "He's a me type of player and he always has been," Pauline continued. "He's a me type of person on the field and off the field. He's the kind of guy that was complaining when he didn't feel he was getting the ball enough. He's not well liked by all of his teammates." Tis the season to pick apart prospects any way possible, and Ebron appears to be that guy right now. He should still be an early-to-mid first-rounder.
Related: Giants

Draft Insider Tony Pauline reports the Ravens "covet" North Carolina TE Eric Ebron, and he's their "No. 1 target."

The Ravens hold the 17th overall pick in Thursday's first round. They already have Dennis Pitta locked into a long-term deal and Owen Daniels as their No. 2 tight end. But Daniels is only on a one-year pact, and new OC Gary Kubiak's offense keeps two tight ends heavily involved at all times. Pairing Ebron with Pitta would be a heckuva duo, though Ebron could go as high as No. 9 overall.
Related: Ravens
Edited by Faust

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Eric Ebron reportedly coveted by Baltimore Ravens

By Marc Sessler

Around the League Writer

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome cited inside linebacker as a primary need in Baltimore, but tapping the draft for help on defense might have to wait.

Draft Insider's Tony Pauline cited sources to report Monday that the Ravens have zeroed in on tight end Eric Ebron as their "number one target" in Round 1.

The athletic North Carolina target would make for a dangerous compliment to veteran Dennis Pitta, but Ebron is a solid bet to be long gone when Baltimore picks at No. 17.

The Buffalo Bills (at No. 9) and New York Giants (at No. 12) are logical landing spots for Ebron, and Pauline also named the Pittsburgh Steelers -- two spots ahead of the Ravens -- as a team with eyes for the prospect, whom NFL Films guru Greg Cosell cited as having "Vernon Davis-like qualities."

"You could argue that he brings more to the table as a complete receiver (than Davis)," Cosell said in March on the "Ross Tucker Football Podcast." "... I thought he was a top physical talent that at times makes you say, 'Wow,' and at other times leaves you wanting more."

The Ravens also have Owen Daniels on the roster, but he's on the wrong side of 30 and signed for just one season. Ebron would thrive in coordinator Gary Kubiak's passing scheme, but we'd be surprised if he's still there when Baltimore gets on the clock.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" breaks down draft news and rumors and plays the popular prediction game, "Go Get My Lunch!"

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Rotoworld:

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks predicts the Lions will either trade up for Sammy Watkins or select Eric Ebron at No. 10.

"Despite a glaring need at cornerback, the Lions will make a concerted effort to add a dynamic pass catcher to the lineup on draft day," Brooks wrote. "Watkins and Ebron are impact playmakers with the talent to exploit one-on-one coverages on the perimeter." Jim Caldwell and company aren't content with Golden Tate alone, and are looking to add another outside weapon. Caldwell has won before with Peyton Manning winging it all over the place, so he'll be comfortable allowing Matthew Stafford to do the same with what could be a scary receiving corps depending on what happens tomorrow night.
Source: NFL.com

Ebron would have very solid fantasy value in Detroit.

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Question:

I assume Ebron is rated by most as the best TE in this class. But does he have legit skills for the next level?

So what if he is the best in this class. What if it is a weak class? Is he really worth drafting in the 1st round in the NFL AND Fantasy drafts?

Are the odds greater that he will be a mediocre TE or a stud TE for years when all is said and done?

I guess I'm just not seeing why there is so much hype for him.

(Disclaimer - I don't think I've seen a single game of his)

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Question:

I assume Ebron is rated by most as the best TE in this class. But does he have legit skills for the next level?

So what if he is the best in this class. What if it is a weak class? Is he really worth drafting in the 1st round in the NFL AND Fantasy drafts?

Are the odds greater that he will be a mediocre TE or a stud TE for years when all is said and done?

I guess I'm just not seeing why there is so much hype for him.

(Disclaimer - I don't think I've seen a single game of his)

If I told you there was a 6-4, 250 lb. wide receiver in this draft who runs a 4.53 40 would you think there should be hype for him?

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So what if he is the best in this class. What if it is a weak class? Is he really worth drafting in the 1st round in the NFL AND Fantasy drafts?

Actually it's a pretty good TE class considering Amaro and ASJ could also easily be TE1s and you've got a wildcard in Lyerla who could be as good as any of them. Ebron doesn't jump out as a can't miss guy but he's not appreciably worse than Eifert/Ertz and a better prospect than Fleener/Allen/Rudolph/etc. I'd probably take Eifert over him all things equal, but if Ebron gets a good landing spot that can change. If he lands in a plus situation like Atlanta (not that it will happen) he could excel.

Ebron would have very solid fantasy value in Detroit.

This seems like Eifert part deux though. They just re-upped Pettigrew for 4 years. Not sure I don't prefer him being the only game in town for Buffalo and being the safety valve for a QB that needs one. Although will EJ even be the QB next year when it matters, who knows.

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Rotoworld:

TFY Draft Insider's Tony Pauline tweeted Thursday to "keep an eye on" the Steelers and North Carolina TE Eric Ebron.

Pauline isn't 100 percent accurate -- no one is when it comes to the unpredictable NFL draft -- but he's one of the top pre-draft information men out there. Ebron's draft sweet spot is likely 9-17, with Buffalo as his ceiling and Baltimore as his "floor." Pittsburgh selects at No. 15. The Steelers could become a two-tight end team if they added Ebron, with Heath Miller in the in-line role.
Related: Steelers

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Question:

I assume Ebron is rated by most as the best TE in this class. But does he have legit skills for the next level?

So what if he is the best in this class. What if it is a weak class? Is he really worth drafting in the 1st round in the NFL AND Fantasy drafts?

Are the odds greater that he will be a mediocre TE or a stud TE for years when all is said and done?

I guess I'm just not seeing why there is so much hype for him.

(Disclaimer - I don't think I've seen a single game of his)

If I told you there was a 6-4, 250 lb. wide receiver in this draft who runs a 4.53 40 would you think there should be hype for him?

I don't know.. can he block?

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Question:

I assume Ebron is rated by most as the best TE in this class. But does he have legit skills for the next level?

So what if he is the best in this class. What if it is a weak class? Is he really worth drafting in the 1st round in the NFL AND Fantasy drafts?

Are the odds greater that he will be a mediocre TE or a stud TE for years when all is said and done?

I guess I'm just not seeing why there is so much hype for him.

(Disclaimer - I don't think I've seen a single game of his)

If I told you there was a 6-4, 250 lb. wide receiver in this draft who runs a 4.53 40 would you think there should be hype for him?

I don't know.. can he block?

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Question:

I assume Ebron is rated by most as the best TE in this class. But does he have legit skills for the next level?

So what if he is the best in this class. What if it is a weak class? Is he really worth drafting in the 1st round in the NFL AND Fantasy drafts?

Are the odds greater that he will be a mediocre TE or a stud TE for years when all is said and done?

I guess I'm just not seeing why there is so much hype for him.

(Disclaimer - I don't think I've seen a single game of his)

If I told you there was a 6-4, 250 lb. wide receiver in this draft who runs a 4.53 40 would you think there should be hype for him?

I don't know.. can he block?

Can Jimmy Graham?

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Question:

I assume Ebron is rated by most as the best TE in this class. But does he have legit skills for the next level?

So what if he is the best in this class. What if it is a weak class? Is he really worth drafting in the 1st round in the NFL AND Fantasy drafts?

Are the odds greater that he will be a mediocre TE or a stud TE for years when all is said and done?

I guess I'm just not seeing why there is so much hype for him.

(Disclaimer - I don't think I've seen a single game of his)

If I told you there was a 6-4, 250 lb. wide receiver in this draft who runs a 4.53 40 would you think there should be hype for him?

I don't know.. can he block?

Can Jimmy Graham?

I think Ebron has Graham-likr potential. He's not a blocker, but he's a very good receiver. He's too fast for 99% of LBers and too big for 99% of Safeties. He has great body control and uses his body well. He wins jumpballs a LOT. He can fly up that seam route and destroy a defense. He's a huge red zone threat. His negatives are that he drops some passes and he is not really interested in blocking.

Out of the guys likely to be there when Buffalo drafts, Ebron is the guy I would most like them to end up with.

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Good or bad landing spot w/ lions?

Very good in my book.

Good for him. Not for the Lions. Dude drops more passes than Pettigrew which is almost impossible.

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Question:

I assume Ebron is rated by most as the best TE in this class. But does he have legit skills for the next level?

So what if he is the best in this class. What if it is a weak class? Is he really worth drafting in the 1st round in the NFL AND Fantasy drafts?

Are the odds greater that he will be a mediocre TE or a stud TE for years when all is said and done?

I guess I'm just not seeing why there is so much hype for him.

(Disclaimer - I don't think I've seen a single game of his)

If I told you there was a 6-4, 250 lb. wide receiver in this draft who runs a 4.53 40 would you think there should be hype for him?

I don't know.. can he block?

Can Jimmy Graham?

I think Ebron has Graham-likr potential. He's not a blocker, but he's a very good receiver. He's too fast for 99% of LBers and too big for 99% of Safeties. He has great body control and uses his body well. He wins jumpballs a LOT. He can fly up that seam route and destroy a defense. He's a huge red zone threat. His negatives are that he drops some passes and he is not really interested in blocking.

Out of the guys likely to be there when Buffalo drafts, Ebron is the guy I would most like them to end up with.

Ebron does not have Graham-like potential because he's not a Redzone monster. He will also compete with Megatron for targets. His fantasy upside is more like Kellen Winslow.

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Question:

I assume Ebron is rated by most as the best TE in this class. But does he have legit skills for the next level?

So what if he is the best in this class. What if it is a weak class? Is he really worth drafting in the 1st round in the NFL AND Fantasy drafts?

Are the odds greater that he will be a mediocre TE or a stud TE for years when all is said and done?

I guess I'm just not seeing why there is so much hype for him.

(Disclaimer - I don't think I've seen a single game of his)

If I told you there was a 6-4, 250 lb. wide receiver in this draft who runs a 4.53 40 would you think there should be hype for him?

I don't know.. can he block?

Can Jimmy Graham?

I think Ebron has Graham-likr potential. He's not a blocker, but he's a very good receiver. He's too fast for 99% of LBers and too big for 99% of Safeties. He has great body control and uses his body well. He wins jumpballs a LOT. He can fly up that seam route and destroy a defense. He's a huge red zone threat. His negatives are that he drops some passes and he is not really interested in blocking.

Out of the guys likely to be there when Buffalo drafts, Ebron is the guy I would most like them to end up with.

Ebron does not have Graham-like potential because he's not a Redzone monster. He will also compete with Megatron for targets. His fantasy upside is more like Kellen Winslow.

Lord no, Lombardi will be working Ebron early and often. Ebron will make CJ better.

Guess what DET has its No. 2 receiver.

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Rotoworld:

Lions selected North Carolina TE Eric Ebron with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Ebron (6-foot-4 3/8, 250) became a starter as a 19-year-old true sophomore for the Heels, going on to catch 112 career passes for 1,805 yards (16.1 YPR) and eight touchdowns. We'd prefer better red-zone production, but Ebron's upside is arguably on Vernon Davis' level with 33 1/4-inch arms, 4.6-flat jets and a 10-foot broad jump. Ebron projects as a seam-stretching, playmaking "move" tight end with future fantasy TE1 potential (though not in 2014). The Lions, who re-signed Brandon Pettigrew for four years and $16 million in March, are officially a two-TE team, and loading up on weapons for Matthew Stafford after getting caught short the past two seasons.

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Eric Ebron drafted 10th overall by Detroit Lions

By Kevin Patra

Around the League writer

The Detroit Lions continued "The Offseason of Matthew Stafford" by adding the draft's most dynamic tight end in Eric Ebron.

General manager Martin Mayhew clearly targeted offensive help, being rumored in talks to trade up for one of the top two wide receivers. Instead, they settled for the uber-athletic tight end who has been compared to Vernon Davis.

Ebron has great speed, quickness, leaping ability and is terrific making catches away from his body.

The downside in Ebron's game is that he isn't a very good or willing blocker -- which makes the addition interesting. With needs on defense, new coach Jim Caldwell has discussed how he wants to move toward a power-running attack.

Ebron will join red zone tight end target Joseph Fauria and newly re-signed former first-round pick Brandon Pettigrew.

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi likely will use Ebron as a move tight end, similar to Jimmy Graham in the New Orleans Saints' offense. He might spend more of his rookie season in a receiver role than in-line.

Ebron proposed to his long-time girlfriend Thursday before the draft. Now he will have to get to know his new quarterback well, as both will play a big role in how productive the Lions will be in 2014.

The "Around The League Podcast" is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.

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Rotoworld:

Lions OC Joe Lombardi plans to utilize No. 10 overall pick Eric Ebron in a Jimmy Graham-like role.

Lombardi is a former assistant on Sean Payton's staff with the Saints. "There are some things that we did with Jimmy in New Orleans that we will be able to do with Eric and maybe some things we can do with Eric that we didn’t do with Jimmy," Lombardi said. "They are both unique but (Ebron) is going to have a pretty big role in what we plan on doing." Brandon Pettigrew will be the Lions' in-line tight end. Ebron will be a rocked-up wideout in the "move" role.

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Lions GM: Eric Ebron can be a Jimmy Graham-like fit

By Dan Hanzus

Around the League Writer

The Detroit Lions were already a handful on offense before Thursday's opening round of the 2014 NFL Draft. With Eric Ebron now in the mix, the unit has the potential to be devastating.

That was the logic behind the team's decision to select the North Carolina tight end with the 10th-overall pick.

"He's a very special offensive weapon," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said, according to the Detroit News. "He fits us because he can do some of the things coach did with Jimmy Graham in New Orleans."

That "coach" is new Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, who coached Graham during his time with the Saints.

Ebron didn't hesitate to draw the connection when asked how he will be used in Detroit's offense.

"The same way Jimmy Graham was when (Lombardi) was coaching Jimmy Graham," he said.

Lombardi explained the differences between the players on Thursday night.

"(Ebron and Graham) are not exactly the same but they are both athletic guys," he said. "Jimmy's got more length and Eric maybe has more quickness. Some things we did with Jimmy in New Orleans, we will do with Eric and there may be some things we do with Eric that we didn't do with Jimmy."

There's fair criticism to be landed that Detroit should have focused on defense with its first pick on Thursday. But the organization clearly views Ebron as a future elite player at his position. That potential was too tempting to pass up.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" provides instant reaction to all the wild happenings in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

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I like the move, though I was surprised Detroit didn't go defensive in the first round. Lots of Lions fans upset at the move, probably because Millen burned the team a bunch.

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Good or bad landing spot w/ lions?

Very good - The Lions have CJ drawing triple coverage which means that he will see a TON of LB coverage. That's a tasty mismatch. The team is pass HEAVY. Look for another 5K out of Stafford.

Also good is that the Lions didn't address the secondary with that pick. Which means they are likely to leak like a sieve again when trying to stop other teams. That means more passing and more scoring to keep up. Pettigrew just became a blocker in this scheme. An expensive blocker...

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As a Viking fan Ebron in Detroit is a bit of a nighmare.

I think it makes sense as they were having Calvin go over the middle a bit too much I think. Now Ebron can fill that role more. Pettigrew will do what he does best and block.

It is going to be very difficult to defend and the NFC North is poorly equiped to deal with him and Calvin. So picking their poision I think Ebron will be single covered a lot.

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I think Ebron will help Calvin short and long term BIG TIME. Lions offense could be scary good this year. No excuses for Stafford if he can't produce big numbers.

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The scout quotes from Bob McGinn's article at the Sentinel-Journal:

ERIC EBRON, North Carolina (6-4½, 252, 4.58, 1) — Third-year junior often compared to the 49ers' Vernon Davis. "Vernon is more sudden and compact," said one scout. "Twitchy. Eric's fluid. Where Eric makes his mark is being deceptive, running in gears and transitioning well in and out of breaks. I think he has special hands. You see him making one-handed palm of the ball in traffic. He has a chance to be an exceptional player, especially the way the game's played now." Two-year starter with 112 catches for 1,805 yards (16.1) and eight TDs. "He's a top-10 talent," another scout said. "He's as talented a tight end as has come out in the last five years." Played most of his career flanked wide or in the slot. "He's not a great big bulky guy but he'll block," another scout said. "Watch him against (Jadeveon) Clowney. He didn't win but he wasn't afraid. He's (Rob) Gronkowski-like but he's a lot smoother." From Greensboro, N.C. "In this new-fangled tight end position he can stretch the field and be a matchup issue," a third scout said. "He's better than (Jermichael) Finley and (Tyler) Eifert." Wonderlic of 16.

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Todd McShay says Detroit Lions did well with Eric Ebron: 'I really like the pick, to be honest'

By Dave Birkett

Excerpt:

The Detroit Lions got him a new coach and offensive coordinator, spent big on a receiver in free agency and used their first draft pick on a tight end. Now it’s up to Matthew Stafford.

After working the bulk of the off-season to surround Stafford with everything that he needs to get the most out of his considerable talents, the Lions are counting on big things from their quarterback this fall.

ESPN analysticon1.png Todd McShay said in a teleconference today that he likes the Lions’ first-round pick of tight end Eric Ebron for just that reason.

“Matthew Stafford has got weapons now,” McShay said. “He’s got another guy that can stretch (the field), another guy that you got to worry about, and I really like the pick, to be honest.

“I thought they were going to be reaching at other positionsicon1.png at that point, especially cornerback. And I thought that taking one of the best two or three players on the board and making sure that your dominant unit, which is your offense, continues to be dominant (made sense). If you’re going to win this thing, the whole thing, you’ve got to put weapons around Stafford, and I think they did the right thing by taking Ebron there.”

The Lions have worked hard to surround Stafford with a multitude of weapons since they made him the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL draft.

They took tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the first round the same year, then traded up to take Jahvid Best late in the first round of the 2010 draft. A year later, they spent second-round picks on receiver Titus Young and running back Mikel Leshoure. And in 2012, they took left tackle Riley Reiff in the first round and receiver Ryan Boyles in the second.

Pettigrew and Reiff are the only remaining starters of that group, while Best and Young are out of football. Leshoure and Broyles are backups with uncertain futuresicon1.png.

Ebron, the draft’s consensus best tight end, will play a significant role this fall and should helpicon1.png diversify the passing game. Last year at North Carolina, he caught 62 passes for 973 yards and broke Vernon Davis’ ACC single-season record for most receiving yards by a tight end.

McShay said he likes the pick overall, but he warned that there are some negatives to Ebron’s game.

“You can expect that he’s not going to block,” McShay said. “He’ll be decent, at best, probably as a space blocker — you’re not going to use him endline, but that’s not why you drafted him. You drafted him to be a playmaker. I think what separated him from everyone in this draft class was the fact that he can provide vertical and after the catch. He’s a seam stretcher. He will drop a few too many passes, but he makes a lot of tough catches, too.”

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Ebron gives Lions many offensive options

By Michael Rothstein | ESPN.com

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- After the Detroit Lions hired Joe Lombardi earlier this season and the new offensive coordinator made it obvious he was going to pattern the team after what he learned in New Orleans, the thought of Jimmy Graham has been prevalent.

When the Lions spurned defense Thursday night to take tight end Eric Ebron in the first round of the NFL draft -- despite already having two capable tight ends on the roster, a fairly deep draft class at the position and major needs on defense -- it focused the team's dependence on the position even more.

Then Lombardi mentioned something more interesting. When asked about the role tight end Joseph Fauria could still provide, he said he could envision the Lions lining up three tight ends on the field at one time. In the past, that type of package typically has meant a jumbo-type set designed for short-yardage or goal-line offense.

Not now. Not in Detroit.

The Lions could use three tight ends all across the field. Between Lombardi's talk about the formation and the six tight ends currently on the roster, it's clear there will be more emphasis on the position overall.

"Listen, Joseph is still going to have a strong role in the red zone," Lombardi said. "There is nothing to say that we aren't going to have three tight ends on the field at some point."

In Lombardi's five years with New Orleans, where he was primarily the quarterbacks coach, the Saints played 141 snaps with three tight ends on the field at once, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They ran the ball 69 times out of that set and also completed 44 of 71 passes in those five seasons.

The team used it the most in 2013, for 49 snaps, scoring seven touchdowns when three tight ends were on the field. The Saints completed 16 of 32 passes with a three-tight-end look last season, good for 185 yards and four touchdowns. Interestingly, 100 of those yards were after the catch, likely signifying it wasn't only used in the red zone.

Ten of those 16 catches in the formation went to tight ends.

At the very least, drafting Ebron probably means the definitive end of the favored formation under then-offensive coordinator Scott Linehan last season, which was one running back, three wide receivers and Brandon Pettigrew somewhere on the field.

Now, it could be Calvin Johnson, Ebron, Pettigrew and Golden Tate lining up a bit of everywhere. So don't think Ebron will be primarily in the slot. At North Carolina last season, Ebron caught the majority of his passes lined up as a wide receiver.

"I never want to say primarily anything," Lombardi said. "He is going to line up all over the place and you are going to have to find him. That's kind of one of our goals in not wanting to be predictable for defenses.

"We don't want them to say, 'Calvin is always here, we know how to deal with it.' You just want to keep mixing it up so the defense can never really hone in on what your plan is."

Realistically, Detroit is not going to sit Ebron or Pettigrew very often -- not after drafting Ebron in the first round and guaranteeing Pettigrew $8 million of his new four-year deal. So the multiplicity of the Lions' offense in 2014 could give Detroit a crazy amount of options. It can use anything from two-back sets with Joique Bell and Reggie Bush, to three- and four-receiver sets, to sets with one, two or three tight ends at once.

This is probably why the Lions felt comfortable drafting offense so early at the expense of addressing the defense.

Detroit will likely cater its offensive plan to what Ebron can do once he arrives this week and starts working in rookie minicamp this weekend. Once the Lions see how well he runs, and how far away his blocking or in-line capabilities might be, then they can further assess his value.

If the team really does view him as what he was at North Carolina, which was a bulkier, taller wide receiver with a tight end designation, Detroit could place him anywhere on the field, much like they do with Johnson. It is also highly likely Ebron's role at the start of the season will be different from his role at the end.

He is still learning the position. He only really started playing football his junior year of high school, after he was offered a scholarship by North Carolina following a one-day camp he attended. So his room for growth is large, and as he improves, the opportunities for Detroit's offense are likely to multiply.

Don't expect Ebron to become Graham, though. He was adamant about that after he was drafted. While he might play a similar role in the Detroit offense as Graham does in New Orleans, it isn't fair to compare Ebron to Graham, a converted basketball player.

If you're looking for a clue of how he'll be utilized, and how the Lions might end up using their tight ends, New Orleans is a good place to start.

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Stafford has to start throwing to players not named Calvin Johnson though... As he doesn't care if Johnson is double covered, triple covered or whatever, he just throws the ball way too much to CJ.

Tie in the dump offs to the RBs... I'm not as high as most with Ebron landing in Det.

Not sure what proposing to someone the day of the NFL draft means either. I hadn't heard of a player doing that before. Most seem focused in on the NFL and their hopes for their prospective future that day. So I really can't put my finger on it, but it seems something like a mental intangible negative in my view. Or I'm so far removed from romance I'm officially an old geezer... lol

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Target data for the Lions over the last 3 seasons-

2013
Calvin 155 targets
Durham 85 targets
Burleson 55 targets
Ogletree 25 targets
Broyles 14 targets
Edwards 11 targets
Ross 10 targets
355 total WR targets
Pettigrew 63 targets
Fauria 30 targets
Scheffler 12 targets
Dickerson 5 targets
110 total TE targets
Bush 80 targets
Bell 68 targets
Riddick 8 targets
156 total RB targets
621 total targets
2012
Calvin 204 targets
Burleson 43 targets
Titus Young 56 targets
Broyles 32 targets
Durham 21 targets
Thomas 13 targets
Robiskie 6 targets
375 total WR targets
Pettigrew 102 targets
Scheffler 85 targets
Heller 23 targets
210 total TE targets
Best 69 targets
Leshoure 48 targets
Smith 16 targets
Others 9 targets
144 total RB targets
729 total targets
2011
Calvin 160 targets
Burleson 111 targets
Titus Young 86 targets
Davis/Stovall 9 targets
366 total WR targets
Pettigrew 125 targets
Scheffler 40 targets
Heller 12 targets
177 total TE targets
Best 40 targets
Morris 35 targets
Smith 29 targets
Others 12 targets
116 total RB targets
659 total targets
Over the past 3 season the Lions have averaged 670 targets.
365 WR targets
165 TE targets
139 RB targets
TE targets fell to 110 in 2013 after being 210 and 177 the previous 2 seasons.
What I think happened in part last season is that Detroit was starting rookies on their offensive line so Pettigrew was asked to stay in to block more. Also Pettigrew is not the best option as a receiver so having him block is a good thing anyways. The addition of Bell and Bush led to the highest targets to RB as part of that shift and also Scheffler not being healthy.
Meanwhile in NO the Saints have been disributing their targets like this-
2013
257 WR targets
181 TE targets
203 RB targets
2012
309 WR targets
153 TE targets
194 RB targets
2011
295 WR targets
163 TE targets
194 RB targets
So if you expect the RB targets for Bush/Bell to go up in the new offense that could be some reason to limit the TE target opportunity. However the WR targets have been lower than Detroits have so maybe there will be less targets to WR besides Calvin than before.
I can see Ebron dipping into both the TE and WR target pools and think he could get 100 targets as a rookie in this offense.
Graham had 44 targets as a rookie. He shared time with Shockey and Daniel Thomas that season. Then 148, 135 and 141 his next 3 seasons.
Edited by Biabreakable

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Stafford has to start throwing to players not named Calvin Johnson though... As he doesn't care if Johnson is double covered, triple covered or whatever, he just throws the ball way too much to CJ.

Tie in the dump offs to the RBs... I'm not as high as most with Ebron landing in Det.

Not sure what proposing to someone the day of the NFL draft means either. I hadn't heard of a player doing that before. Most seem focused in on the NFL and their hopes for their prospective future that day. So I really can't put my finger on it, but it seems something like a mental intangible negative in my view. Or I'm so far removed from romance I'm officially an old geezer... lol

So who else should stafford have been throwing to exactly?

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True, but is that the case or is it that Stafford just trusts CJ the most so forces the ball his way because of it? I am curious how Ebron will turn out there, but can not say I was happy with him being drafted by Detroit.

Nice numbers pull Biabreakable, as I could be having tunnel vision of '13 passing, as '12/'11 do show more TE distributions.

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I wouldnt say he's had trouble throwing to Pettigrew over the years. I think Detroit is about as good a landing spot as you could hope for.

Edit: Just noticed Biabreakable posted above the target #s.

Edited by Craig_MiamiFL

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True, but is that the case or is it that Stafford just trusts CJ the most so forces the ball his way because of it? I am curious how Ebron will turn out there, but can not say I was happy with him being drafted by Detroit.

Nice numbers pull Biabreakable, as I could be having tunnel vision of '13 passing, as '12/'11 do show more TE distributions.

If he catches the passes, Ebron will earn Stafford's trust.

eta - I hope he practices catching bullets from 7-9 yards out...

Edited by matuski

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So TE premium guys, FFPC and whoever else..............................how high you taking Ebron in the rookie drafts coming up?

At one point I thought pick 1 was possible, but I highly doubt he goes pick 1. MAYBE in one league somewhere. Watkins still #1.

After WAtkins though, right now he is my #2 guy.

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Ebrons woman must have that good, good... while Bortles clearly wins the Barbie award.

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