One pick that was mentioned in the pre-draft season but wasn’t looked on very favorably by some Lions fans was exactly what happened, which was drafting North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron.
Ebron is a big, fast, athletic playmaker who is a mismatch for defenses that is still obviously in the development stages, but has done enough to show scouts that he deserved to be the first tight end drafted in the top 10 since Vernon Davis.
The Lions have been searching for a way to take pressure off of Calvin Johnson, and this certainly helps that cause. Combined with the free agent signing of former Seahawks receiver Golden Tate, as well as the return to health of 2012 second round pick Ryan Broyles, the Lions’ passing attack got a lot more dangerous in 2014, and it won’t just be because of Calvin.
Ebron’s ability to stretch the field, make defenders miss, and create size problems for linebackers and safeties was an option the Lions simply couldn’t pass up on, even with more pressing needs.
Ebron moves around the field like a wide receiver, and the Lions have the ability to create formations for him to do so as a slot player or an in-line tight end. Brandon Pettigrew will still be the team’s primary blocking tight end, but Ebron is a guy that defenses are going to have to really key in on because of his rare athletic ability and the fact that he’s going to be moving all over the place.
The Lions have a very intriguing lineup right now with Calvin Johnson, Tate, Ebron, Pettigrew, and Reggie Bush at the skill spots in a given set. They could run a 2TE set, they could split Ebron into the slot, they could move Tate to the slot and put Ebron on the outside, or they could even use Ebron out of the backfield.
He gives this offense so much versatility, and I love what they now have the capability of doing. As Ebron puts it to the Detroit Free Press, the options are endless.
“The options are — it’s insane,” Ebron said. “The things that we’re going to do, the things that he has in store for me, other draftees and the guys that’s already there, we should take it to a whole new level, we hope.”
Ebron also talked about opening things up for Calvin Johnson, who faces an unlimited number of double teams per game. Teams key in on him, and he is still somehow able to produce games with over 200 yards receiving.
It’s what the great ones do.
But by adding Ebron to the fold, the Lions have effectively taken away some team’s biggest advantage against the Lions in simply doubling Calvin and leaving other guys in one-on-one situations. Ebron is too athletic, too big, and too good a receiver to leave one on one, especially with slower linebacker or smaller safety/nickel defensive back.
This is an exciting selection for the Lions, one that should pay immediate dividends.