While there were more reports of rookie tight end Eric Ebron dropping passes throughout the second day of training camp it shouldn’t concern fans too much–yet. Drops were probably Ebron’s biggest flaw coming out of college and it looks like it may be a hard habit for him to break. His 11.43% drop rate would put him second highest in Pro Football Focus’ tight end rankings in 2013.
I would, however, caution about getting too wrapped up in the drops at this point though based on the amount of things he’s trying to process. It’s hard enough to come in as a rookie and make an instant impact in the NFL, but the tight end position, especially in Joe Lombardi’s offense, is challenging. Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell shed some light on this fact after Tuesday’s practice:
One thing I think people don’t quite understand about playing a tight end position, you can probably notice that he lines up in a number of different places. He lines up at a true tight end position, so he’s got to know all the blocking schemes, routes from there. He lines up at an auxiliary (position), what we can an F, so he’s got to know all the protections at that particular location as well as the routes. And then we also put him in the backfield, so this guy literally has to know the slot receiver, the regular tight end and also a position out of the backfield as if he’s a fullback.
Lining up all over the place is nothing new for Ebron. While at North Carolina only 21.7% of his targets came as an in-line tight end, while over 71% came while he was in the slot. He also had 6.5% of his total targets come as an outside receiver.
Ebron is expected to be a big part of the Lions offense this year and that includes moving all over the offensive formation. When asked earlier this offseason on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast how the Lions might use him Ebron replied, “50 percent in the slot, 40 percent with my hand in the ground, 10 percent in the backfield.” It’s unclear how accurate Ebron’s self-assessment is, but it’s definitely something worth monitoring throughout training camp and the preseason.