During the 2014 offseason, most people thought the tight end position was already strong for the Detroit Lions given the team had discovered Joseph Fauria and re-signed Brandon Pettigrew to a major contract.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, the team drafted Eric Ebron in the first round. Due to his size, position and catching ability, Ebron naturally drew Jimmy Graham comparisons from fans and scouts alike.
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But, Ebron went ahead and took it upon himself to fan those flames further by comparing himself to Graham during the process. A disappointing rookie season with the Lions didn’t help to make him or anyone else look like a prophet.
Now, Ebron seems to realize the errors of his ways, and expressed that sentiment to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com.
"“I kind of overhyped the situation myself not knowing exactly what kind of situation I was going into or what team I was going to get drafted to. It is what it is. It happened. (My) rookie year is over and the only thing you can do is progress. It’s just all about progressing now.”“There’s a lot of things to get better at,” he said. “Now that you understand the game plan in the NFL, it’s all about improving on that. It’s all about getting faster and better and quicker and stronger and things like that to just come out and ultimately dominate and that’s what you want to do. So that’s what I’m preparing for.”"
Additionally Faruia, a third year tight end, is dealing with similar circumstances after injuries derailed most of his 2014 year. Now, it’s to the point that his uncle Christian Faruia recently told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press he simply hopes the team hasn’t lost any faith in him.
"“I hope they’re not getting frustrated with him, and I know they got a lot of tight ends over there and who knows if he’s even going to stay because they got so many tight ends,” Christian Fauria said. “But we’ll see. He’s committed and he’s not going to give up and he’s got a definite long-term future in this league, but you got to stay healthy, you got to stay humble and you got to stay hungry.”"
Both these players, and to a different extent Pettigrew himself, all need to have impressive bounce-back years in 2015. At this point, things likely couldn’t get any worse for either Ebron or Fauria barring injuries, so they need to come into the season hungry to work hard and prove their doubters wrong.
The tight end spot is somewhere the Lions could use a major uptick in production going forward to give their offense some much needed depth and potency, and the first step is the contributors taking it upon themselves to be disappointed by their own performances last season.
Hearing Ebron’s words early in the offseason is certainly encouraging. It’s clear he was humbled by the entire process of becoming a pro early on, and has taken his lumps. Fortunately, it seems to be the mark of a man who isn’t satisfied with merely cashing a check or letting things play out as they may.
Everyone was disappointed with Ebron and also frustrated that Fauria couldn’t stay on the field. Now, it’s up to both of these two to channel their own frustrations, work hard in the offseason and become major difference makers for the team this coming season.
Mindset could be the biggest factor helping or hindering that fact, making the early example and excitement that Ebron has set a critical one.