After being a top ten overall selection by the Detroit Lions in the NFL Draft, will this offensive giant finally emerge as a NFL superstar in 2017?
Early in the 2017 NFL Draft, three tight ends were selected in the first round of the league’s biggest offseason event in April.
Those names included Alabama’s O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, #19), Ole Miss’s Evan Engram (New York Giants, #23) and Miami’s David Njoku (Cleveland Browns, #29). So, to at least three NFL teams, the importance of the tight end position appears evident.
Despite having three tight ends selected in this year’s first round, the Detroit Lions made a much bolder commitment to the position back in 2014.
Passing on players like LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the Lions’ used the 10th overall selection in that year’s draft on North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron.
During his first two seasons in the NFL, Ebron struggled with both injury and inconsistency. Starting in just 15 of the 27 games he played in from 2014-2015, the young tight end recorded 72 total receptions for 785 yards and six touchdowns during that span.
But last year was a bit of a breakout season for the 24-year old tight end. Playing and starting in 13 games in 2016, Ebron recorded a career high 61 receptions for 711 yards and one score. He also had a rushing touchdown to boot. Ebron’s reception total put him in the top ten of NFL tight ends last year.
According to ESPN,com, Ebron’s drop rate went from 10.1% in 2015 to 5.8% despite being targeted much more. The former first round selection’s play is clearly on the rise. But is Ebron on the edge of becoming the budding superstar many thought he’d become coming out of North Carolina in 2014?
Apparently, the Lions believe so. Last month, the Detroit brass elected to pick up the talented tight end’s fifth-year option of his rookie deal. The move keeps Ebron in the Motor City through 2018.
"“You take a look at it and see production, those kinds of things,” Lions’ head coach Jim Caldwell told ESPN.com. “…Every single year when you look at [Ebron’s] output, he’s improved. He’s gotten better. If he improves at the same rate he’s improved the last two years, it’s going to be a pretty outstanding season for him.”"
So is 2017 finally the year tight end Eric Ebron emerges as a NFL superstar? Well, only time will tell. But it appears the Detroit Lions’ and their fans are betting on it.