Let the tight end talk begin in the Motor City as the Detroit Lions have two players going opposite directions at the position.
The Detroit Lions suffered their second defeat of the young season Sunday, this time at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. Despite another valiant fourth quarter effort by this resilient Lions’ team, there simply wasn’t enough time to crawl all the way back from a 17-point deficit in the final frame. Detroit ultimately succumbed to the play clock, conceding the three-point loss, 27-24.
But the game did reveal two things. The Lions have a tight end that is unreliable and will likely never reach his potential. And that Detroit has a tight end that is emerging and will likely exceed expectations.
Once again, we stand in line to ride the rollercoaster of Eric Ebron‘s career in Detroit. Is it unfair that the former first round selection, 10th overall, is judged differently than other tight ends due to his draft status? Absolutely. In fact, I could make an argument that we all have unrealistic expectations of Ebron considering six Pro Bowlers were selected in the seven picks right after him in the 2014 draft.
But Ebron’s performance on Sunday, where he caught just one of his four targets and dropped a game-changing touchdown reception early, only solidifies the fact the Lions’ whiffed hard when they drafted the North Carolina Tar Heel three years ago. And the fact they picked up his fifth-year option in the offseason, at the tune of roughly $8.25 million, is mind-boggling.
It is true that Ebron’s production has increased every season he’s been a professional. But that
only highlights how long the Lions have waited for the 24-year old to earn his top ten selection. And after yet another poor performance on Sunday, it simply appears Ebron will never be anything but below average with far too infrequent glimpses of potential.
Luckily, Ebron’s potential replacement was revealed in the Lions’ recent loss. Tight end Darren Fells and quarterback Matthew Stafford connected twice for touchdowns in the fourth quarter against the Panthers, edging the team ever so close to another comeback win.
Fells, who played the past three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, came to Detroit as a free agent this offseason. He was acquired primarily as a blocking tight end, having only notched 40 career receptions. But at 6-foot-7, 270 pounds, Fells is an obvious red zone target. And on Sunday, he proved he has the hands to be a reliable pass catcher. Something Ebron has not been as of late.
Although I’m not sure how much trade value Eric Ebron has right now, if the Detroit Lions decide to move on from one of their biggest draft busts in recent memory, they have a player in Darren Fells who seems more than capable of filling his shoes.